The families of military personnel face many of their own challenges, especially while loved ones are deployed on tour and absent for prolonged periods of time. Not only do these stresses and sacrifices take their emotional toll, but they can also lead to the development of unhealthy coping strategies. Unfortunately, addiction is common among military families at home. Identifying and overcoming the use of addictive substances is necessary to create a healthy home atmosphere. Doing so can help create a healthy, sustainable home environment for when a loved one returns from active duty as well as establish wellness for family members at home.
The Stresses of Veteran Families at Home
Military personnel must overcome traumas and obstacles regularly, and it is common for many to focus on these brave sacrifices. However, military life is an entirely familial affair. The spouses and families of military personnel are tasked with overcoming many of their own unique stresses, each of which can inform the use of drugs or alcohol.
Both spouses and children of military personnel are profoundly affected by having even one family member on active duty. Spouses may be left with the challenges of raising a child on their own, without another parental figure present to ease these stresses. Being the only parent physically present for prolonged periods of time is exhausting. Meanwhile, many military families will have to develop strategies to address the situation.
Others may have their own daily schedules compromised due to tending to household responsibilities, from cleaning and tending to other daily responsibilities to paying and organizing expenses and balancing budgets. Combined, it can be incredibly difficult for families of military personnel to find time to relax, engage in self-care, or even pursue personal interests. Many members of military families, especially spouses, may have also made their own sacrifices for the sake of the family, such as their own careers or education, to provide this support at home.
Families of those on deployment are tasked with coping with these stresses while constantly concerned about the well-being of a loved one on active duty. The use of drugs or alcohol to process or placate these stresses is common at home. However, this can quickly develop into an addiction. Navigating addiction while a loved one is deployed is difficult, and professional treatment may be necessary to address these unique stresses and create a healthier life.
Overcoming Addiction at Home
Families of military personnel must overcome both the stresses that inform their use of addictive substances as well as the use of the substance itself. This is never easy. Likewise, professional treatment is often necessary to truly process the pervasive feelings of anxiety, depression, trauma, doubt, and more that are all commonplace among military families. Finding the right strategies to identify and overcome addiction and its effects is crucial. It requires each individual to endure a personal journey toward wellness.
It can be difficult for military families to connect with others about these challenges if they have not lived the same kind of life. Identifying the various stressors present is necessary. Individuals can use journals to identify particular elements that are difficult to process, including recognizing specific times of day, days of the week, problem areas, or other responsibilities. Addressing the stressful circumstances that profoundly affect an individual can create a complete picture of the forces that inform their use of drugs or alcohol.
No stress is “too small” to carry weight and influence the use of addictive substances. Families of military personnel can benefit from acknowledging these challenges. It is important to avoid comparing them to other stresses or the dangers that active service members may face. Seeing one’s own needs as important is the first step in creating an effective plan to address these needs and overcome addiction.
Engage in Self-Care
Self-care strategies are essential for overcoming addiction or any kind of stress. It is common for an individual to lose track of their own needs amidst the deluge of other responsibilities at home. Treating self-care as a necessary part of the day can help alleviate stress and, thus, address the use of drugs or alcohol. Families can consider incorporating the following self-care practices into a daily routine:
- Healthy eating
- Watching TV
- Engaging in a social activity, such as a book club
- Participating in hobbies
Taking time for self-care while a loved one is away from home can help individuals address their personal needs while overcoming the use of addictive substances.
Utilize Support Groups
Military families also have their own support groups available to address these unique stresses. Finding local support groups or online communities of peers can help each individual legitimize these feelings while breaking through feelings of isolation. The use of drugs or alcohol to cope with challenges where an individual feels misunderstood or otherwise disconnected from peers is common. A dedicated community to discuss and confront these challenges is necessary to establish healthy change.
Pursue Professional Addiction Treatment
There is nothing easy about overcoming addiction. Military families will have to process the use of drugs or alcohol and the pervasive challenges, stresses, and traumas they present. Professional treatment programs for overcoming addiction are necessary.
Dedicated, trauma-informed treatment programs in Hawaii may be necessary to address these stresses while creating a comprehensive approach to recovery. These programs can help address feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression that may be prevalent, in addition to providing effective strategies for processing urges and cravings to cease engagement with addictive substances.
Military life is stressful for entire families. We at Hawaii Island Recovery are committed to helping families of service members find the treatment they need for their own healthy and fulfilling lives. From personalized support to trauma-informed treatment and therapy, we are committed to helping families navigate the stresses of deployment, as well as helping create a healthy transition to civilian life upon a loved one’s return. From outpatient drug addiction treatment to inpatient alcohol treatment, we can create a program that is right for you, all while building a community of professionals and peers to help you maintain a healthy and sober life. For more information on how we can help you, call us today at (866) 390-5070.