Veterans And Substance Abuse

Veterans And Substance Abuse

We welcome them home. We cry. We laugh. But underneath the surface, do we truly understand the struggle the U.S. veteran experiences? Our U.S. military veterans are extraordinary individuals who have faced extreme emotional and mental challenges from what they’ve seen, heard, and felt, during their time in the United States Armed Forces.

Many Experience Trauma

After deployment, these individuals often face traumatic experiences which creates an aftermath of devastating effects. If not properly cared for, these may lead to many other concerns such as homelessness, mental health problems, suicide, alcoholism, and drug abuse. Fighting for our country, these men and women have braved numerous obstacles, only to come back to a world that may seem foreign to them. Feeling out of touch with their former way of life and loved ones, it might be difficult for them to grasp what they went through.

With trauma buried deep inside, these individuals often times don’t know how to cope or recover from the difficult sights they witnessed during their time in the service. With posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental issues, and physical strain, many veterans fight this inner battle on a daily basis. Some, unfortunately, don’t seek or receive the proper care they so desperately need. The need to be able to survive their daily lives starts to snowball, and without the proper treatment a veteran might reach out for any means of escape from the mental, emotional, and physical pain that plagues their daily lives. Too often this desire to self-medicate leads them to drugs or alcohol, a long and dangerous path.

Homelessness In Our Veterans

The unfortunate truth is that a large amount of our veterans become homeless. With military conflicts on the rise, there is also a high possibility that the number will continue to increase. One of the difficulties a homeless veteran encounters is substance abuse. Around 70% of homeless veterans suffer from a substance abuse problem. A common primary substance which is abused among these veterans is alcohol (65.4 %), followed up by heroin (10.7%), and cocaine (6.2 %).

Veterans And Substance Abuse Homeless Veterans

Mental Health Issues Lead To More Concerns

Mental health issues are a rising concern amongst these brave individuals. Another study showed that 20% of active duty and 42% of reserve soldiers were in need of mental health treatment. Frequent use of drugs or alcohol were often associated with mental health problems.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse cites that one in four veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan were reported to have symptoms of mental or cognitive problems, while one in six exhibited signs of PTSD. Substance abuse and dependance go hand-in-hand with these mental disorders, as well as trauma to the brain, sleep problems, and exhibiting violent behavior in relationships.

Veterans And Substance Abuse Mental Health

Younger veterans are a much greater risk to have substance abuse issues or mental health problems. NIDA further elaborates, stating that of those veterans aged 18-25, a quarter qualified as having a past-year substance use disorder. To further put this in perspective, they noted that this is double the prevalence of those aged 26-54, and five times that of veterans who are 55 and beyond.

Suicide And Substance Abuse

In January 2014, the Veterans Health Administration reported that the suicide rates between male and female veterans and military service members outweighed the overall rate of the general population. With 20% of all national suicides, a startling 22 veterans are committing suicide every day.

There are often underlying mental or substance use disorders affecting these individuals. Research presented by the U.S. National Library of Medicine supports this, noting that within the study’s veteran cohort, “There was a high prevalence of diagnosed alcohol disorder or abuse (31.8%), drug dependence or abuse (21.8%), psychoses (21.2%), depression (18.5%)….” Certain findings suggest that 45 percent of nonfatal suicide attempts of suicide involved mental health issues mixed with substance abuse. Other reports cite that three out of the five veterans who committed suicide had been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

The Alcohol Problem

A group of army soldiers went through a screening process 3 to 4 months after returning from their deployment to Iraq. The screening showed that 27% were abusing alcohol and were at a greater risk of many other dangerous behaviors, including drinking and driving, and using illicit drugs. Even after soldiers have been reported for alcohol issues, there are few who are referred to alcohol treatment programs. The increasing need for improvement with screenings and access to care for alcohol-related problems, among veterans, is highly needed for those coming back from combat deployments.

Veterans And Substance Abuse Alcohol Abuse

Prescription Drug Abuse

Individuals who have been deployed several times, exposing them to multiple combat situations, and other related injuries are a higher risk of developing substance abuse issues. The risk of heavy drinking, binge drinking, smoking, or a relapse to smoking are prominent in these veterans. However, perhaps the greatest concern is prescription drug abuse. Veterans, like civilians, are at risk for addiction to opioid pain medicines that were prescribed due to combat-related injuries.

A special report for the United States Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs notes that in comparison to the 30% of the general population that suffer from chronic pain, 60% of veterans from deployments in the Middle East, and 50% of older veterans struggle with this condition.

Veterans And Substance Abuse Prescription Drug Abuse

This is not without repercussions. Due to the prevalence of chronic pain within the veteran population, prescriptions for opioid painkillers are increasingly more common. According to study findings published by the U.S. National of Library Medicine, in comparison to the general population, Veterans Health Administration patients encountered roughly double the number of accidental poisonings, most notably with cocaine and opioid medications.

Frontline news reports that in five years, from 2010 to 2015, opioid-use disorders have skyrocketed 55% within the veteran population. They continue to say that 13% of those veterans that receive opioid medications experience these disorders.

How Can We help?

Understanding the health and mental needs of a veteran is gravely important to the friends, family, and community of these individuals. Becoming aware, having compassion, and reaching out for proper help for your loved ones is key to bringing healing to those who are suffering from these illnesses.

Contact us if you or a loved are considering treatment.If you or a loved one has experienced traumatic experiences or substance use disorders, reach out today. Proper and compassionate care is highly needed to help you overcome these struggles. Let us be the helping hand you need to overcome these obstacles. Contact us today.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — The TEDS Report: Twenty-one Percent of Veterans in Substance Abuse Treatment Were Homeless
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — The CBHSQ Report: Veterans’ Primary Substance of Abuse is Alcohol in Treatment Admissions
National Institute on Drug Abuse — Drug Facts–Substance Abuse in the Military
U.S. National Library of Medicine — Suicide among War Veterans

National Suicide Prevention Week

National Suicide Prevention Week

Within the United States, suicide takes the lives of countless Americans every year. According to the CDC, this is rising, from 1999 to 2014, the age-adjusted suicide rate rose 24%, this increase occurred in both males and females, with suicide ranking as the tenth cause of death in 2014, totaling 42,773 deaths within that year.

National Suicide Prevention Week Deaths

Typically, suicide was highest in young people and those over 65, however, the CDC’s report also noted that it is increasing in middle aged individuals. In order to combat this devastation across all age groups, a growing awareness and outreach is occurring, culminating in National Suicide Prevention Week.

What Is National Suicide Prevention Week?

National Suicide Prevention Week AASEach year, professionals, communities, individuals, survivors, and families—both of survivors and those who have lost their life to suicide—band together to promote education and awareness, with a mission of increasing suicide prevention. This campaign, as sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), works towards unifying health providers and the general public in an ongoing commitment towards prevention paired with an increased understanding of the warning signs of suicide.

Chances are, that you have either knowingly, or unknowingly encountered a person that has at some point contemplated or even attempted suicide. This prevention week seeks to alleviate the stigma and misconceptions that surround suicide in order to provide both those that need help with better access and support, and those that surround them with greater skills and recognition in recognizing and handling this dire situation.

National Suicide Prevention Week IASPCentered within this is an international declaration of solidarity and commitment—every year on September 10th, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and their co-sponsor, the World Health Organization, holds the World Suicide Prevention Day.

How Can You Integrate This Into Your Life Or Community?

This is not simply something that you read about, it is something that was created to be proactive, dynamic, and adaptable to the demands and lives of communities and individuals that want to support and engage each other in suicide prevention and education.

To do this, numerous tools have been created, including a graphic that can be posted on social networking sites to show your unity and support, an information and media kit, that will help you to create and publish offerings within your community, various hashtags to promote and connect people, and fundraising and event ideas.

Certain groups are already poised to be in a position to host these events, due to their already established modes of outreach and their larger access to the community, as suggested by the AAS, these include, schools, hospitals, private treatment facilities, community mental health centers, and churches.

Some communities hold candlelight vigils to encourage awareness and honor those that have taken their lives; others may hold fundraisers such as walk-a-thons and relays, craft bazaars, bake sales, or car washes, to raise additional funds to support further programs and incentives; and some events may provide a forum for survivors, their families, experts within the field, and others to share stories, words of encouragement, and tools and resources that can further connect people in this important mission.

National Suicide Prevention Week Fundraiser

These outreach events are foundational for fostering momentum towards a greater consciousness of the risks, impact and prevention of suicide. Additionally, these gatherings allow people to share their unique narrative—including both struggles and triumphs—as a means to instill hope, perseverance, accountability, communication, and resources towards the common goal of reducing the number of lives that this travesty takes from our nation each year.

Sometimes just affirming your commitment to the cause can help to provide a venue for a conversation on the subject, an exchange that may even save a life. As a means to do this and support awareness, a variety of items are available for individuals and groups to use, these include ribbon pins, wristbands, printed materials, and webinars.

Substance Abuse And The Role It Has In Suicide

The causes of suicide may vary significantly from person to person, but according to a paper published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “A growing body of studies has demonstrated that alcohol and drug abuse are second only to depression and other mood disorders as the most frequent risk factors for suicide.” Why is this?

First, individuals may commonly use drugs and/or alcohol as a dangerous and futile way of coping with underlying mental health disorders. As these co-occurring conditions go unchecked, and as each exacerbate the other, a person can fall farther into the dark spiral that these disorders may create.

National Suicide Prevention Week LifelineSecondly, drug and alcohol use and addiction may in some cases cause depression, or other mental health disorders that may lead a person towards these dangerous thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Not only this, but while a person is under the influence of these substances, the substance itself may imbalance them in a manner that fosters these suicidal thoughts. It is theorized that this paired with decreased inhibitions, reasoning, and impaired judgement may spurn a person towards this devastating decision.

A growing body of evidence suggests that alcohol and drug abuse increases a person’s risk of suicide. SAMHSA quantifies this risk, citing that “In 2008, alcohol was a factor in approximately one-third of suicides reported in 16 states…in 2011, there was a 51% increase in drug-related suicide attempt visits to hospital emergency departments among people aged 12 and older.”

Treating substance abuse and addiction is a powerful took in preventing suicide, to the extent that the Whitehouse has issued the following statement within a publication on substance abuse and suicide prevention: “When we prevent or successfully treat substance abuse, we prevent suicides.”

Today, a wide-variety of rehabilitation programs exist that can help a person to combat these co-occurring conditions, so that they might regain mental and physical health, while learning to embrace their life again.

Don’t Be Silent, Raise Your Voice To Find Help, Health, And Wellness Today

If you have a loved one that is struggling, or if you’re feeling overwhelmed and you’re beginning to have dark thoughts that lead you towards notions of suicide, please seek help immediately.

If you need this help, or if you’re wanting to learn more about suicide, so that you can help to foster prevention, please inquire with our experts. Not only do Contact us if you or a loved are considering treatment.we understand the risks and warning signs of suicide, but we understand the vast impact that substance abuse and addiction can have. Don’t lose hope, our staff is compassionate and can help you towards regaining the desire to live, while helping to improve your chances of achieving wellness and sobriety. Contact us today at

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999–2014
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — National Vital Statistics Report
American Association of Suicidology — National Suicide Prevention Week – September 5 – 11, 2016
American Association of Suicidology — National Suicide Prevention Week Information & Media Kit
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Suicide Prevention

Cocaine And Amphetamines Increase Suicide Risk For Drug Users

Cocaine and Amphetamines Increases Suicide Risk for Drug Users-

The Stark Reality Of Suicide Risk

Most understand the reality that drugs can alter human behavior. However, what happens when drugs have such serious effects that a person becomes depressed or suicidal? If someone uses cocaine or amphetamines, his or her risk for suicidal thoughts increases dramatically. In fact, it has been noted that cocaine and other stimulants are believed to have been active in the systems of up to 22% of suicide victims. Obviously suicidal thoughts or behavior are a serious concern for the drug user or any persons who care about someone struggling with addiction.

Drug History: How Cocaine And Amphetamines Came About

When inquiring about these harmful drugs, one may first consider the origins of amphetamines and cocaine. Coca leaves were chewed and used as a natural stimulant by ancient Inca and Andes populations, but was first introduced to the Western world in 1532. In the late 19th century, a scientist learned how to extract a substance from the coca leaves, producing the drug known as cocaine. Originally popularized for medicinal use, its highly addictive properties were not fully considered. Health risks related to doing cocaine was first recognized in 1905, but the drug still remained in use, even increasing in popularity in the 1970s. In the 21st century it is the second most trafficked illegal drug worldwide.

The history of amphetamines varies greatly from cocaine. Amphetamine is a compound that was first synthesized by a scientist in 1887. Made from a combination of compounds (including ephedrine), then added to the Ma-Huange plant of China, amphetamine is not of natural origin. Amphetamine pills were in widespread use by the 1960s for recreational purposes, and for medical treatments to assist in increasing attentiveness or opening bronchial airways. Since 1965 amphetamines were classified as a prescription-only medication and categorized alongside other drugs with the high potential for addiction, such as opiates. Amphetamine is now most widely used on a legal basis to treat Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD or ADHD).

The Highs And Lows Of Stimulants

Now that we have covered a brief history of cocaine and amphetamines, let’s uncover how the human body is affected by the drugs. Amphetamines and cocaine are both stimulants that spark the central nervous system and could cause responses that make a person feel the following:

  • A sense of euphoria
  • Increased arousal
  • Speed up behavior
  • Induce a rush or “flash”
  • Mood swings upon withdrawal
  • Frustration and unpredictable emotions
  • Depression

A person feels these spikes in mood and emotion because cocaine and amphetamines each produce a reward by causing the brain to trigger a release of the hormones dopamine and oxytocin. However, this response is unnatural and attributes to less than favorable challenges faced by the person involved in drug use: a rollercoaster of mental and emotional shifts.

The Negative Aftermath

Although feelings of extreme happiness may initially seem appealing to a person taking or using a stimulant such as cocaine or an amphetamine, the long-lasting negative consequences of doing the drugs surely eclipse any temporary thrill. Once the effects of a stimulant such as cocaine or amphetamines wear off, a person experiences a drastic crash. In other words, the extreme emotional and mental high caused by the stimulants quickly spirals into a shocking low.

One can imagine that the potential for addiction that pairs with these type of drugs is dramatic. The use of stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamines may have began as something deemed as useful or enjoyable, but a person must continue to take the drugs in order to maintain the euphoric mental state. Without it, a person could become angry, irritable, and/or severely depressed.

Patients trapped in the snare of stimulant dependence often have developed and are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. A drug that once inspired “good” feelings could eventually cause negative behavior or thoughts. A person struggling with addiction might feel out of control, lost, or a sense of hopelessness.

Contact Today

A person reading this may be simply doing research for a friend who is experiencing hardship with addiction, depression, or suicidal thoughts. You may even be reading this and struggling with suicidal thoughts due to the use of a stimulant. No matter the situation, please do not waste any time wondering whether or not you should reach out for help. Research is only the first step of the recovery process. Call 1-833-473-4227  or contact us today to move in the direction of freedom for you or a person you care about.

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