Addiction and mental health issues are debilitating for all of us, and we each face unique challenges in our struggles with them. For troops and veterans who have been in active duty, there are specific difficulties pertaining to their experience. How can we support them in their recovery?
One way we can support troops and veterans is by realizing how much trauma they’ve likely sustained in their work. They’ve been in direct contact with violence, death and destruction. They’ve been forced to do unimaginable things, things they will have to live with forever. These things are particularly traumatic for anyone, and especially so for those who are asked to cope with them on a regular basis as part of their obligatory duties. Supporting troops and veterans in their recovery means understanding that they will very likely be struggling with depression, high levels of anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result, their ability to cope with everyday life may be severely impaired. Their relationships may become strained. Their physical, mental and emotional health may suffer, leading to serious breakdowns. They can experience panic attacks, nightmares and chronic pain, among other difficult symptoms.
As is true for many of us coping with painful life experiences, troops’ and veterans’ use of addictive substances might increase when returning home. They might be escaping recurring thoughts, painful memories, and horrifying images. Supporting them in their recovery means trying to understand the underlying issues that are fueling their addictions. Rather than stigmatizing addiction, especially in these kinds of situations, we could develop more compassion and empathy for the people who are suffering so acutely. We could foster a cultural sense of inclusiveness that is more welcoming of people and their struggles. We often reject and shun people when they need our support the most. If we were to be more inclusive of them, and treat them with acceptance rather than rejection, we would make great strides in providing people with the support and the resources they need. They would feel more comfortable and empowered when asking for help. They wouldn’t feel ostracized and demonized because of their illness.
Addiction and mental health issues are treatable, but a huge impediment to people getting the treatment they need is the cultural barriers we put up. These function like obstacles for troops and veterans trying to get help after sustaining both physical, life-threatening injuries and the mental and emotional impairments of addiction and mental illness.
The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and the feelings of hopelessness and disconnection that come with it. We’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.