The national opioid epidemic affects every demographic, but none as heavily as veterans. According to research conducted by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on veterans and opioid overdose, veterans are twice as likely to die from an overdose than civilians.1 When taking a broader perspective, research shows that more than 47,000 Americans died of an opioid overdose (130 per day) in 2017 alone.2 And considering that only 6 million of the 19.9 million veterans are using VA healthcare, we can safely assume that a lot of these individuals aren’t receiving the help they need. Below is more information about opioid use disorder in veterans and the drug addiction treatment for veterans offered at Banyan.
Opioid use among veterans is linked to a high rate of injury and chronic pain. Veterans often suffer from physical ailments that are the result of injury and trauma experienced in deployment.
Common combat injuries in veterans include second and third-degree burns, broken bones, nerve damage, paralysis, shrapnel wounds, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, loss of sight and hearing, limb loss, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).3 Mental health disorders like PTSD, depression, and anxiety are common in veterans, each of which can contribute to substance abuse.
While all veterans may be at an increased risk of opioid abuse, below are specific risk factors for opioid use disorder in veterans that could increase their risk:
Many individuals turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with mental illness, as well. Unfortunately, the Journal of Addictive Diseases found that veterans underestimate their risk for opioid overdose, exposing a dire need for opioid addiction treatment and overdose prevention among this demographic.4
If you’re concerned that a loved one may be addicted to opioids, below are some signs of opioid use disorder in veterans to look out for:
Veterans and opioid abuse research also show that opioid dosage was the factor most consistently analyzed and associated with an increased risk of overdose. Other factors include concurrent use of sedatives and extended-release opioids and the presence of substance use and other mental illnesses.2 Therefore, be mindful of opioid use signs in veterans if they suffer from combat-related injuries or mental health disorders.
If you or someone you know is a veteran struggling with opioid and/or mental illness, our Military and Veterans in Recovery program can help. Banyan Treatment Centers offers veterans and military drug rehab programs that include medical detox, substance-specific treatment, and mental health care to aid in clients’ full recovery.
Call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 to be connected with a team member.