Addiction Treatment Centers for Veterans
Veterans who have been traumatized by the horrors of war and other service-related issues often turn to things like drugs and alcohol to dull their senses and help them forget about those things which are better left forgotten. Addiction has been a problem in the veteran population for several decades and many veterans often do not get the help they need to overcome their addictions.
There are, however, a variety of resources available to veterans dealing with addictions, including a host of addiction treatment centers located all over the country. Some are run by the military, others are private. A number of facilities are designed specifically to treat veterans while some are open to all who face addiction. Programs range from short, outpatient programs for those with mild addiction problems to long-term inpatient programs to aid those with serious addictions.
How Do I Get Help?
Everyone knows the old adage about being not being able to get help until you admit you have a problem. Owning up to one's addiction, of course, is the first step towards addressing the situation.
Most veterans with a drug or alcohol addiction will begin their steps towards diagnosis and recovery by first scheduling an appointment with a general practitioner, who will usually then refer the veteran to a psychologist or mental health center. Most VA facilities offer mental health services that include substance abuse counseling for those who overuse alcohol, drugs - both prescription and illegal types - and tobacco.
After a frank conversation with the patient, the doctor or counselor can determine the level of addiction via the use of certain screening procedures and can determine what kind of help might be best. In turn, the doctor/counselor can offer suggestions for specific programs and assist in the application process for entrance to those programs.
Vets who wish to seek help through the VA but do not have an existing relationship with a local Veterans Administration healthcare facility can contact any local Vet Center or contact the OEF/OIF Coordinator at any VA Medical Center.
What Kind of Help is Available?
Addiction treatment centers and programs come in all shapes and sizes and which is best for each individual case will depend on a number of factors that can best be determined by a professional.
Outpatient programs are offered at many facilities, including most VA hospitals but also at many public hospitals and private centers. They can range from just a few days for people who have been identified as having potential for abuse to a week or two for those diagnosed with substance abuse problems that will respond to this type of program. These outpatient programs often revolve around finding alternatives to substance abuse and introduce the participants to 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, where the patient can continue to receive support.
These intensive programs usually last about a month and include treatment for those determined to need an abstinence-based program. Sessions last all day and generally include individual and group counseling, workshops, fitness activities, and introduction to 12-Step programs.
Inpatient programs are often suggested when outpatient types are not successful but may also be a first line of treatment for those with serious problems. Those referred to these kinds of programs - which are available in VA, public, and private facilities - will generally receive treatment all day/7 days a week for at least a month but often longer. Other activities, including social gatherings and physical fitness time, will also be part of the program. Follow-up programs are offered after the completion of the inpatient stay.
Substance Abuse Centers for Veterans
Veterans may choose to go to a public facility, a private substance abuse center, or a government-sponsored facility. Where one goes for treatment may depend on a number of things including ability to pay and what is covered by one's insurance. However, there are some excellent facilities that cater specifically to veterans and the problems that prompt their substance abuse.
One particularly notable, recently-opened facility caters to what they consider the "New Warriors", those who have served in the war on terror in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Called The Pathway Home, this facility is located in California's beautiful Wine Country and strives to help conquer addictions by addressing the issues of re-transition into civilian life.
Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Naval Medical Center, San Diego
Pathway Home Program