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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
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Palm Healthcare knows the importance of addressing the multi-faceted needs of the individual who suffers from chronic pain. This is why we created the Pain Recovery Program. A person in pain is not only concerned about reclaiming their own sense of well-being and functioning. They are also concerned about reclaiming their sense of purpose, independence, and direction to life.
Palm Healthcare Pain Recovery Program
The focus of the Pain Recovery Program is assisting that person in pain in reclaiming all aspects of their life. Palm Healthcare utilizes a comprehensive bio-psychosocial perspective while incorporating the latest holistic, traditional, and state of the art, non-invasive technology and interventions.
Individuals participating in The Pain Recovery Program are provided a variety of treatment options that include:
- Medication management
- Nutraceutical (vitamin) therapy
- Physical therapy
- Strength and conditioning
- Muscle manipulation therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Aquatic therapy
Each person in The Pain Recovery Program will receive a personalized treatment plan based on comprehensive evaluations and the specific needs of the individual and their specific needs.
Connecting Pain and Addiction
Part of overcoming pain while overcoming addiction is understanding how the two are so closely related. Patients who are struggling with one or both of these conditions often report adverse symptoms such as:
Chronic pain and substance use disorder (SUD) have similar physical, social, emotional, and economic effects on health and well-being; one can easily be confused for the other, while both can exacerbate each other.
Pain in the Brain
Chronic pain and addiction actually have many of the same exact neurophysiological patterns.
For instance: Chronis pain involves abnormal neural processing. Coincidentally, addiction results when normal neural processes are altered into dysfunctional patterns, including disruptions in:
The truth is, there is still a lot to learn about both of these conditions, including patterns of severity, the course of development and responses to treatment.
Gauging and effectively addressing emotional responses is also crucial to effective and lasting pain treatment.
Pain and Emotions
Continued pain can also cause emotional responses, such as:
- Depressive symptoms
Each of these experiences can even turn into more pain. Even after these psychological causes have been addressed the feedback effect can still cause pain in the body.
In fact, there are many studies that indicate pain treatment has worse outcomes when depression is a factor. Some experts say you can even predict how a pain syndrome will evolve based on the emotional status of the patient.
Emotions and SUD
With substance use disorder, the individual’s emotional state is a core cause of continuous drug use. People who use drugs often experience these same emotional responses like anxiety and depression as a result of isolation, social and professional hardships and other side-effects of their drug use. Not to mention the way certain drugs impact the brain. Emotional and psychological trauma can be just as severe for these individuals as physical trauma.
On the other hand, some people may already have a history of experiencing these emotional difficulties and actually be trying to treat themselves by abusing drugs. This feeds into the cycle of emotional distress and substance use.
Both addiction and chronic pain fluctuate in intensity with time under different circumstances. Depending on what is going on in someone’s life, their pain may get worse or seem to disappear, just like an addiction may seem controllable for a time before hitting another harsh bottom.
Both often require ongoing management. But the difficulty can also be that these two conditions feed into each other in a very complicated, and at times toxic, relationship.
Treatment for one can either support or conflict with the other.
The Painful Cycle of Addiction
One of the many difficulties many people experience when trying to overcome addiction while struggling with chronic pain syndrome is that there is a cycle of pain- drugs- more pain- more drugs that seems inescapable.
For example- Narcotic medication typically prescribed for chronic pain may be an issue for someone with a history of substance use disorder.
But then if someone uses a narcotic prescription pain medication, such as opioid analgesics, it can create a physical dependence. Then when the substance is absent from the body the withdrawal symptoms set in.
Withdrawal and Pain
Withdrawal symptoms frequently lead to an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression, while creating even more physical pain. In turn, the anxiety and depression from withdrawal can contribute to that pain even further.
This pain and distress can provoke a severe obsession with whatever substance the individual was relying on to provide relief. In other words, the individual will crave the drug even more because they are not only experiencing the psychological distress from their brain lacking the drug, they are also experiencing a magnified sense of pain from the experience as well.
Again, the cycle of pain- seeking relief from the pain through substances- recurring pain- continued substance use making the problem worse. The Pain Recovery Program is about interupting this self-destructive cycle with new, sustainable methods of pain management.
The Importance of Treating Pain and Addiction
Substance use disorder in relation to prescription pain medication is widely misunderstood, and while some programs focus on treating the addiction, if there is no way of addressing the chronic pain it does not help the chances of successful recovery. Part of working with chronic pain patients struggling with addiction is education on both conditions while providing effective treatment opportunities simultaneously.
Providing pain management opportunities for the U.S. population struggling with substance use disorder is a unique challenge for many primary care physicians. That is why experienced professionals in the field of drug and alcohol addiction treatment are in a unique position to help.
First, we need to acknowledge a few issues, including:
- People recovering from addiction experiencing pain are less likely to receive adequate pain management than anyone else.
- Insufficient pain relief is a substantial risk factor for possible relapse into substance use.
- It is crucial to distinguishing between patients who are seeking relief for legitimate pain and those who are seeking pain medication for recreational abuse
- Psychiatric and medical illnesses can complicate effective pain management
Experts believe that addiction specialists, in particular, can make significant contributions to the management of chronic pain in patients who suffer from substance use disorder. Addiction specialists can:
- Help create safeguards to assure any pain medication is taken appropriately
- Reinforce behavioral and self-care components of pain management
- Help individuals with strategies to reduce stress
- Assess patients’ recovery support systems
- Help to understand and identify relapse risks
Chronic pain management can be a complex process. Experts say that the efficiency of treatment is amplified when all medical and behavioral healthcare professionals involved collaborate as a team. Palm Healthcare Company’s Pain Recovery Program is all about a united effort toward treating both conditions with a variety of experienced professionals and trainers.
Considering how urgent the addiction epidemic is, and the fact that many people struggling with addiction do suffer from chronic pain, it is so important to have programs like this available. Education, support and relapse prevention is the key. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder and chronic pain, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398