Addiction is a disease that affects people of all kinds, regardless of race, beliefs, socioeconomic status, and more. However, for retired veterans of the armed forces, age is another important consideration when addressing their relationship with drugs or alcohol. Many retired veterans may have normalized the use of drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism and continued to engage with it throughout their lives despite the negative physical, emotional, and mental health consequences it can cause. However, it is never too late to pursue sobriety in retirement, and retired veterans can benefit greatly from dedicated and personalized substance abuse treatment in Hawaii through Hawaii Island Recovery.

The Challenges of Retired Veterans

Retired veterans often must overcome a plethora of unique challenges following their time in service. Trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, isolation, and more are all incredibly common among veterans, with retired veterans often dealing with these challenges on their own for many years. For some, cultural expectations or stigmas can make it difficult to reach out for help, while others may believe that addressing addiction now after years of engagement would be fruitless – believing that they are somehow “beyond” treatment, or that at this point, there isn’t a need for change.

Retired veterans face several unique challenges at this stage in their lives. Not only can trauma, PTSD, flashbacks, survivor’s guilt, and more continue to impact a person regardless of age until addressed but with age can come new stresses for veterans. For some, children moving out of the house can cause “empty nest syndrome,” while other veterans may find that the wealth of free time in retirement makes engaging with drugs or alcohol much easier, facilitating new and dangerous levels of substance use. 

However, one of the most challenging parts of pursuing sobriety in retirement is challenging the practiced lifestyles surrounding substance use. For many veterans, exploring drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with trauma, loss, stress, and much more can begin on-base, with prevalent military cultures facilitating substance use as a coping mechanism. Retired veterans may have not only begun to explore this attempt at self-medication with addictive substances during their time in service but the role of drugs or alcohol may be wholly ingrained in their expectations, making visualizing life without its use difficult. Challenging the expectation of substance use, even after extended periods of use, is necessary. Furthermore, nobody is ever “too old” to pursue sobriety. 

How Residential Treatment Transforms Lives of Veterans
How Residential Treatment Transforms Lives of Veterans

We understand the challenges that veterans can face in civilian life. Please call (866) 390-5070 for information on how residential treatment could help.

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When to Seek Sobriety in Retirement

Deciding when to pursue professional addiction treatment at Hawaii Island Recovery is an important decision and one that veterans in retirement may have difficulty making. Normalized use of drugs or alcohol can make it difficult to determine when their use has become actively problematic or damaging to their physical, emotional, or mental health. However, there are some signs to look for when deciding when it is time to pursue treatment in retirement. These signs can include:

  • Substance use taking the place of other hobbies
  • Filling newfound free time with the use of drugs or alcohol
  • Strained personal relationships
  • Self-isolation or an unwillingness to attend social events, especially if favoring staying inside with drugs or alcohol
  • Onset of physical health complications, particularly liver damage or compromised cardiovascular health
  • Continued cycle of anxiety, trauma, depression, and substance use

While it can be difficult to determine for oneself when addiction may be affecting other areas of life, if others have raised concerns or questions about one’s use, it can be important to contact professionals for more information about addiction and treatment options for pursuing sobriety in retirement through Hawaii Island Recovery. 

When is it Time to Make Amends in Recovery?
When is it Time to Make Amends in Recovery?

Making amends is an important step of any effective recovery program, even as an alumnus. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or for more information on how we can continue to support you as an alumnus in your sober journey, call (866) 390-5070.

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Challenging Addiction as a Retired Veteran

It can be exceptionally difficult for many retired veterans to take the first step toward a sober future, and committing to a treatment program should be celebrated. Talking with various treatment facilities can ensure that veterans pursuing sobriety in retirement can tend to their unique challenges and needs. Addiction can affect people of any age, but effective treatment programs should always adjust to accurately reflect the needs and goals of each individual. 

For retired veterans, talking about personal goals and what daily life looks like can be a great place to start the personalizing process of an effective treatment plan. Understanding why certain therapies are used and how they relate to a person’s goals is paramount to engaging in genuine change and treatment. Others may have continued to harbor feelings of anxiety, depression, survivor’s guilt, trauma, PTSD, and much more, and addressing these challenges alongside addiction in tandem is paramount, no matter how long each veteran has been affected by these complicated situations. 

Dedicated, veteran-specific treatment is paramount, helping veterans connect with peers who truly understand the challenges of life following service. Many retired veterans may continue to harbor these feelings until addressed. However, treatment and sobriety are always possible and can empower retired veterans to live a truly fulfilling life alongside peers and loved ones and pursue personal goals. 

It is never too late to explore a life of sobriety, and committing to treatment as a retired veteran can be essential for a person’s health and quality of daily life. At Hawaii Island Recovery’s dedicated substance abuse treatment in Hawaii, we are committed to not just exploring the skills and strategies to pursue a sober life but also addressing the myriad of other challenges that may inform the use of drugs or alcohol. From the stresses of retirement to empty nest syndrome and more, we are prepared to customize a treatment program that is right for you, all while surrounding you with a community of veteran peers and trauma-informed professionals. For more information, call us today at (866) 390-5070.