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Friday, November 8, 2019

Co-Occurring PTSD and SUD Affects Veterans

Veterans Day is this coming Monday. For some people, the holiday means a three-day weekend, but for others, it is an essential federal holiday in honor of all those who have served in the United States armed forces. There is another facet of the observance that is also important to talk about: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD) among veterans.

While PTSD is most closely associated with individuals who have seen combat, it is a mental health condition that can disrupt the lives of civilians as well. Trauma comes in many forms; one does not need to go to a warzone to experience a significant traumatic event.

Civilians aside, it’s vital to discuss veterans and those still on active duty who struggle with PTSD and co-occurring addiction. Both diseases affect far more individuals than you might think. The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs tracks data on the disorders at the National Center for PTSD.

In this post, we would like to raise awareness about both conditions and encourage those who struggle with any mental illness to seek support. At The Haven, we know that treatment works, and recovery is possible for men and women who have PTSD, SUD, or both.

How Common Is Co-occurring PTSD and SUD in Veterans?

One national epidemiologic study found that 46.4% of individuals with lifetime PTSD also met criteria for SUD, according to the American Journal of Addiction. An older study found that 27.9% of women and 51.9% of men with lifetime PTSD also had SUD, according to the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The National Center for PTSD reports that a majority of veterans with PTSD have met criteria for co-morbid substance use at some point. The center adds that more than 2 of 10 veterans with PTSD also have SUD. What’s more, almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD. The VA notes that:

“Individuals who have both disorders have poorer treatment outcomes, more additional psychiatric problems, and more functional problems across multiple domains, including medical, legal, financial, and social, than those with just one disorder.”

People who misuse drugs and alcohol are at higher risk of developing PTSD; and, veterans regularly use drugs and alcohol to cope with PTSD symptoms. Those in the latter camp place themselves at high risk of developing co-occurring SUD.

While men and women with comorbidity tend to have a harder time healing, treatment centers that target both conditions simultaneously can help bring about long-term recovery. The Haven at Pismo specializes in co-occurring disorder treatment that addresses both illnesses in one recovery program.

SLO County Evidence-Based Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

Those who still feel the invisible scars of combat and struggle with drugs and alcohol are invited to contact The Haven. You will be pleased to learn that our licensed clinical psychologist and clinical director worked for the Department of Defense/Naval Medical Center San Diego for over eight years as a staff clinical psychologist.

Aleksandra Marinovic, Psy.D., has a vast range of experience treating active duty service members with a wide range of psychological diagnoses and substance use issues, using evidence-based treatment. Dr. Marinovic has received excellent theoretical and practical training over the years in the field in a variety of settings and modalities. She has extensive experience with a range of mental health issues and addiction, including mood and anxiety disorders, military and non-military trauma/PTSD, and other chronic mental illnesses.

In honor of the millions of men and women who have served, The Haven at Pismo would like to extend our utmost gratitude for their sacrifices. We are here to help any veterans in need of assistance.