Depression, anxiety, trauma, substance use, and more are all common challenges veterans face. While each of these is incredibly difficult to overcome on its own, many veterans will experience a combination of these challenges, known as co-occurring disorders, throughout their transition to civilian life. Being able to identify co-occurring disorders in oneself or veteran loved ones following military service is necessary to understand the challenges that veterans face and make the most informed decisions on how to pursue treatment and sobriety in professional veteran healing programs. 

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

The term “co-occurring disorders ” is a blanket term used to describe any number of unique situations. It indicates that a person is experiencing both a substance use disorder (SUD) and a mental health disorder in tandem. An individual with co-occurring disorders may also show signs of polysubstance use along with multiple mental health needs or challenges, further necessitating the need for professional treatment.

For veterans, co-occurring disorders can be exceptionally prevalent due to the unique lifestyle and experiences that come with military life. Not only can SUD be common following service as a result of heavy on-base drinking cultures, exposure to prescription painkillers due to injuries incurred in the line of duty, and much more but feelings of anxiety, panic, depression, trauma, PTSD, flashbacks, and more can also beget the use of these addictive substances. 

Some potential combinations of challenges that veterans may face that constitute co-occurring disorders include:

  • Alcohol use and panic disorder
  • Depression and opioid use
  • Prescription painkillers and flashbacks
  • Trauma and binge drinking
  • Bipolar disorder and marijuana use

This is not an exhaustive list of the potential combinations, with other mental health disorders, eating disorders, and various forms of addiction all constituting co-occurring disorders. Veterans who have navigated traumatic and life-threatening situations may be at an increased risk of developing SUD in an attempt to self-medicate these harrowing experiences. Additionally, those who have experienced a traumatic brain injury or other injuries in the line of duty may also be more susceptible to the exposure and misuse of addictive substances. 

For veterans with co-occurring disorders, it is necessary to address both sides of these challenges in tandem. The use of addictive substances can further mental health challenges just as these continued journeys with trauma, anxiety, depression, guilt, and more can further facilitate the use of drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Having professionals to help address not just the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and substance use but also explore how they inform each other, interact, and impact daily life is necessary for transformative and sustainable change. 

Managing a Dual Diagnosis With Veteran Specific Programs
Managing a Dual Diagnosis With Veteran Specific Programs

Dual diagnosis presents a unique challenge for veterans pursuing a healthy and fulfilling sober life. For more information on how we can personalize a treatment plan for you, or to speak to a staff member about your needs, call us at (866) 390-5070.

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Identifying Co-Occurring Disorders in Loved Ones

Despite the profound effects that both mental health disorders and addiction have on daily life, it can still be difficult to identify co-occurring disorders in veteran loved ones. Educating oneself about the signs of addiction is paramount, especially if the use of drugs or alcohol begins to impact a veteran’s social life, professional life, attitude, mood, and relationships. 

Some signs that may indicate the need for professional treatment for veteran loved ones could include:

  • Constant complaints about chronic pains, or constantly needing prescription refills to address these pains before the refill date
  • Pervasive feelings of guilt or survivor’s guilt
  • Engaging with drugs or alcohol at all hours of the day
  • Frequent and intense mood swings, especially if the use of drugs or alcohol feels needed to “normalize” or calm down
  • Difficulty sleeping, or as if drugs or alcohol are necessary to “wind down,” or get a good night’s sleep
  • Adopting a more secretive lifestyle, such as locking doors or feeling attacked when asked about aspects of their day
  • Compromised workplace performance or attendance
  • Financial strain
  • Disinterest in previous personal hobbies

Likewise, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are also common in veterans, and professional treatment to address PTSD, survivor’s guilt, moral injury, and other challenges unique to the veteran population is necessary to prevent SUD from manifesting and informing co-occurring disorders. 

Navigating the Stresses of Veteran's Day
Navigating the Stresses of Veteran’s Day

Celebrating Veteran's Day is an important time. Veteran's Day can be difficult for many, and knowing how to celebrate and acknowledge the stresses can be the best approach to a truly fulfilling and meaningful holiday for veterans. For more information on how our luxury rehab in Hawaii can help, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.

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Finding Effective Veteran Treatment at Hawaii Island Recovery

Overcoming the challenges of co-occurring disorders is incredibly difficult and demands a unique approach to healing and a dedicated and individualized treatment plan. For veterans, this is crucial due to the unique experiences, lifestyles, and mentalities instilled throughout military life. Dedicated veteran alcohol and depression treatment programs are essential to not just address the unique challenges of military life but also to connect each person overcoming any kind of co-occurring disorders to veterans to peers who can truly sympathize with and develop strategies to address these challenges. 

Hawaii Island Recovery’s dedication to the veteran community, coupled with dedicated veteran programming and a commitment to holistic healing, can help veterans and their families begin this complicated healing journey. Co-occurring disorders can be exceptionally difficult to navigate, and professional treatment is necessary to explore not just how mental health disorders, trauma, and substance use affect a person’s daily life but also how they may continue to inform each other to develop effective strategies and relapse prevention plans. Hawaii Island Recovery’s commitment to personalized healing across mental, emotional, and spiritual healing, is paramount to creating the best approach to a fulfilling and sustainable sober veteran life. 

Co-occurring disorders are complicated, and finding effective and holistic treatment that is individualized is paramount to truly effective and sustainable healing. Hawaii Island Recovery’s dedicated alcohol and depression treatment, trauma support, drug use treatment, and more can all be personalized to fit your needs and goals in pursuit of a healthy and sober life. Our approach to comprehensive treatment addresses not just the symptoms of addiction or mental health disorders but also empowers you to explore how they may impact each other, all while committing to a holistic approach to change that addresses mental health needs, medical support, social needs, and spiritual healing. For more information on how we can help you overcome co-occurring disorders, call us at (866) 390-5070.