homelessness and veterans new york

New York veterans make enormous sacrifices in the service of our country. They move frequently and enter dangerous, complex situations regularly. The constant stress, violence and loneliness all take a toll. Many veterans turn to substances like drugs and alcohol to cope. If you or a loved one is dealing with substance abuse, there is help available for veterans with addiction in New York. Let’s take a closer look at why veterans are struggling, and what New York resources are available to help.

Veterans Addiction in New York

Binge drinking and drunk driving have both been on the rise among veterans, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Younger veterans are particularly vulnerable to substance abuse. Alcohol use disorders are the most common substance abuse disorder among veterans. Opioid misuse is also on the rise. As with many who are addicted to opioids, they may be initially used to treat chronic pain issues from military service. Over time, though, veterans may become dependent on opioids.

Why Are Addiction Rates Higher Among Veterans?

Repeated deployments and trauma experienced during combat increase the likelihood that veterans will develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Veterans may use alcohol or drugs to cope with PTSD. Even those who don’t have PTSD are faced with the challenges of reintegrating into civilian life. Finding a job can be a challenge, and family and friends can’t always relate to their experiences. Tens of thousands of veterans are returning home to New York in need of treatment for their substance abuse as well as other underlying mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Treatment Options for Veterans With Addiction in New York

The VA and the State of New York offer specialized treatment options for veterans. Although government programs can be helpful, they sometimes have wait times or limitations that make them difficult for those with other responsibilities. If government programs aren’t a good fit, you or your loved one may want to look for a private treatment program.

Private treatment programs often take insurance, and they vary widely in terms of scheduling and programming. Typically, you or your loved one would start with a detox program. Detox programs focus on getting any remaining drugs or alcohol out of your system with the support of medical professionals.

Treatment is the next step. Residential treatment programs are the most rigorous type of treatment, offering 24/7 support. If residential treatment isn’t an option, there are also outpatient programs with a variety of schedules that can meet the needs of you or your loved one. As you evaluate potential treatment programs, be sure to ask about their experience in treating veterans and any co-occurring conditions you have, such as PTSD.

Help for New York’s Veterans

Our veterans deserve to live the highest quality of life possible. The stress of serving our country can lead to addiction, but there is help and hope. More people are talking about PTSD and addiction, which is lessening the stigma around mental illness. The truth is that struggling with mental health and addiction isn’t a moral failing or an issue of willpower. It’s a complex combination of genetics and environmental factors. There is no shame in seeking help, and it takes real strength to recover from an addiction.