Table of Contents

  1. Why Are Service Members at an Increased Risk of Substance Use Disorders?
  2. Mental illness and Military Veterans
  3. What Happens During Substance Abuse Treatment?
  4. Help for Military Personnel With Drug and Alcohol Dependence
  5. Why Are First Responders at a Higher Risk of Substance Use Disorders?
  6. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and First Responders
  7. Signs of Problems With Drugs or Alcohol in First Responders
  8. Specialized Addiction Treatment for First Responders
  9. An Addiction Treatment Program Designed for First Responders

According to the National Veterans Foundation, drug and alcohol abuse are growing concerns among military service members. With more veterans than ever seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and mental health disorders, the link between the two can’t be ignored. Combat exposure, risk of injury, chronic pain and a wide range of mental health problems put our country’s heroes at an increased risk of drug or alcohol addiction.

An increasing number of veterans are struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders such as PTSD and other mental health issues. If you or someone you love needs help for drug or alcohol abuse, specialty treatment programs are available.

Keep reading to find out about addiction treatment for veterans suffering with addiction here at Greenbranch Recovery.


Call (833) 272-6246 or contact us to learn more.

Why Are Service Members at an Increased Risk of Substance Use Disorders?

There are a number of reasons substance abuse is common among military service members and veterans. Trauma is the primary cause, and it’s best described as an unhealed emotional wound. When the brain is faced with a situation that falls outside of what it expects to encounter in daily life, it doesn’t know how to process it. What’s more, events that are highly risky and stressful lead to an influx of stress hormones. In high doses, these chemicals can be toxic and lead to chronic inflammation and other disorders.


Aside from unprocessed trauma, which requires the help of a professional to overcome, there are some other reasons alcohol and drug abuse are prevalent among veterans and active duty service members:

  • Prescription drug abuse is more likely because veterans are at an increased risk of getting injured and having narcotics prescribed to them.
  • Traumatic brain injury is more common among military personnel and veterans, and there’s a link between this condition and substance abuse.
  • Members of the military are trained to ignore their fight-or-flight instinct to always fight, which can lead to a disconnect between the individual and their emotions.

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Mental illness and Military Veterans

Veterans are at a higher risk of developing depression, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental illness is a primary risk factor for developing a substance use disorder because both prescription and illicit drugs can be used to self-medicate. For many people, substance abuse is an attempt at regulating chemicals in the brain responsible for mood. Unfortunately, these effects are very short-lived and ultimately lead to further dysregulation.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Per the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is a psychiatric condition resulting from toxic stress that used to be referred to as shell shock. Sufferers struggle with flashbacks of traumatic events, including intrusive thoughts and images that can make it feel like they’re constantly reliving their trauma.


People with the condition become highly avoidant and struggle with heavily dysregulated emotions, and those who develop the illness often already had problems with self-regulation. With emotional regulation implicated in the onset of addiction, the link between military service, PTSD and addiction is clear to see.

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What Happens During Substance Abuse Treatment?

The recovery process for members of the armed forces is a little different than it is for civilians, and a special trauma-informed treatment team usually delivers the best results. It’s essential that any co-occurring mental health condition is identified and treated.

Different types of outpatient treatment programs can be equally effective, depending on the requirements of the individual. Treatment options include a mixture of the following:


Individual Therapy

Individual counseling is essential to help you get to the bottom of what’s causing drug abuse in your case so you can take steps to overcome it. At Greenbranch Recovery, doctoral staff are available to provide EMDR therapy on an as-needed basis. This modality has been shown to specifically benefit veterans with PTSD. Other treatments such as CBT, motivational enhancement therapy and psychoanalytic talking therapy are also used.

Therapy session

Group Therapy

Group therapy is essential during the rehab process because it exposes you to other people’s experiences with substances and trauma, providing an opportunity for perspective, empathy and understanding. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to talk about your own experiences and benefit from being listened to and empathized with.

Help for Military Personnel With Drug and Alcohol Dependence

If you or someone you love is a veteran or in active military service, lasting recovery is possible. Addiction and mental illness thrive in silence, so speak to someone at Greenbranch Recovery to start the process of speaking up for yourself and breaking free from substance dependence. Call us today at 609-622-5101 for more information about veteran drug rehab.

It’s more likely to see first responders struggle with substance abuse problems than the general population. The nature of police officers, firefighters, corrections officers and other first responders’ work means they’re exposed to more life-threatening situations and negative emotions and they experience higher rates of trauma in service of the public. Traumatic memories can be difficult to process and can lead to poor mental health and other conditions such as PTSD.

First responders are exposed to more traumatic events than other people and regularly put themselves at risk for the safety of the public. Specialty substance abuse treatment programs are often required when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction among these populations and are overseen by trauma-informed mental health professionals. If you or a loved one is a first responder who needs help with a substance use disorder, call Greenbranch Recovery today at 609-622-5101.

Why Are First Responders at a Higher Risk of Substance Use Disorders?

Disturbing and life-threatening events can lead to the onset of alcohol or drug addiction and co-occurring disorders, such as mental illness. Law enforcement officers and emergency responders are faced with these types of events as a matter of course. While the alcoholic police officer has been a trope in TV and film for some time, this stereotype stems from the fact that a law enforcement officer is on the front lines of society, protecting the rest of us against crime. No matter how diligent or well-trained they are, this can lead to trauma.

For many first responders with substance abuse issues, drug and alcohol abuse is partly a coping mechanism. Psychoactive substances can numb the emotions and provide temporary relief from the symptoms of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and First Responders

First responders are at a significantly greater risk of developing PTSD. The condition occurs when an event or a string of events is too difficult for the brain to process, leading to trauma.


The fight-or-flight response is governed by your nervous system, which is split into two parts, parasympathetic and sympathetic. PTSD occurs when the sympathetic nervous system dominates, putting you in an almost permanent state of fight or flight.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD doesn’t affect any two people the same, but there are several symptoms that most people with the condition experience, such as:

  • Dreams, nightmare or flashbacks of the traumatic event that are so vivid it feels like you’re constantly reliving them
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the traumatic event as well as talking about it
  • A negative attitude about the self and the world, making it difficult to maintain relationships or pursue activities you enjoy
  • An increase in anxiety and an increase in arousal due to emotional dysregulation
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and shame

Signs of Problems With Drugs or Alcohol in First Responders

Whether you’re the loved one of a first responder or you’re concerned about your own mental health, these are some signs to look out for when assessing if someone should seek addiction recovery services:

  • Health problems such as liver or lung disease
  • Changes in appearance, like pinpoint or dilated pupils, tooth decay or sudden changes in weight
  • No longer paying attention to personal hygiene
  • Memory loss, confusion and inattentiveness
  • Financial problems, such as mounting debts or regularly asking to borrow cash from friends and family
  • No longer taking part in social activities
  • Behavioral changes such as lying, secrecy and unexplained mood swings
  • Poor performance at work

Specialized Addiction Treatment for First Responders

First responders often require specialized treatment for addiction and should always get diagnosed and treated for any other mental health conditions that are present. Trained staff who specialize in trauma should oversee treatment and offer specialty treatments such as EMDR where necessary. Other methods used at first responder rehab include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Alternate methods much as music therapy and art therapy

An Addiction Treatment Program Designed for First Responders

First responders often need to blunt their emotional responses in the line of duty, but the consequences of doing so can be far-reaching and devastating. To get help in an addiction treatment center that offers specialized trauma therapy for emergency responders and police officers, call 609-622-5101 today.