Addiction and Mental Health in Veterans: Specialized Treatment Options

Veterans are known for their exceptional courage in the face of adversity, and their sacrifices are the sole reason citizens and our borders are protected. However, many veterans go through problems with substance misuse and mental health disorders after retirement. They grapple with many challenges that affect their livelihood. The National Institutes of Health reveals that 41% of veterans experience some mental health challenge.

 Substance misuse and mental health issues are typical problems in veterans. They need access to resources and medical services to help them overcome these challenges. This article explores veterans mental health and addiction challenges, the influence of military culture, and treatment options available to veterans as they begin their recovery journey.

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Challenges Veterans Face

Veterans, mainly those who participated in combat, face unique addiction and mental health challenges. The war experiences and military operations can leave physical and emotional scars that could stay forever. Many veterans suffer lasting traumas, which turn into Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). This condition can lead to the use of drugs as a coping technique. Rather than seek medical help, veterans continue to use drugs and alcohol to suppress their feelings.


Part of the reason for their attitudes is the military culture. Veterans learn to be self-sufficient and resilient and rely on their inner strength to overcome adversities. However, these instilled values can sometimes hinder seeking real help. Plus, mental health stigma can be so strong that veterans desist from seeking help even when told to.

Specialized Therapy Options for Veterans Mental Health

PTSD and substance abuse co-exist in veterans. As such, treating both conditions simultaneously is essential. Dual diagnosis programs are tailored to treat these challenges. This approach boosts the chances of success and lasting well-being. 

These specialized treatment options are tailored to address veterans’ challenges, including trauma and reintegrating into civilian life. The Department of Veterans Affairs supports veterans with substance use disorder and mental health problems access treatment. These VA services address specific concerns and help get back into society. Here are evidence-based treatments and programs typically offered:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is an effective therapy against PTSD and depression. It addresses triggers and negative thoughts that may influence substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Through CBT, veterans will recognize behaviors that may cause their indulgement in addiction and learn realistic alternative behaviors to replace those harmful ones. Veterans learn to refrain from these behaviors and feelings when they happen, thereby living healthily.

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

About 11% of veterans experience depression. ACT focuses on coping with negative thoughts and feelings. This therapy helps them to discover their values and teaches them to live according to them. It also teaches them to focus on important things like family. Veterans are required to attend sessions until they have completed the program regularly.

Behavioral Activation Therapy

BAT is another effective and accessible method for dealing with depression in veterans. It aims to change the way people interact with their environments. During deployment, veterans often forget those pleasurable activities they indulge in their free time. Through this therapy, veterans will recognize these hobbies and activities that bring them joy and find ways to incorporate them into their lives.  

Family and Relational Therapy

Several veterans suffer from mental health issues that strain their relationships with their families. Through family therapy, symptoms of mental health issues are discussed, and family members gain better insights into the mental issues veterans suffer. With this, broken relationships are repaired, and family members can support veterans to complete their recovery. Family therapy also teaches members coping skills to manage these challenges.

Social Skills Training

Most veterans develop issues socializing or behaving appropriately in social settings due to extended deployments. Some never had the chance to learn healthy social etiquette that allows them to function correctly in this setting. Social skills training and support groups will help them build confidence and learn practical, vital social skills.


Other therapy programs typically offered to veterans are dialectical behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy, and motivational therapy.

Pacific Palms Blog Offers Therapy Services to Veterans

Veterans seeking treatment for substance addiction are provided with VA health care programs, but some require specialized care. This is where Pacific Palms Center comes in. At Pacific Palms, we offer therapy programs for veterans mental health. We understand the challenges veterans face after retirement, which makes us capable of bettering their lives through our comprehensive treatment programs. 

Supporting veterans in their recovery journey needs a compassionate approach to foster recovery, and that’s where our team thrives. We create an enabling environment for veterans to share their struggles while we provide critical support and resources to address these struggles. With the right therapy, veterans can overcome their demons and any other underlying mental health disorder that may affect their usual functioning. Contact us today to learn more about available therapy options for veterans.