Veterans, PTSD and Substance Abuse

Veterans, PTSD and Substance Abuse

Memorial Day is a good time to assess the condition of our returning military veterans, a group which is fraught with alarmingly high rates of PTSD, addiction and suicide. The rate of suicide among veterans is alarmingly higher than is found in the civilian population, and substance misuse is often involved in these tragedies. An underlying issue is PTSD, which is significantly higher among veterans than in the general population. Dr. Tom Horvath and Len Van Nostrand highlight the connection between PTSD and addiction and the critical role of treatment in healing our veterans….Dr. Richard Juman As the month of May brings Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, becomes a natural topic of discussion. Within this important conversation is the intricate relationship between PTSD and substance use. Our greatest understandings of traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress often come from those who’ve experienced the horrors and devastation of war, which can last long after combat ends. For many veterans, the impacts of war remain as if it were yesterday. Heartbreakingly, their mind continues to be a battlefield of devastating, torturous memories and they are tasked with the challenge of coping with PTSD. Casualties of War: The Somatic, Neurological and Psychological Systems Traumatic stress impacts all of our systems, including the somatic, neurological and psychological systems. When we have painful thoughts and memories, we activate the various chemical and messenger systems of the body and experience distress, tension, anxiety and depression, resulting in ongoing deregulated emotions. Despite repeated efforts to avoid the painful memories and associated emotions, our minds and bodies remember. For reasons we may be...
A Suicide Prevention Solution Hiding in Plain Sight

A Suicide Prevention Solution Hiding in Plain Sight

If you were duck hunting, when do you load your guns…When you see the ducks? Of course not. By the time Homecoming Veterans who need the help the most end up on the doorsteps of their families, for many, it’s already too late. The solution: Help Veterans before they become Veterans. Help them better prepare for homecoming during the critical months prior to separation from military service and during the dangerous months after they arrive home. The Decompression Dilemma The entire military and VA heath systems are operating with a major disconnect for Veterans and their families. A “Catch 22″ exists for Veterans who are suffering the most from PTSD and other Combat related mental health issues. It is a major contributing factor to not only Veteran suicide but it explains some of the underlying reason why Veterans and their families are spiraling out of control and falling between the cracks of our society. The “Catch 22″: Warriors are trained to accomplish their mission or to die trying. Adapt, improvise and overcome is the ethos that is galvanized into their being. This Spartan code has been trained into young men and women of every nation since before Homer wrote the Iliad. Remember the old saying? “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Here’s the problem with this “when the going gets tough” mentality. Warriors who need help the most are unwilling or incapable of asking for it. The catch 22, All VA mental health services are voluntary and the only way to get help after separating from the military is to ask for it. Even worse, there...

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