Military Veterans face many life changing stressors while away on active duty as well as when they return home. To cope with the stress, drugs and alcohol become a way to self-medicate and cover the unseen pain. Substance abuse, because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is a coping mechanism for some of the nation’s Veterans, but with proper medical attention, treatment is possible. PTSD can occur after a traumatic event, in which there are four types of symptoms: reliving the event or flashbacks, avoiding situations that may trigger memories, and feeling numb or detached from life (“United States Department of Veteran Affairs”, 2013). Many classifications of drugs are abused to help cope with the different symptoms of PTSD. Unfortunately, substance abuse has negative consequences and in return, increases the stressors experienced once home. Treatment and recovery options are available to make the coping a positive experience.
There are several risks associated with serving this country, such as leaving home at a young age, training for combat, seeing explosions, witnessing innocent by standards injured and killed, and attacks by the enemy. Returning home is also stressful for many Veterans; mentally and physically life is different, personalities have changed, and the perspective on beliefs are not as they once had been. Some find themselves easily angered, irritated, and no longer finding joy in the activities once enjoyed. Nightmares and flashbacks become a normal occurrence. The symptoms are too common in Veterans with military Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Substance abuse, as a means of self-medicating, becomes a coping mechanism to deal with the haunting memories and symptoms of military PTSD. “One major theory of the relationship between PTSD and substance abuse is that the use of drugs or alcohol is motivated by desires to escape or alleviate the distressing symptoms of PTSD” (Tull, 2009). Alcohol helps sleeping and may cause...
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