Members of the armed forces face a combination of emotional stress, physical injury, and unique traumas in the line of duty, and veterans can carry these experiences into civilian life. As a result, the use of addictive substances like drugs or alcohol can be a common and dangerous coping mechanism. However, despite their service, veterans still face many barriers in their pursuit of the necessary centers for alcohol and drug treatment to address these traumas and addictions. 

Overcoming the financial barriers to recovery — as well as any personal obstacles that may be in place — is essential for creating a healthy approach to civilian life. Utilizing all resources available can empower veterans to navigate these barriers and pursue a healthy, sober future. 

The Cost of Addiction

Addiction is a devastating disease, and while an individual may face hurdles and challenges in their journey through recovery, lack of action can be even more destructive. From financial concerns to stigmas surrounding words like addiction, it can be challenging to take this first step toward recovery. 

However, the cost of allowing addiction to continue affecting an individual is high, with continued damage to the body and brain, impacting relationships and even affecting employment and workplace performance. For veterans, addiction can be exceptionally prevalent, with about one in 15 veterans struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) in 2013. 

Overcoming the costs and barriers to recovery is essential to a veteran’s physical and mental health. Between attempts to self-medicate traumatic experiences, injuries incurred while on tour, prescriptions to cope with chronic pain, and navigating the stresses of transitioning to civilian life, the use of drugs and alcohol is common among military personnel. This makes balancing the cost of addiction recovery among veterans a crucial part of civilian life. 

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The Financial Barriers to Recovery

Finances should never be the reason to avoid pursuing a sober life. Locating financial resources for veterans to challenge trauma, substance abuse, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is critical for balancing the cost of recovery among veterans. 

While some may find that professional recovery programs are expensive or are concerned about how recovery may impact their employment, resources are available to help veterans balance these costs, providing financial support and employment protection. 

Operation Family Fund

Operation Family Fund is a nonprofit organization for veterans of Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom to help cover the short or long-term costs of injuries from these deployments. The financial assistance can help cover these medical expenses, including the recovery programs necessary to heal from addiction and trauma from deployment.

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) also provides financial assistance to military families to cover basic living expenses, which frees up financial burdens for other personal needs. Coupled with insurance and additional benefits, challenging substance abuse, addiction, and trauma among veterans is always possible. Contacting a local VA branch can direct an individual to appropriate resources to make recovery possible. 

Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employment status while seeking recovery for medical reasons. Contacting the human resources department at work can provide the proper paperwork to protect one’s job while pursuing sobriety. 

Navigating the Personal Cost of Recovery

Many veterans also fear their social status might be compromised if they reach out for help. This fear is rooted in the misbelief that seeking help is a sign of weakness that stands in contrast to their veteran persona. Some may feel shame if they admit they need help with mental health or substance abuse, while others may lack faith in the recovery process or their own ability to change. 

However, these personal costs are largely based on a fallacy, and pursuing recovery and sobriety as a veteran is a noble effort. Not all recovery journeys are the same, and finding dedicated, trauma-informed programs and veteran-specific recovery communities is essential for an effective recovery. 

While it can be difficult to communicate or address personal needs and goals in recovery surrounded by people who have not lived through the same challenges of veteran life themselves, engaging in a dedicated veteran program can deconstruct these barriers while connecting an individual with peers and professionals to facilitate the most appropriate, effective healing.

Addiction has many personal costs, from affecting relationships to employment and personal goals. While the personal costs of recovery, such as perceived social status, can be difficult to navigate, recovery is a personal investment in a healthy future. 

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Addiction Recovery for Veterans as an Investment

While one may feel that there are intense financial, personal, or social costs to pursuing recovery, these recovery programs are investments in an individual’s health and happiness. Feelings of shame or guilt surrounding recovery will pass in time, and the personal and financial cost of inaction can be much greater. 

From losing employment opportunities as a result of drugs or alcohol to continued feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, and more that impact an individual through addiction or trauma, recovery is a necessary part of a healthy future. Utilizing veteran-focused financial resources and working alongside family and peers to deconstruct the stigmas of addiction can pave the way to a healthy, sober future in civilian life.

While the cost of recovery can seem steep, the cost of inaction can be much greater. We at Hawaii Island Recovery are prepared to help you take the next step in your journey toward a healthy, sober life. We understand the barriers that many veterans face on their journey. Our rehab in Hawaii is committed to helping you in any way we can, from guiding you through financial programs to continuing to act as a resource for your continued journey. From detox to residential and outpatient care, we want to guide you to your sober transformation, building new experiences, skills, social groups, and perspectives while facilitating your spiritual growth and challenging the effects of addiction and trauma on your life. For more information on how we can personalize a program that is right for you, call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5040.