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Veteran Addiction Assistance: Rehab for Veterans

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 21, 2024

Table of Contents

There is a wide variety of veterans addiction assistance available for those suffering from substance use disorder (drug addiction) or alcohol use disorder (alcoholism). 

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Grappling with addiction can be especially challenging for military veterans. Often, substance use disorder is rooted in emotional trauma. Many veterans transitioning from service to civilian life are confronted with new battles to fight, sometimes using addictive substances as a coping mechanism. 

Veterans who have served in active combat zones may also suffer from co-occurring mental health conditions like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression. Studies show that 18% of all combat veterans in the U.S. suffer from PTSD. 

Fortunately, there is ample help at hand for all ex-service members looking to engage with veteran rehab. 

Veteran Addiction Statistics

To highlight the scope of the problem of veterans and addiction, some statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Over 20% of veterans with PTSD have a co-occurring substance use disorder.
  • 30% of veterans engaging with substance abuse treatment also meet the criteria for PTSD.
  • 60% of veterans who smoke cigarettes have PTSD compared to just 30% of veterans without a PTSD diagnosis.
  • Many war veterans diagnosed with PTSD and alcohol use disorder engage in binge drinking or heavy drinking. This occurs when a man consumed more than 5 standard drinks within 2 hours, or a woman consumes 4 standard drinks in the same timeframe. 

With veterans especially prone to developing addictions, what can be done to help them? 

Percentage of Veterans with Substance Abuse

Among ex-service members who engage with the healthcare system, 11% have substance use disorder, a rate slightly higher than that observed in the general population. Many veterans develop addictions to benzodiazepines and opioids after initially being treated for therapeutic purposes. Veterans most commonly abuse alcohol. 

Alcoholism in Veterans

Alcohol abuse is commonplace among members of the military in active duty. Regrettably, unhealthy and harmful patterns of drinking can continue after military service ends

This longitudinal study shows that 10% of those who first consume alcohol in military service go on to develop alcohol use disorder. 

One of the primary risk factors for alcohol abuse among military personnel is combat exposure. This study showed that 25% of service members exposed to threats or atrocities continued misusing alcohol 4 months after deployment. Among that percentage, 12% developed behavioral issues related to alcohol abuse.

Prescription Drug Addiction in Veterans

Prescription drugs and opioids are some of the most common forms of addiction among female and male veterans. Prescription drug addiction will often start with prescriptions for chronic pain or other issues. Eventually users will begin using more and more of the drug as they build a tolerance and dependence develops.

Nearly 10% of veterans report experiencing severe pain. This leads to up to a 24% of veterans receiving some sort of opioid prescription. Unmonitored use and abuse causes increased risk of overdose and addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that opioid overdose rates have increased to 21%

As addiction sets in, some veterans turn to other more dangerous alternatives such as heroin abuse when they can no longer get prescriptions.

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Help for Veterans with Drug Addiction

Veterans ready to engage with treatment for an addiction have more options than most civilians. 

As well as the traditional choice between inpatient and outpatient rehab, there is also a dedicated veterans substance abuse program available via VA (United States Department of Veterans Affairs). This can be beneficial for ex-service members unable to meet the costs of treatment out of pocket.

Government Programs

Treatment through VA offers veterans access to the following services: 

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Group therapy
  • PTSD therapy for PTSD symptoms
  • Inpatient rehab
  • Outpatient rehab
  • Medication-assisted treatment

Veterans who require treatment for addiction or mental health issues and have VA insurance benefits for substance abuse should first enroll in a healthcare plan. 

Once enrolled, veterans can schedule a visit with their VA medical provider to discuss the substance abuse issues they are experiencing. The medical provider can conduct an assessment and screenings.

They can also make diagnoses and offer referrals to treatment providers. Vets who are dealing with co-occurring mental health conditions like depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or survivor’s guilt should explore dual diagnosis treatment. This allows for the integrated treatment of the addiction and mental health disorder. 

The camaraderie of being in treatment with fellow veterans can significantly enhance your comfort and willingness to share your experiences in group therapy sessions. If you are not already connected with a VA doctor, call 800-827-1000 for assistance or visit a local VA center. The VA staff will evaluate your needs and help you find the right provider for your needs.

Many veterans approach their healthcare with a combination of VA benefits and additional insurance like Medicare, Tricare, or a private plan. Using an alternate insurance does not invalidate VA benefits if it provides superior addiction treatment.

Medicare provides health insurance for U.S. adults aged 65 and older, as well as some younger adults with disabilities. Veterans may have both VA and Medicare insurance benefits, but they cannot be used simultaneously for the same service. 

VA benefits must be utilized by engaging with treatment from a VA medical provider or through a VA-approved program. If services are sought through non-VA providers, Medicare Parts A and B will be utilized instead. 

If VA services are inconvenient or unavailable, Medicare could serve as a viable alternative for covering treatment costs. Other veterans choose to seek private residential treatment outside of VA services. 

Private Options

Many private treatment facilities specialize in helping veterans overcome substance abuse. These centers often feature programs specifically designed for ex-service members, offering a blend of traditional and innovative therapies tailored to address the unique psychological and physical challenges faced by those who have served in the military. Private facilities may also offer more personalized care with a higher staff-to-patient ratio, allowing for intensive, focused treatment plans that cater directly to individual needs.

Veteran Drug Rehab at Renaissance Recovery

We offer highly personalized addiction treatment programs at Renaissance Recovery in Southern California suitable for veterans addicted to drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications. 

After detoxing under medical supervision to streamline drug or alcohol withdrawal, you can engage with evidence-based treatments at our luxury facility in Huntington Beach, CA. 

The outpatient nature of addiction treatment for veterans at Renaissance enables you to meet your everyday obligations while addressing issues of substance abuse with peers who have lived experience of military service and addiction.

All addiction treatment programs at Renaissance account for the unique aspect of all addictions by offering an individualized blend of the following therapies: 

  • Psychotherapies (CBT and DBT) 
  • Motivational therapies
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Holistic therapies
  • One-to-one counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Aftercare planning 

For veteran rehab Orange County or veteran rehab Palm Beach, call Renaissance to get help at our drug or alcohol rehabs.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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