This Memorial Day, millions of American families will take time to honor the memory of the men and women who lost their lives fighting in one of the nation’s wars. It can be a challenging day …
This Memorial Day, millions of American families will take time to honor the memory of the men and women who lost their lives fighting in one of the nation’s wars. It can be a challenging day for veterans and their families.
Yet, outside of this day, we never forget the countless veterans who made it home but now fight new battles. Unfortunately, substance use, drug overdose, and suicide have claimed the lives of countless veterans.
In Rhode Island are over 60,000 veterans, with around 3,000 living in Cranston, most of whom are wartime vets. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 3.9 million veterans have a substance use disorder or mental illness.
Moreover, substance use disorders significantly increase suicidality among veterans ages 18 and older. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are also common among veterans ages 18 to 49.
“Too many vets fall through the cracks and do not receive the help they need. Early intervention saves lives, but it can be challenging for families to know where to begin or where to find help,” said Michael Leach of Addicted.org.
Many causative factors lead to substance use disorders among veterans. It’s common for veterans to struggle to adjust to civilian life. They may face financial hardships, difficulty finding employment, or accessing benefits.
Many other veterans struggle with mental and emotional health problems. This can be compounded with physical injury and chronic pain. Untreated trauma, for example, impacts all aspects of life. Drug and alcohol use becomes a means of coping with unwanted pain or discomfort.
Additionally, there can be barriers when accessing treatment. The cost of treatment and gaps in health insurance prevent many veterans from accessing help. Stigma regarding addiction and mental health is still problematic.
Outside of the standard resources provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the VA facility locator, some of the other options include:
Families also play a significant role in supporting their loved ones. Speaking to them about their substance use and expressing concern is okay. Consider talking to them openly and honestly about their drug and alcohol use. Help them find treatment. Be patient and show compassion. Remember, substance use disorders are treatable.
It takes communities and families to come together to help our veterans. It’s never too late to offer a helping hand and advocate for more resources.
Veronica Raussin is a Community Outreach Coordinator for Addicted.org, passionate about spreading awareness of the risks and dangers of alcohol & drug use.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here