While the names of the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan strongly imply the intention to create and protect freedom, the truth is that the effects of these operations are steadily stripping away personal freedoms from military personnel, veterans and their families. These individuals are routinely in intense, stressful situations wherein their daily schedule, routines and even certainty of life are perpetually under threat of change. They may witness some of the most degraded human conditions, some of the most horrifying loss of limb and life, and the utmost depths of despair and suffering.
Many military personnel and veterans return from long and multiple deployments with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety that occurs after exposure to a traumatic or stressful situation, especially one in which there is a clear threat of injury or loss of life. Treating physicians often prescribe highly addictive medications to treat PTSD, medications that have dangerous and sometimes deadly side effects even when used as directed.
Substance abuse also occurs among military personnel and veterans returning from deployment. The 2008 Department of Defense Health Behavior Survey indicated that prescription drug abuse nearly tripled among military personnel between 2005 and 2008. Alcohol abuse is also very common, one study indicating that twenty-seven percent of soldiers who had returned from Iraq met the criteria for alcohol abuse and were therefore at increased risk for driving under the influence, violent behaviors, abusing illicit drugs and more. Even though many of these soldiers reported concerns regarding their use of alcohol, they were infrequently referred to the proper treatment and care necessary to address and resolve their problems.
The Benefit of Workable Drug Treatment for Veterans
While there is no doubt that the individuals returning from deployment into war operations need help with addressing and resolving the mental, physical and emotional trauma they experience as a result of their experiences, it seems quite clear that drugs, even prescription medications, are not the proper solution. For those who have become addicted to drugs, the difficulties they face are only compounded by the chemical interruptions in their body, and effective treatment is the solution.
Effective treatment does, of course, address the individual’s withdrawal from and detoxification of drugs. These are very important rehabilitation steps, but an individual who has experienced the stress of war will need further treatment to fully rehabilitate and abstain from future drug use.
Drugs are not a solution to any problem, they simply suppress and hide the problem from view. Whether it is physical, emotional or psychological, the problem cannot be healed by any drug on the market today, no matter how well it was scientifically formulated. It follows, then, that the problem will remain until it is fully addressed and resolved by the individual. In the the case of traumatized military personnel and returning veterans, the problem is usually war-related stress. With the help of a highly trained and skilled counselor the individual can confront, address and resolve the stresses of war that they have tried to hide with drugs. This may not be an easy journey, but it is a way for the individual to finally feel relief.
Furthermore, drug treatment programs that work to make the individual aware of their present environment can cause the individual to feel great relief as they stop focusing on past moments of pain and stress. They can see the world around them without associating everything to a past environment of war. Following this, some life skills that enable that individual to see and resolve future stressful situations without the use of drugs can help ensure that they will not turn to drug use in the future.
Veterans and military have arguably one of the most difficult jobs out there, and they deserve the support and care of their country. This includes medication-free, effective counseling for PTSD and drug treatment when necessary.