Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a significant problem among our nation’s military veterans. Self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse may be triggered by anything that is a reminder of the traumatic incident. Many veterans turn to substance abuse to self-medicate and numb their pain.
Over 20% of veterans with PTSD also suffer from an addiction or dependence on drugs or alcohol.
People with PTSD have a harder time overcoming addiction than those without it. The symptoms of withdrawal combined with the symptoms of PTSD amplify negative feelings and emotions that may lead to a relapse.
According to SAMHSA, an estimated 1 in 15 veterans suffered from a substance abuse disorder in the past year. The data shown below includes the increase in substance abuse among veterans and the associated past wars:
- July 1964 or earlier (pre-Vietnam era): 3.7%
- August 1964 to April 1975 (Vietnam era): 4.7%
- May 1975 to July 1990: 7.7%
- August 1990 to August 2001 (including Persian Gulf War): 6.6%
- September 2001 and later: 12.7%
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