The Veteran Mental Health Problem We Need to be Talking About

The Veteran Mental Health Problem We Need to be Talking About

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

When we talk about fighting the addiction problem in America and better understanding substance use disorder, we have to acknowledge those who are at a specific risk for suffering from substance use. Far too many American soldiers come home only to fight another devastating, heartbreaking battle.

With addiction being considered a mental health issue, it should be clear the contribution of overall mental health makes to causing substance use disorder (SUD) in many cases. Depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all mental health issues that often associated with addiction.

Some of those susceptible to mental health disorders and substance abuse are those who fight for the safety and freedom of our country; our Veterans. So we need to acknowledge the mental health issues that the men and women who sacrifice everything for this nation are suffering through. We need to talk about how to best understand these conditions, and how to best treat those in need.

Veteran Mental Health Disorder Statistics

According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research:

  • 20% of Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or PTSD

  • 5% of Veterans in these two categories have suffered a traumatic brain injury

According to the U.S. Department of Federal Affairs:

  • More than 2 out of 10 veterans with PTSD also suffer from SUD

  • In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning soldiers seen in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.

  • Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.

  • War Veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to be binge drinkers.

  • Among all U.S. adult deaths from suicide, 18% (7,403) were identified as Veterans of U.S. military service

Probably one of the most troubling statistics comes from a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which tragically revealed:

Only 50% of returning vets who need veteran mental health treatment will receive these services.

That is an extremely troubling number. It says a lot about how Veterans are struggling to get the help they need when you realize that only around half of them ever get it.

Veterans and Substance Abuse

One of the hardest issues to address when examining the veteran mental health issue is substance abuse and SUD. It is also one of the most important aspects of Veteran mental health treatment that need to be acknowledged.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that substance abuse among veterans is strongly connected to their experiences in combat and how they struggle to cope with these traumas. Various NIDA studies indicate that:

  • 25% of Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan showed signs of SUD

  • In 2008, active duty and veteran military personnel abused prescription drugs at a rate that was more than twice the rate for the civilian population

  • In 2009, the VA estimated that around 13,000 vets from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from alcohol dependence syndrome and require veteran mental health treatment for this problem.

PTSD and SUD

A lot of people, even those who are not Veterans but have experienced great trauma, use substances to self-medicate and deal with PTSD. Even for those who have never had an issue with substances or may never have even used substances, PTSD increases the risk an individual can develop a drinking or drug problem or SUD.

To make matters worse, PTSD and SUD can likely lead to other problems in life, including health. These Veteran mental health issues can often be associated with:

Ultimately, using drugs or alcohol in combination with PTSD might seem to make things easier, but will actually make them a lot worse. It creates a vicious cycle of numbing and re-traumatizing.

Better Treatment for Veteran Mental Health and Addiction

Many advocates for Veteran services, including the National Veterans Foundation (NVF), believe:

  • More funding needs to be allocated for Veteran mental health care services so that every veteran has easy access to this type of care.
  • Excessive wait times at local VA facilities need to be addressed in order to grant people the access they need to these services.

The NVF website states:

“We can no longer look the other way or continue to underfund the mental health care system that our veterans use.”

This should absolutely be a priority. Strengthening the system that provides mental health care not just to citizens who are suffering, but to our vets who have given so much and desperately need help, is crucial to saving lives from substance use disorder.

Not only does Palm Healthcare Company understand the importance of providing quality addiction recovery treatment, but we also know how important dual diagnosis treatment is for those who suffer from serious mental health conditions like PTSD or major depression along with addiction. Better treatment means addressing both conditions simultaneously, to help the individual heal holistically.

Palm Healthcare Company also knows how important it is to help those first responders and Veterans that put their lives on the line every day. That is why we are a proud sponsor of the Harrigan Foundation’s Annual Run to the Rescue 5K to raise money for the treatment of first responders and veterans.

To find out more about this event, visit the link here:

Harrigan Foundation’s Annual RUN TO THE RESCUE 5K

Mental health care and addiction treatment for vets is an important resource that can save lives and our veterans put their lives back together after experiencing trauma and hardship that causes PTSD and the devastation of substance abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling, you don’t have to fight alone. Please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

How Chris Costa Reinvented Himself and Achieved 5 Years of Sobriety

Recently, Chris Costa was a guest on The Real Deal On… with Dug McGuirk where they discussed the topic of reinvention.  Chris Costa is incredibly familiar with reinvention. He turned his entire life around after a long battle with addiction, and now shares his story of strength and hope to help others.

A little over five years ago, Chris Costa was at his breaking point. Costa describes how his family allowed him to reach rock bottom when they kicked him out of the house in the middle of February in Boston.  During this time, he realized how unmanageable his addiction had become.

“I was left on m­y own, and I was left in the position where I really had to come to terms with the fact that I had a problem, and it became more and more apparent every day that it was a problem that I couldn’t fix myself,” he says.

Once his resources dried up, Costa did whatever he needed to support his habit and prevent feeling sick.  While he is not proud of his past, he is open about it because he believes it led him to where he is today.

“I’ve had to do things that I’m not proud of. I’ve had to do things that I’ve had to make amends for. I’ve had to do things that certainly wouldn’t hold up to the values that I have today or the values that I even had then,” he admits.

“Waking up on a couch of someone you don’t even know and seeing yourself in the mirror and having the disappointment of what’s happened over the past several years hit you in what they call a moment of clarity… It’s heavy because you feel like you’ve betrayed not only yourself but everybody that cares about you, and it’s hard to understand why you’ve done what you’ve done, and it’s hard for them to understand why you’ve  done what you’ve done.”

Shortly after his moment of clarity, Costa walked into Palm Partners on February 12, 2012, finally ready to turn his life around.

At Palm Partners, Costa learned about what it meant to be an addict. He realized there were tools that could help him navigate life, and he began to understand the reasons for his addiction.

“One of the things I’ve learned […] is we’re not bad people trying to learn how to be good. We’re sick trying to learn how to be well,” he says.

Learning to Follow Suggestions

When Costa first arrived at Palm Partners, his plan was to stay no more than 30 days before returning home. However, one of the things drilled into his mind in treatment was to take suggestions.

Following suggestions, he ended up staying at Palm Partners for 60 days and then spent six months at a halfway house. While at the halfway house, Costa was required to get a job and earn money on his own.

“I was walking to work in the middle of August in South Florida, and I was hitching rides everywhere I had to go to a meeting,” he says.

“I had to ask for rides, and ask for help, and ask what to do next. It all led to taking suggestions and asking where am I supposed to go and what I am supposed to do because everywhere I looked there were people that had more time than me, there were people that had more experience than me and there were people that had been through this. Who am I to have the answers?”

Chris Costa did not rely on handouts. Instead, he established the tools to become self-sufficient. After eight months of working the 12-steps and meeting with sponsors, Costa returned to Boston with the “toolset” he had developed while in South Florida.  Chris Costa knew once he arrived, he needed to surround himself with the right people and create clear boundaries. He had to cut the people from his past that would not serve him.

“I made sure that the people I was returning to, the group of friends that I was returning to, and the people in my life that I knew I would be spending all my time with understood what I was going through, and understood what had taken place in my life,” he says.

Reflecting on the Family Program

One of the biggest revelations Costa had while at Palm Partners was when he realized his family needed help just as much as he did. The family program at Palm Partners helped his family understand his addiction, and process everything that had happened.

“They may not have been running around and doing what I had to do to not be sick, but at the same time, they’re sick in their own way in terms of enabling and not understanding the dynamics of what’s happening.”

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Over the course of his recovery, Costa learned to understand and make amends with those he has hurt in the past.

“It’s a process in educating the people around you or making amends with the people you’ve hurt or burn bridges with. Not all those bridges are going to be salvageable.”

On Keeping the Momentum Going

Now over five years sober, Costa admits that life is an up and down journey.  He’s learned to keep the momentum going even when life gets challenging.

“I think one of the biggest things that I try to come back to, and I think it’s said by the great Tony Robbins quite a bit, is ‘don’t let life happen to you, let it happen for you,’” he says.

Costa believes practicing gratitude is the key to navigating life when it becomes difficult.

“Finding the ability to be grateful on a daily basis, it’s a challenge. But I think us as addicts or alcoholics or people that struggle with certain issues, we’ve been through a lot,” he says. “And that gives us the ability to really appreciate some of the little nuances in life that we might not appreciate.”

Overall, Costa is grateful to have his program and tools that keep him sober. He continues to work hard as a driven Sales Director and share his incredible story of recovery with others.

“I never would be the person that I am today without having to experience what I’ve experienced and do the work I’ve had to do to get to where I am today.”


Watch the full interview to learn more about Chris Costa’s journey and delve into more important topics like achieving career goals and maintaining a strong recovery program. Costa’s story is a fantastic illustration of how working a solid program can transform your entire life. If you are struggling with addiction, please reach out. You do not have to do this alone. Call now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

What Chester Bennington Taught Us about Addiction and Depression

What Chester Bennington Taught Us about Addiction and Depression

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

I remember in junior high school when the guys and I pressured my friends mom to drive through a snow storm to the concert. After bugging a couple buddies to pitch in and buy me and my friend Chris tickets to see Linkin Park live in Columbus, Ohio for their 2003 tour with Hoobastank, Story of the Year and POD. While some of my crew preferred these bands I had history with Linkin Park albums:

  • Hybrid Theory
  • Reanimation
  • Meteora

I mean come on; Meteora was one of the highest selling alternative music albums of all time! Hybrid Theory went multi-Platinum in several countries! You don’t have to love Linkin Park to acknowledge the impact this band had on music.

We were only 13 or 14 years old, and it was a massive crowd, probably full of lost kids just like us. Linkin Park is that sometimes melodic, sometimes growling scream that spoke to something in so many people. At 11 and 12 years old, when their fame was just beginning, their songs put words to things I didn’t know how to say. It was gloom and rage that inspired millions of people.

Granted in years since, I have grown away from their changes in sound and style. But I remember having the LP patches and stickers all over my stuff, next to my Tupac and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I remember wanting to dye my hair and spike it out… because punk rock! And to freak out my mom.

And I remember listening to Reanimation on repeat trying to learn all the new words to remixes of my old favorites.

I remember when they did a remix album Collison Course with Jay Z.

And I remember stomping around the street in my small Midwestern neighborhood, late night in the pouring rain, banging my head to “One Step Closer” feeling like the most misunderstood kid ever.

So when the news broke today that the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington had died it was so surreal. But when you look back at the artists music and his life, we have always been given a window into his pain, through a fierce puncturing scream and emotional lyrics.

Early Reports

Initial reports from TMZ were later reiterated by various sources of Bennington’s passing. Brian Elias, the chief of operations for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, confirmed the death reports. At the tragically young age of 41, Chester Bennington leaves behind 6 children from two relationships. Not to mention a loyal family of musicians and millions of fans all over the world.

According to Elias the singer’s death is currently being investigated as a possible suicide. Chester Bennington was close friends with the other legendary rock vocalist Chris Cornell, who recently committed suicide in May. On what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, Bennington appears to have taken his own life.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were lit up in a matter of hours with thousands and thousands of fans sending their love and support to Bennington’s family and the band. Celebrities from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to director Joss Whedon, rockers like Corey Taylor of Slipknot and graphic artists like BossLogic, to Chance the Rapper, Killer Mike and Cypress Hill took to the internet to pay homage and talk about how Linkin Park’s music helped them through tough times.

Chester Bennington: Pain and Addiction

With songs that were full of dark and deeply personal themes and words, it is not hard to imagine that Chester Bennington faced his demons. But Bennington himself has been open about his fight with drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life, and his battles with the abuse he faced in his childhood.

Skimming through multiple sites and past interviews, you find that in life Chester Bennington had seen his fair share of darkness. In an interview years back he opened up about being molested and beaten by an older male friend beginning at age seven. At 11 years old, his parents divorced and he was forced to live with his father. After discovering drugs, he used:

At one point saying in an interview in 2016 he was taking 11 hits of acid a day:

“I dropped so much acid I’m surprised I can still speak. I’d smoke a bunch of crack, do a bit of meth and just sit there and freak out. Then I’d smoke opium to come down. I weighed 110 pounds.”

Benning was able to avoid heavy drug use for a while, but after becoming hugely successful, drugs found their way back into his life. For a few years after getting clean in 2006, Bennington went on to openly discussed how his fight with addiction and his recovery fed into the roaring rage and agony in his music. In an interview in 2009 with Noisecreep, Bennington stated:

“I have been able to tap into all the negative things that can happen to me throughout my life by numbing myself to the pain so to speak and kind of being able to vent it through my music,”

“I don’t have a problem with people knowing that I had a drinking problem. That’s who I am and I’m kind of lucky in a lot of ways cause I get to do something about it.”

One of the most well-known songs Linkin Park ever released was the haunting and heartbroken song “Crawling” from their debut album Hybrid Theory. The video was pretty cool visually for its time, and the song itself is pretty much the pinnacle of emotional screaming “nu rock” of the early 2000s. Linkin Park later won the Grammy for best hard rock performance in 2001 for “Crawling”.

You want to see something intense, watch the clips of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington sing “Crawling” live on stage in 2008.

Later on Bennington was quoted as saying this song particularly was,

“- about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol.”

He went on to explain the feeling of being able to write the words, sing that feeling into his music and win a Grammy after selling millions of records. In another interview, when discussing his back and forth battle with addiction and relapse Chester Bennington talked about the song “Breaking the Habbit” and how upon reading the lyrics, he broke into tears because he felt that at the time his band mate and fellow vocalist Mike Shinoda was writing about his life.

In His Own Words

In an interview that recently became on viral video in light of the tragic death of Chester Bennington, the singer himself made a profound statement about struggling with life on life’s terms, depression and the desire to give up, saying:

“None of us are immune from just shit happening to you, and not to you but just making poor choices or being human. There’s always that element and for me life got really weird and really hard all at one time.

There was a few times over the last couple years where I was just ready to throw in the towel and just give up on everything, but I found that, for me most of my suffering is self-inflicted.”

He later continues stating:

“I’ve always had this depressive side, and I think that’s something some people may not have gone down the road of injecting and living on the streets and that kind of stuff, so they think ‘Oh my story’s not that bad’. Dude, no man, if you’re here, if you’re here, it’s that bad.”

His words have always been good for striking a nerve. Now especially these words are easy to relate to, and easy to see how Bennington was desperate for something… what, we may never really know.

In death, Bennington has shown us that we don’t always know what people are going through. Back in 2016 he had told an interviewer from Metal Hammer,

“The idea that success equals happiness pisses me off. It’s funny to think that just because you’re successful you’re now immune to the full range of the human experience.”

It has become another tragic and heartbreaking example of how success in the professional or monetary sense does not make someone happy. That recovery and sobriety can be a battle, and no amount of money or prestige can make someone content with their own mind.

In life, Chester Bennington used his music to teach us about experiencing our pain as a beautiful thing, and to find ways to express it. His music showed a lot of young people they were not alone, and that being hurt did not mean they had to be afraid. And even if you were afraid, he admitted that fear is how we fall. He spoke openly in interviews countless times over the years about the traumas he personally had to face, and about the devastation he had put himself through in that process. Chester Bennington taught us we didn’t have to be perfect to be transparent, and for some of us gave us a reason to relish in the fury of youth.

Bennington talked about finding something worth fighting for, whether it was freedom and human rights, or identity and creativity. By uniting so many people from all over the globe in common emotional intensity, it is music like that of Linkin Park that also removes some of the stigma surrounding depression, addiction and trauma. And this news has inspired a greater call to action for anyone struggling with substance use disorder, depression or abuse to reach out and find help any way they can.

From one kid who knows depression, anxiety and alcoholism… and who discovered unique forms of self-expression through your music and the various projects you were involved with visually and otherwise, thank you for all you gave us.

“In the memory you’ll find me

Eyes burning up

The darkness holding me tightly

Until the sun rises up”

In memory of

Chester Bennington

March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017

If you or someone you love is struggling, please do not wait. Please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.

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Why Introverts Need to Expose Themselves Immediately

Why Introverts Need to Expose Themselves Immediately

All over social media, articles with titles like “5 Ways to Know You’re an Introvert” or “Why Introverts Are Great to Date” continue to gain popularity. Suddenly, it seems like being an introvert is the latest trend. However, the reality is most people still do not know what it means to be an introvert

Many assume that introverts are simply shy people. This is far from the case. In fact, introverts are often actors, performers, and motivational speakers. Introversion has more to do with how you enjoy spending your time re-energizing, and not how shy you are.

Extroverts tend to re-energize by engaging in social activities like going out to eat with friends, or mingling at a party.  While introverts may enjoy these activities, they do not find them to be energizing. Instead, they are likely to re-energize by staying home, reading a book, or meeting a friend one-on-one for coffee.

Everyone is different. Introversion and extroversion occur on a spectrum. No one person is completely an introvert or completely an extrovert. However, introverts tend to share certain traits and challenges.  Recently, Heidi McGuirk, the co-founder of Revolutionary Health and life coach, opened up about what introversion means.

McGuirk affirms that it is crucial that introverts discuss their personality type with others. Otherwise, it is easy for relationships and friendships to suffer due to misunderstanding.

Introverts vs. Extroverts

McGuirk explains the difference between introverts and extroverts in by using her career as an example:

“The easiest way to explain it is my husband and I do the exact same thing for a living: we both speak, we both teach, we both do seminars and workshops. He can speak all day long, do an eight-hour training and at the end of that training, want to go out to dinner with as many people from that workshop as possible, and stay up and talk and continue to go,” she explains.

However, McGuirk does not respond the same way to social stimulation.

“After I do a workshop, whether it’s two hours or eight hours, I need to go home, fold the blinds, get cozy comfy and disappear and take a hot bath and kind of not talk to anyone.”

Why is there such a huge difference?

McGuirk explains it’s because introverts need to recharge. If this is not understood by all parties involved, it can often come across cold and aloof.

Another example she uses is when she and her husband go to Disney World with their toddler. While McGuirk loves to go to Disney World, at a certain point, she finds she must take a break from the constant stimulation.

“Being an introvert, I love being there, but there’s a certain point that I have at Disney that’s like the breaking point where I just need to kind of go find a spot to be alone, and just be by myself,” she explains.

It’s important to communicate this need, McGuirk says, because otherwise, the people around you will wonder what suddenly went wrong.

“If I don’t communicate that, it can look like 0 to 60 in a split second because I’ll be having fun and all of a sudden, uh-oh, I’ve reached my boiling point,”  she says. “ If I don’t tell [my husband] what’s going on with me, he’s left scratching his head going, ‘What’s wrong with her? Is she bipolar or crazy? Or is it me?”

Instead of hiding, introverts need to expose themselves, rather than pretend. Introverts have a tendency to try to overcome their introversion through behaving like an extrovert. However, after a while, introverts burn out and cannot hide behind that façade anymore.

Why Introverts Detest Small Talk

Introverts have a need for solitude and a more focused communication style. It is important to explain those to others who lean on the more extroverted side, McGuirk explains.

Furthermore, introverts tend to detest small talk. Small talk is seen as wasted energy that introverts would rather save for more important, meaningful conversations. For example, introverts are not likely to want to have long, lengthy conversations with their server at a restaurant.

“A ten-minute conversation about fish drains me quicker than anything you can possibly imagine,” McGuirk admits.

On the other hand, introverts find they can withstand deeper conversations much easier.

“If you want to sit and talk about your childhood or if you want to talk about something deep and meaningful, I can do that all day,” she says. “But small talk depletes me.”

Introverts are the type of people who will go to a party or event and talk to one or two, instead of mingling around the room. Deep, meaningful conversations do not drain the introvert like small talk. An article in the Huffington Post explains that most introverts view small talk as meaningless conversation and view it as a barrier to more meaningful conversation.

Author Diane Cameron states,  “Introverts crave meaning, so party chitchat feels like sandpaper to our psyche,” or like the depleting of precious, precious energy.”

Introverts Need to Expose Themselves to Friends

Introversion can seriously affect friendships. It is common for introverts to make plans with friends and want to cancel last minute because they desperately need to recharge their batteries.

“You might love your friends and want to be around your friends, but guess what, sometimes you make plans with your friends, and you instantly regret it,” McGuirk says. “But instead of communicating that, you make up a lame excuse or just don’t tell them anything at all, and they’re left wondering what’s wrong with them or what’s wrong with you instead of having an open communication.”

Introverts struggle with very extroverted friends because they feel over-stimulated.

“You might have a friendship that’s overwhelming to you where it’s too much; it’s too fast. It’s too much, it’s too intense, and they want to do stuff all the time,” she says.

Heidi McGuirk says it’s crucial to explain your personality type to these types of friends, so they know where you stand, instead of disappearing. Let them know that you have a threshold for stimulation, and the two of you must adjust to meet each other’s need.

“It’s important that you communicate that because if you don’t, you’re going to suck it down and suck it up and what will happen is eventually, you’ll be overstimulated, and you’ll blow up. You’ll reach a breaking point, and for many people, that’s actually when they start using other coping skills,” McGuirk says.

Communicate or Risk Negative Coping Strategies

These other coping skills may include numbing these desires for introversion with drinking, flaking, disappearing, isolating or cutting people off. Instead, introverts must make themselves a priority. They must expose themselves to others, so they are aware of these needs.

Introverts tend to be highly sensitive people who need time to process the world around them. Introverts do not need to be cured or fixed, and this is not possible regardless. Instead, they need to be understood, just like all types of personalities.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Have you discussed your personality type with those around you? Do not try to numb or hide your true self. Instead, expose who you truly are. If you are struggling with mental illness or addiction, please reach out. We want to teach you the right coping mechanisms. Call today.

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