Veterans are met with many challenges as they transition to civilian life after service. While transition stress, culture shock, and more are common among veterans, one of the most prevalent challenges that veterans face is trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The effects of trauma on daily life are profound, and many veterans may turn to the use of drugs or alcohol to numb the emotional effects of these challenges despite the personal cost to their health. However, trauma among veterans does not always have to lead to addiction. Hawaii Island Recovery can empower veterans to take a proactive stance in addressing the effects of trauma in civilian life without the use of addictive substances. 

How Common Is Trauma Among Veterans?

Trauma among veterans is incredibly common following service, with PTSD being both common and devastating for many. Many factors are involved in the development of PTSD, with the wars served, multiple deployments, and personal experiences in the line of duty all affecting veterans in unique ways. However, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), about 29% of veterans who have seen an active warzone have reported symptoms of PTSD. 

Yet, PTSD from navigating the life-threatening situations of an active warzone is only one form of trauma that military personnel may face. Others may experience their personal traumatic experiences, from survivor’s guilt to on-base military sexual trauma (MST) or a compromised sense of self or identity, particularly among women or LGBTQ+ veterans. These forms of trauma can be difficult to accurately quantify. Rather, understanding the varied forms of trauma can express how ubiquitous different forms of trauma among veterans can be.

The traumas of an active warzone, or the emotional challenges following these life-changing events such as survivor’s guilt, flashbacks, and more are all exceptionally difficult to cope with, and many veterans may continue to feel their effects even after being discharged from service. Finding a way to address these feelings is paramount. While it is common to use drugs or alcohol to address these feelings, it is possible to cope with these challenges in healthier ways with the right support from veteran peers and the professionals at Hawaii Island Recovery. 

Living Paul's Journey: Veterans, Trauma, Substance Abuse, and the Need for Healing
Living Paul’s Journey: Veterans, Trauma, Substance Abuse, and the Need for Healing

The challenges that Paul faced throughout his life are profound but are also shared among many veterans from any branch of the armed forces. For more information on how we can help you take the first step into effective substance abuse treatment in Hawaii, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.

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Why the Use of Addictive Substances in Common

Each person will experience and cope with trauma in their own way. However, the influences that veterans experience in the line of duty can profoundly affect how they process these intense challenges. 

For many veterans, the notion of expressing vulnerability can be incredibly difficult or stigmatized due to pervasive military cultures eschewing expressions of perceived weakness. This means that many who experience trauma may not feel as if they are “allowed” to ask for help or indicate a need while in the line of duty. For many, this continues into civilian life and affects other areas of daily life. Veterans who may otherwise be ready and willing to reach out for help regarding their traumatic experiences may also not have developed the vocabulary or skills to communicate these needs due to it being denied or stigmatized for so long, furthering these challenges. 

As a result, it is common for many veterans to seek out a solution that will not necessarily “solve” trauma but simply placate the symptoms of PTSD for a minute; a brief bit of respite for their minds. The use of drugs or alcohol can purport to be this solution, forcing the mind to numb itself to intense feelings, memories, and more. Alcohol use as a coping strategy can be further informed by an intense on-base drinking culture that may utilize addictive substances for this reason, or even expect it. This approach to self-medicating these challenges with addictive substances can develop into addiction that profoundly affects civilian life. 

Embracing Trauma-Informed Care for Effective Treatment
Embracing Trauma-Informed Care For Effective Treatment

Trauma-informed care can be necessary for veterans not only overcoming their past experiences in military service but also looking to challenge the continued effects of mental health disorders and addiction in civilian life. To learn more about our rehab in Hawaii and how we can help you through trauma-informed care and veteran programs, call to speak to us at (866) 390-5070.

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Taking Control of Trauma Recovery

The use of addictive substances and the development of substance use disorder (SUD) are common effects of trauma among veterans. However, veterans who have experienced trauma are not necessarily resigned to also facing addiction, and it is possible to address trauma without the use of drugs or alcohol. For many veterans, expecting the use of drugs or alcohol to be a part of coping with trauma and loss can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hawaii Island Recovery seeks to break these expectations, with identifying the signs of trauma being the first step. 

Some possible signs of trauma and PTSD among veterans include:

  • Pervasive feelings of anxiety or impending danger
  • Unrealistic perceptions of danger
  • Self-isolation
  • Irritability, anger, and mood swings
  • Self-destructive or reckless behaviors
  • Difficulty trusting others or feeling emotionally distant
  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty sleeping

Finding a community of veteran peers who have navigated their traumas can be the beginning of challenging trauma among veterans and the feelings of isolation that come with it without the use of drugs or alcohol. Likewise, talking with peers and professionals can help veterans recognize the signs of trauma in daily life before feeling compelled to self-medicate their effects. Taking a proactive stance and addressing trauma at one of our treatment centers in Hawaii, especially immediately while transitioning from active duty to civilian life, can prevent the development of addiction and other unhealthy coping mechanisms for a truly fulfilling civilian life. 

Trauma among veterans is exceptionally common. However, it is always possible to take control of how you address and cope with trauma, and Hawaii Island Recovery is available to explore how you can overcome the effects of trauma and PTSD without the use of drugs or alcohol. Our dedicated treatment centers in Hawaii are curated with sobriety and healing in mind, with dedicated veteran programs available to help you explore how you can overcome the effects of trauma in daily life. Surrounding yourself with trauma-informed professionals and veteran peers can help you take the first step toward a sober life and a healthy approach to daily civilian life. For more information on how we can help you, call (866) 390-5070.