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Trauma: We Have it All Wrong

When our heroes come back from a conflict, we breathe a sigh of relief. We think they are safe, that they’ve come home. What we don’t know is that many of our service members will come back and need more help than we could possibly imagine.

71% of Veterans in receipt of disability benefits for a mental health condition have PTSD. Not only that,Around 50% of males and 25% of females with chronic PTSD have major problems with alcohol and drugs; the figures for Veterans are even higher. The flashbacks and the torment that PTSD can inflict on someone is horrendous. It’s a constant struggle with your body, from hypervigilance to feelings of disconnect from the world and with the same series of distinct memories replaying in your head like a video stuck on repeat., One way many veterans cope with their symptoms is to drink or do drugs, often in an abusive pattern that builds up over time. Truth be told, who can blame them when resources are scarce for treating PTSD? Logical thinking dictates that drugs and alcohol do not help with PTSD, and of course there is no scientific evidence that suggests it’s an appropriate treatment route, but self-medicating is not a new concept to anyone, regardless of its ineffectiveness. Many of our soldiers do not want to admit that they are suffering from this disorder, as stigma still surrounds PTSD and many other mental illnesses. Proper diagnosis, treatment and support are key in helping our incredibly brave women and men fight those invisible demons after their service has ended.

The role of Rehab facilities

When seeking treatment for addiction and PTSD, often known as a dual diagnosis,, it becomes paramount that veterans seek help from experts in both fields of treatment. Treating the individual as opposed to just the addiction, will insure better success. It is difficult for our veterans to get the support they need from the government, as it is extraordinarily difficult for even the best intentioned lawmakers to craft a program that would serve the needs of every unique soldier or service member returning home. Addiction and PTSD come in many forms, often with tell tale symptoms, sure, but never quite the same. While resources, funds and help are available to veterans returning home, it will take more time to build them up to where they need to be to ensure no veteran slips through the cracks.

Support from friends, family members, community and experts in addiction and mental health is the best chance a returning soldier has at a happy and prosperous life after their service. Is it easy? Absolutely not. No one should ever think that it is. Is it possible to not feel the debilitating symptoms of PTSD and subsequent addiction on a daily basis? Certainly, but let’s not make any illusions that it’s a simple or quick “cure”. In fact, no cure exists. Unlike the “Men in Black” we can’t simply erase those horrendous and terrifying memories with the flash of a high tech gadget and call it a day. It takes months, years even in some cases of psychotherapy and treatment. It’s hard work, there can be no denying that, but there are fantastic people in this world that dedicate their lives to helping those who sacrificed theirs for our protection and prosperity. We must thank our soldiers, the incredible people who support them upon their return, and all those in the field of addiction and mental health who give our country’s best everything they’ve got to help them overcome trauma and torment, and show our everlasting gratitude for what they fought for.