Veterans Coping With Addiction: Information and Support Resources
Oar Health Editorial Team
Oct 19, 2022
In This Article
Addiction is a common experience for many people who have dedicated part of their life to military service. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is particularly common among veterans. A 2016 study of more than 3,000 veterans found that over 42% of veterans will experience AUD at some point in their lives (1).
You are not alone in your journey toward recovery.
Because so many veterans struggle with addiction, there are significant and empowering resources at your disposal.
In addition to a number of medication options and home remedies to curb alcohol cravings that are available to anyone, let’s take a look at some of the information and support specifically for veterans.
Consider the following essential resources in the fight against AUD:
The VA is one of the most comprehensive sources of AUD support for veterans. The organization provides a range of inpatient and outpatient counseling and therapy for eligible veterans.
You can get more information about AUD treatment from the VA website, or by calling the general VA information hotline at 800-827-1000.
Talking with others who understand your perspective can be incredibly helpful. Make the Connection is a program by veterans, for veterans to overcome AUD. The website offers videos, stories, and podcasts of veterans sharing their stories of AUD and their recovery process. You can also get symptom information and links to other useful resources.
The NIAAA is a reliable and scientifically credible source of data about AUD and its treatment options.
If you’re uncertain about new medications and research or the effects of alcohol on your health, the NIAAA provides an authoritative perspective. They also offer a treatment locator to help you find the most relevant treatment in your area.
Sometimes it may not be convenient to get treatment from the VA or an inpatient facility. Oar’s online naltrexone treatment program gives you access to Food and Drug Administration-approved medication to reduce cravings. A physician consultation and treatment app to help you track your progress is also included.
One of the key steps toward quitting alcohol for many people is finding a community of peers for both support and social interactions.
AA is a support group built around a 12-step program to recovery. The organization also offers a resource with stories about veterans who have used the program.
Moderation Management is created for people who want to reduce their drinking to moderate levels. Their website gives you guidelines on the concept of moderation and how to achieve it.
Like AA, Moderation Management offers meetings in the community, but they also provide online peer support through forums, chat rooms, and private social media communities.
These resources can help veterans manage substance use disorders:
Drug misuse—whether prescription or otherwise—plays a role in many veterans’ lives. The VA provides a variety of resources to eligible veterans to help manage addiction. This can include access to medication-assisted treatments like methadone and buprenorphine, self-help groups, and residential care.
Even if you don’t usually get VA benefits, you may still be able to get care if you served in a combat zone.
The VA website can help you find your nearest VA SUD Program.
Coping with SUD is difficult. Sometimes, crises may arise that need immediate attention.
The Veterans Crisis Line connects you to caring and qualified VA responders who can simply talk to you or connect you to other resources free of charge. If you don’t feel like talking on the phone, you can use their online chat option.
Call 800-273-8255 (press 1), text 838255, or visit the VA online chat page to get support now.
SAMHSA is a U.S. government-funded agency that provides information and support not just to those living with the challenges of SUD, but also to their families.
SAMHSA offers a treatment and helpline location service. Their national helpline can direct you to referrals and information 365 days a year. The agency also produces publications to help family members better understand how to help and support a loved one with SUD.
SAMHSA’s Treatment Finder is available at FindTreatment.gov. Information on the national chat line is available on the SAMHSA website, or you can call 800-662-HELP (4357). A dedicated web page for family resources is also available.
The Tactical Recovery program is a detoxification and recovery service for veterans and their families.
Approved to accept VA benefits, it’s a comprehensive service that includes rehab treatment, trauma therapy, recreation programs, family education, and aftercare support.
For more information, head to the Tactical Recovery website, or call 888-430-4730 at any time — it’s available 24/7.
If you’re seeking to cut back or quit smoking, these resources can help:
Smoking is a common method to handle stress and pressure for many veterans— around 30% of veterans use some form of tobacco product (4). As a result, the VA offers a tobacco cessation program to help address nicotine addiction. Oar health also offers a program to quit smoking through doctor recommended treatment.
You can access medication, counseling, and workbooks on quitting at VA centers across the country.
While you may not need inpatient rehab for nicotine addiction, sometimes access to immediate support is still needed.
Quit VET is a helpline operated by the VA that provides counseling, guidance, and information. Whether this is your first time quitting smoking or you’re experiencing a relapse, you can get help.
Call 855-QUIT-VET (855-784-8838) between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
The National Cancer Institute is a valuable resource when it comes to credible information surrounding nicotine addiction and withdrawal.
Their SmokefreeVET initiative provides information and tools to help veterans become tobacco-free in a healthy and manageable way. They offer a veteran text-support line, guidance on building a quit plan, and information about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) resources.
You can visit the SmokefreeVET website or text “VET” to 47848.
The Stay Quit Coach app provides ongoing advice and support to veterans using a range of methods. The app offers an integrated care manual of alternatives for veterans who smoke to cope with PTSD, including breathing exercises, motivational messages, and access to other resources.
Since the app was developed by the National Center for PTSD, it is backed by research that effectively helps address veterans’ relationship with nicotine addiction.
If you’ve retired from the military and are eligible for TRICARE insurance, you may be eligible to use TRICARE tobacco cessation services.
This program gives access to counseling from TRICARE-authorized providers across the United States. It also covers the full cost of prescription and over-the-counter treatments to help you quit smoking.
No matter what type of addiction you may have, the resources below can help:
Some female service members may have experiences with addiction, mental health, and military service that require support from experts with a female perspective.
Call them at 855-829-6636 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturdays.
Your family and friends can play a key role in addiction treatment and support. While you may be familiar with the steps you need to take to stop drinking and the signs of addiction, your loved ones may not be as well-versed.
Coaching Into Care provides family members, friends, and fellow veterans with training and guidance on communication methods, symptom awareness, the available resources, and more.
Call 888-823-7458 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or email CoachingIntoCare@va.gov.
Drug and alcohol use can affect your health. It can affect your kids’ well-being, too.
The Eluna Network helps parents provide support to their children through recommended educational resources, access to camps and activities, and even care packages.
There may be no easy solutions to overcoming addiction, but you can get through it. And you don’t have to do it alone: A range of services are available to help you on your recovery journey.
By using the resources at your disposal, you can empower yourself to cope with and overcome both addiction and the aftereffects of war.
About The Author
Oar is a telemedicine platform that makes science-backed, medication-assisted addiction treatment approachable and accessible for millions of consumers who feel excluded by the current treatment landscape and who may have a wide range of goals, from moderation to abstinence.