Effective Drug Rehab for Veterans
There are cases of drug addiction where substance abuse is accompanied with mental health disorder. This is what is known as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. The two problems can easily overlap and often one contributes to or causes the other.
The types of drugs that are often abused have properties that significantly affect the brain’s normal function, and chronic abuse eventually leads to mental impairment and imbalance. On the other hand, certain medications prescribed for mental illness share some similar psychoactive properties with these drugs. They’re beneficial as long as they are correctly prescribed and used, however they can be very risky because many are highly addictive.
This is the situation that some recent war veterans face. Those that suffer from physical pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are prescribed with highly addictive and powerful painkillers, such as morphine. According to a government study on the matter, they’re actually twice more likely to be given such medication than those just dealing with physical pain. That fact, in turn, increases the danger of drug abuse.
Treating Veterans with Medication and Therapy
Doctors treating veterans are always performing a balancing act. How does one relieve the pain and stress without risking dependence and abuse? Some of the solutions involve putting the use of medication only within a broader treatment plan that includes, among other methods, physical therapy and counseling. Veterans already suffering from addiction can utilize dual diagnosis recovery programs.
This effective drug rehab method considers the complications of dual diagnosis. Mental disorders and substance abuse are two separate but related issues. Such a recovery program must first accurately establish that a dual diagnosis case does exist.
A Customized Treatment Plan
From there a customized treatment plan can be made where medication is just one carefully monitored aspect. This treatment plan should address the veteran’s specific needs, challenges, goals, and interests. Based on these, the treatment plan will include different types of therapies, such as psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral, music and art therapy, and life skills training. The most effective treatment involves one-on-one therapies as well as small-group workshops where veterans can share their stories while learning from others.
The goals of a customized treatment plan are to:
- Address any co-existing mental health conditions
- Uncover the underlying issues that led to addiction
- Develop the skills needed to choose sobriety over substance abuse
- Find new, healthy ways to enjoy free time
- Mend relationships affected by addiction
- Create an aftercare plan
Afflicted veterans have a better chance at finding their path to recovery with a program that considers their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, or in other words, a holistic approach to rehabilitation. This customized treatment plan should evolve as the veteran progresses through recovery. As needs change, therapies must address the new challenges and goals veterans face.
Aftercare: Key to Ongoing Sobriety
The challenges faced outside of rehab can lead to relapse if a support system is not in place. Before leaving rehab, the veteran must have a clear, customized aftercare plan that addresses his or her concerns. This aftercare plan should include ongoing counseling as well as regular check-ins with the rehab facility. Just as the treatment plan was adjusted as needed, so too should an aftercare plan. Life events, both good and bad, can shake one’s sobriety. With an aftercare plan in place, the veteran has the tools and support necessary to maintain sobriety.