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Each of us has unique challenges to face in coping with our addictions and mental health issues, and the same is true for troops and veterans. What are some of the challenges that troops and veterans must contend with when returning home and working to recover?

Displacement

A major challenge is how displaced troops and veterans can feel upon returning home from active duty. They can feel as though their former lives are distant and foreign to them. They can feel as if their homes, relationships and even themselves have become unrecognizable to them. The trauma and violence of war can make them feel detached from their former realities. Their lives can feel like they no longer make sense. They can feel like their lives, and their real selves, have been broken and damaged. They have to piece together all the fragments that have been blown apart by their painful experiences. They have to pick themselves up and climb their way out of the darkness, much like we do after hitting rock bottom or experiencing a breakdown. They have to learn how to live all over again. They have to refamiliarize themselves with their old routines, their families and friends, their lifestyles and ways of doing things, their homes and neighborhoods.

Loss Of Control

When working to recover, troops and veterans have to face parts of themselves that can be unspeakably difficult. They have to come to terms with the atrocities they were forced to be a part of. They have to admit that they’ve been traumatized, both to themselves and to others. This can be particularly humbling, especially for people who are used to feeling strong and self-assured. Trauma can make people feel weak and powerless, and this can be particularly difficult for people who are used to feeling in control, whom others look to for leadership and guidance, who are used to being celebrated for their bravery, who have even been decorated for their service. They can feel as if they’ve found themselves in entirely new chapters in their lives, taking on whole new roles. They have to recreate their lives to reflect their experiences and the woundedness they’ve incurred.

Co-Occurring Conditions

Because of the trauma they’ve sustained, troops and veterans often have to contend with worsened mental health issues and heightened addictive patterns. They can feel particularly depressed, afraid, stressed and overwhelmed. They can feel lost and alone. They can feel as though no one in their lives could possibly understand them or what they’ve been through. They can feel isolated and ostracized, causing them to isolate themselves even more.

Helping troops and veterans recover means understanding some of the unique challenges they face when returning home, many of which we may never face ourselves but which we can have empathy and compassion for.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you get back the life you love. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.