How to Overcome Veterans Addiction Stigma

For veterans and military service men and women, seeking treatment for addiction is a show of strength. 

Too often, the damaging effects of addiction stigma prevent veterans in need of help to seek treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. This reluctance mirrors national trends, with only one in 10 Americans with a substance use disorder actually receiving the clinical treatment needed to help them achieve sobriety.

According to the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States, addiction is not a moral failing or character flaw, rather “it is a chronic illness that we must approach with the same skill and compassion with which we approach heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.” In addition, Veterans suffering from the disease of addiction, or “substance use disorder” as it is clinically known, requires effective, evidence-based treatment according to the VA.

What are the three steps Veterans and service members can take to overcome the stigma of seeking help for drug and alcohol addiction?

1. Accept that addiction is a disease.

Although rates of substance abuse are growing nationally and within the veteran and military community, social stigma surrounding the disease and treatment still remains. This stigma leads to veterans feeling embarrassed or ashamed to reach out for help to address their addiction. Some feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, when in fact it is a tremendous show of strength and the most important step to reclaiming their lives from drugs and alcohol.

2. Understand you are not alone.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 1 in 10 Veterans treated at VA after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan face problems with alcohol or other drugs. Those veterans willing to reach out for help to treat their addiction join a courageous, supportive recovery community of service men and women living in sobriety.

3. Find a trusted nonprofit treatment provider serving Veterans.

Some veterans resist seeking help due to the false belief that all addiction treatment is expensive. In fact, there are nonprofit addiction treatment organizations such as Valley Hope Addiction Treatment and Recovery that are mission-focused on Veteran empowerment in providing SUD treatment services. Valley Hope also offers a Veteran Treatment Services program,  working closely with local VA facilities to provide and coordinate life-saving addiction treatment for eligible Veterans served by the VA Community Care Network. Eligible VA patients can access care at Valley Hope treatment centers by obtaining a referral from VA.

Finding Addiction Help for Veterans

Fighting against addiction stigma by showing strength in reaching out for help can save a Veteran’s life. More than 30% of Veteran suicides are preceded by drug and/or alcohol use and more than 20% of high-risk behavior deaths are attributed to drug or alcohol overdose. These statistics are increasing by the day.

But there is hope and healing available for our heroes.

If you or someone you care about is a Veteran or servicemember and needs help for substance abuse, Valley Hope Addiction Treatment and Recovery’s nonprofit Veteran and Military Services Program strives to serve every Veteran and their family with competent, compassionate, and responsive addiction treatment in an environment that understands and supports the unique experiences of Veterans and military families.

We provide residential addiction treatment in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. Our services are led by accomplished clinical and medical experts with decades of experience in addiction treatment and proven evidence-based therapies. Valley Hope Addiction Treatment and Recovery closely collaborates with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and caregivers to ensure our treatment model brings value to VA’s efforts to address each Veteran’s full range of healthcare needs.

Our holistic, collaborative approach is specifically designed to treat the co-occurring needs of Veterans suffering from addiction and other mental health diagnoses. Our dedicated treatment team is committed to life-changing care, working hand in hand with Veterans and their families to reclaim their lives from addiction and substance use disorder (SUD).

Learn more about our Veterans and Military Services addiction treatment admissions process.

Valley Hope Addiction Treatment and Recovery is proud to help our heroes reclaim their lives from substance abuse.