Addiction Treatment for Veterans

veteran addiction

Members of the armed forces face great challenges. Constantly surrounded by violence and forced away from family to serve their country is a great honor but also brings great suffering in the form of combat-induced mental health disorders including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Learn more about ways to support veterans needing addiction treatment to cope with the challenges facing veterans.

Providing Services

A small percentage of veterans seek help for addiction treatment. Medical and mental health problems tend to get brushed off and addiction treatment is no exception, either. Addiction is sometimes perceived as a weakness which may build resistance to treatment. Veteran specific services may include the following:

  • Peer group therapy
  • Dual-diagnosis treatment options
  • Handicap accessibility for injured or disabled veterans
  • Stress and anger management
  • Family participation including family counseling and education

Treatment Process

Veteran addiction treatment should be thought of as a long-term journey. Typically, it begins with the following four steps:

Screening and assessment

Proper screening prior to participation is key to identifying underlying mental health disorders or issues such as dual diagnosis treatment. Medical professionals will then be able to confirm addiction diagnosis and determine severity of the issue while developing a care plan.


Withdrawal in a dedicated detox facility under supervision of medical professionals is recommended. Doctors and nurses can then help veterans be more comfortable to attend to the individual in case of emergency. Relapse chances are also greatly reduced.


Typically the choice between inpatient and outpatient veteran addiction treatment programs exists due to the needs of veteran populations. Treatment methods used may include behavioral therapy, group counseling and family therapy. Medications may also be used to help alleviate cravings for or pleasurable sensations derived from using drugs or alcohol.


Staying sober is part of any plan recovering individuals with addiction face but it is not always easy. Aftercare programs support continuation of outpatient therapy, provide support and help guide individuals through the journey.

Treatment Barriers

Staying in an addiction treatment program is challenging so facilities want to ensure successful recovery for every individual. Veterans often need to overcome several obstacles. These may include:

  • Belief of addiction equating to weakness
  • Inability to find treatment options
  • Lack of health coverage
  • Inability to pay for insurance or co-pays to lessen the burden

Asking for Help

Veterans with addiction should never be afraid or hesitant to ask for help with overcoming addiction. In spite of what some believe, addiction is not weakness. Therapists may need to step in to help assist addicted veterans and medical professionals can screen for and assess addiction while referring veterans to suitable addiction treatment programs. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one of the best places for veterans with addiction to turn when needing treatment to help support the cost of treatment, mental health services or other necessary support services. In this way, veterans learn they are not alone and will find support for their addiction.

Sustain Recovery provides a unique approach to adolescent care. Call us to find out more about our programs and how we can support the young adult in your life who needs help recovering from addiction.