Barriers Veterans Face When Accessing Addiction Treatment

barriers veterans face when seeking addiction treatmentVeterans face unique challenges during and after their time in service. Although these heroes sacrifice greatly to protect our country’s freedom and citizens, many veterans find that getting help for mental health and addiction is more complicated than it should be.

Our nation’s veterans deserve compassionate, comprehensive treatment to help them live the healthiest, most fulfilling life possible. Unfortunately, various barriers often stand in the way of veterans who are seeking addiction treatment. This article will explore the barriers veterans face when accessing addiction treatment and where to find specialized addiction treatment for veterans.

If you or a veteran in your life needs treatment and support to overcome substance abuse or addiction, you are not alone. Reach out to the team of specialists at Alamo Behavioral Health for information about our comprehensive treatment programs or to schedule an intake assessment.

Barriers Veterans Face When Accessing Addiction Treatment

Veterans face unique stress, trauma, and other emotional distress during their time in service, and many live with physical and psychological wounds. Veterans who develop drug and alcohol addiction require specialized treatment programs that can help them identify the roots of their addictions, build a support network in the community, and create new habits and skills to cope with stress and trauma without relapsing.

However, very few veterans living with addiction get the help they need. In many cases, veterans face additional barriers when seeking addiction treatment. Here are some of the most significant barriers veterans face when accessing addiction treatment.

Limited access

Over 40% of veterans enrolled in Veteran Affairs (VA) live in rural areas that do not have accessible addiction and mental health treatment options. Veterans in rural areas may be unable to afford to travel for treatment, which significantly limits the availability of specialized, high-quality treatment. Even veterans with nearby treatment options often face a lack of reliable public transportation.

Lack of funding

Funding for substance use disorder treatment programs is inadequate, especially in rural areas. Veterans may face long wait times to get into treatment programs or have very limited options on where to find help.

Stigma

The stigma surrounding addiction may prevent people from seeking addiction treatment. Veterans may fear being ridiculed or shamed for seeking treatment or that people around them will think differently about their character or abilities.

The military often promotes a culture of self-reliance and dependability, making it difficult for some veterans to admit that they have lost control over their substance use and need help.

Cost

Most veterans receive VA benefits and coverage, but the cost of addiction treatment may still seem out of reach for some. Veterans–especially those in rural areas–may have limited access to covered addiction treatment services if their local VA center does not provide this type of care. If a local VA center does not offer mental health or substance abuse treatment, veterans may need to seek treatment in other facilities, which may have more out-of-pocket costs.

Co-occurring disorders

Many veterans with a substance use disorder also have a diagnosis of co-occurring mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety. Veterans living with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders face higher rates of homelessness, which creates even more challenges when trying to get addiction treatment.

Veterans who are women face additional barriers when accessing addiction treatment, including:

  • Higher rates of trauma from childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, and sexual trauma that occurred during military service
  • There is a greater need for childcare to accommodate treatment schedules or inpatient rehab programs
  • Need for gender-specific addiction treatment programs because of history of abuse, assault, or trauma

Veterans who struggle with substance abuse and addiction often need additional help and support to find treatment.

How to Support a Veteran With Addiction

Veterans often face many barriers when accessing addiction treatment. Family members and close friends can offer valuable support to a veteran with addiction by providing emotional and practical support in several ways.

Here are some ways you can help a veteran with addiction:

  • Find local treatment options. Call treatment facilities to ask about availability and services so your loved one doesn’t have to.
  • Stage an intervention to help your loved one recognize they need help.
  • Attend medical and mental health appointments if your loved one allows it. Write down important information and keep track of upcoming appointments.
  • Offer practical support, such as child, pet, or home care while your loved one participates in treatment.
  • Navigate insurance so your loved one knows what is and is not covered.
  • Learn about addiction as a disease so that you can offer non-judgmental support.

Supporting someone with addiction can be challenging, both mentally and physically. Taking care of yourself is essential so that you can continue to help your loved one seek treatment.

Find Veterans Addiction Treatment Now

If you or a veteran in your life requires addiction treatment, you are not alone. Reach out to the team at Alamo Behavioral Health now to learn more about our veteran’s addiction treatment programs or to find support at any stage of recovery.

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Seeking help at Alamo Behavioral Health was the single best decision of my life. The clinical team is amazing, and other staff members are friendly and really do their best to create a supportive environment. I have a long way to go, but I know that I'm not alone, thanks to everyone at Alamo.

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