The experiences of military veterans differ from those of civilians in nearly every aspect. From their occupation, to their backgrounds, and their day-to-day lives. It is to be expected then, that the expectations around substance abuse treatment may also be different. Veterans, especially those who have served in war, have unique challenges when it comes to recovery and rehabilitation. Understanding what the reality of veteran's addiction treatment versus expectations can make the road to healing less overwhelming and easier to come to terms with.
Expectation: A Quick Fix
Reality: A Journey of Healing
There is a prevailing sentiment around rehab that it is a quick fix. Struggling with substance abuse? Go to treatment for 30 days and then get on with your life. Physical and psychological wounds of combat, coupled with addiction, take time to heal. Recovery from drugs and alcohol is a lifelong journey; trauma recovery as well. Being prepared to invest time and effort into healing, following suggestions, and walking through adversity will make the road easier to walk.
Reality: Relearning and Adaptation
Like the belief that treatment is a quick fix, many veterans may anticipate that through recovery, they will be able to drink or use drugs like a “normal” person. Additionally, there will be a long period of relearning how to live life and process the effects of trauma. Behavior modification, trigger management, and healthy coping mechanisms must replace old ideas and actions. Permanent changes may need to be enacted to protect and nurture sobriety and health. Recovery is not merely about getting back to your old way of life. It’s about learning to adapt and find new ways to live a life worth living.
Expectation: One-Size-Fits-All Approach
Reality: Personalized Care
A good veteran treatment program will never follow a one-size-fits-all methodology. Rehabilitation programs should always be personalized to each individual. Every veteran has had a unique experience and treatment plans should be indicative of this. The clinical and medical team will work together to create a tailored approach to healing.
Expectation: A Solely Clinical Approach
Reality: Holistic Rehabilitation
While clinical and medical interventions are necessary parts of treatment, many veterans respond positively to a holistic approach. This includes a combination of clinical treatment alongside mental health support, trauma processing, family involvement, and social reintegration. It takes a look at the physical, psychological, and social wellbeing of a vet’s life and provides a comprehensive healing process.
Expectation: The Stigma of Seeking Help
Reality: A Courageous Act
Unfortunately, within the military culture, seeking help for substance abuse or military trauma is seen as a sign of weakness. The military also has a zero tolerance policy on substance abuse so there is the fear of having your career ruined if it comes out that you have a drug problem. Getting help, however, is one of the most courageous acts that someone can do. Veterans should find honor and dignity in getting help. They deserve to be happy, joyous, and free.
Addiction and trauma isolates its victims. It’s easy to believe that entering into treatment will be a lonely experience. Apart from friends and family. The total opposite is true, however. Rehabs promote a deep sense of community and camaraderie. Veterans treatment centers bring together people with the same backgrounds, experiences, and problems. It fosters connections and support. Many vets leave treatment with a larger support network and friend group than when they came in.
Expectation: The End of the Journey
Reality: A New Beginning
While treatment can mark the end of a journey, the journey of substance abuse and living a life tormented by trauma, in reality it is the beginning of a new life. Recovery is a lifelong process of growth and healing. The shedding of old ideas and beliefs for the creation of a brighter future.
If you or someone you know is a veteran and struggling with substance abuse or trauma, call Owl’s Nest Recovery today. Our experienced staff will answer any questions you may have about our treatment program. We’re proud to serve our military community.