Veterans of the armed forces are well accustomed to overcoming adversity. However, while transitioning to civilian life, veterans face a new set of challenges that can be wholly unique.
From substance use disorder (SUD) stemming from their time in the military to navigating the continued effects of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a professional rehab in Hawaii may be necessary for veterans to establish a healthy and fulfilling civilian life. Knowing what to expect from veteran-specific treatment programs is instrumental in preparing for the recovery journey, all while deconstructing barriers and setting effective goals for treatment.
Taking the First Step Toward Veteran Treatment
Veterans face a unique combination of experiences and stresses from their time in the military, including exposure to:
- Active combat and other life-threatening situations
- An intense drinking culture on base
- Prescription opioid use from injuries incurred in the line of duty
- Survivor’s guilt
Combined with a culture that stigmatizes reaching out for help and difficulty connecting with others in civilian life, veterans commonly feel as if they have to overcome the challenges of trauma and addiction alone.
Dedicated, veteran-specific treatment programs are necessary for veterans from any branch of the armed forces to connect with peers who are overcoming similar challenges and hurdles throughout civilian life. These programs can establish the needed sense of camaraderie for veterans. Additionally, they can ensure that veterans have opportunities to foster meaningful relationships, overcome unnecessary barriers to treatment, and develop the most effective and practical recovery strategies.
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Creating Expectations for Veterans
Veteran-specific treatment is curated to address the unique needs of veterans. Still, beginning a recovery journey of any kind can be intimidating. Understanding and setting appropriate expectations for treatment is instrumental in making the most of each veteran’s time in a center for alcohol and drug treatment while ensuring that they remain motivated throughout each step of their recovery.
Healing Isn’t Immediate
Recovery is a process. While dedicated trauma-informed treatment for overcoming addiction and mental health disorders is paramount for a healthy recovery, it is still a process that will take time.
Veterans overcoming addiction and trauma will not have all the answers or employ the most effective strategies immediately at the beginning of their recovery journey. Rather, they must set achievable goals, such as trying one new strategy a day or making it to a week without using addictive substances. No matter how small they may seem, these are goals that veterans should celebrate throughout treatment and recovery.
Expect Unforeseen Challenges
There can be any number of personal challenges for veterans overcoming trauma or addiction. While many may want to attempt to detox or navigate their recovery on their own, this can be incredibly dangerous. For instance, inevitable withdrawal symptoms will likely surface, including emotional and physical symptoms, which can be challenging to process alone.
Others may experience newfound difficulty when attempting to overcome trauma or mental health disorders. Feelings of anxiety, depression, panic, sleep disturbances, and much more are all common. It can be impossible to accurately predict and navigate each of these challenges.
Rather than expecting to overcome these challenges without support, it can be more beneficial to prepare for some degree of unforeseen change and hurdles. Not only can this take pressure off of each veteran’s immediate recovery goals, but it also fosters a growing and supportive community committed to change and progress.
Fostering a Community
Talking about the emotional, mental, and physical challenges of recovery is difficult. Communities are necessary for feeling heard and understood while navigating these challenges. Emotionally preparing to discuss difficult topics and be honest with oneself and others about personal experiences is crucial. It can be especially difficult for veterans to open up about these intimate and vulnerable topics. However, it is also a necessity in the path of healing.
Veteran-specific treatment can help mitigate the stresses and stigmas that may surround these notions, empowering veterans to explore their emotional and personal needs in an environment that supports this kind of positive change.
However, expecting to have the emotional vocabulary and skills to effectively communicate these complex notions is difficult. Creating a community of healing by expressing a single vulnerability a day – such as asking for help for small, innocuous things like directions, time, or other things – can all normalize the act of accepting the help of others and create an atmosphere of support throughout recovery.
No two journeys for veterans navigating treatment will be the same. Not only may stigmas surrounding veterans make it difficult to open up to treatment, but certain images or ideas surrounding words like “treatment” and “recovery” can also be preventive barriers themselves.
However, treatment is a unique approach to healing, and even medical treatment in recovery does not mean that a person is spending their time in blank hospital walls. Rather, dedicated veteran treatment embraces natural imagery, spiritual healing, exercises, and a plethora of various experiential therapies designed to create a new healthy civilian lifestyle, in addition to ceasing addictive behaviors.
Discussing therapy options, nature therapy, ocean-based modalities, and more can all help deconstruct the idea that addiction treatment is some kind of detached, sterile approach to healing and is instead an exploration of each veteran’s personal, social, and spiritual needs.
Veterans have a unique set of needs and challenges throughout the recovery process. Whether you or your loved one are overcoming the challenges veterans face, from addiction to trauma, PTSD, and more, Hawaii Island Recovery can help you create an effective treatment plan today. From transformative alcohol and drug rehab programs in Hawaii to personalized treatment plans that address your individual, social, and spiritual needs, your time with us is designed to address the needs of veterans in civilian life. For more information on our rehab in Hawaii, or to speak with a caring, trained staff member about your unique needs and goals for veteran treatment, call us today at (866) 390-5070.