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Exploring the Intersection of
PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

Learn more about the connection between PTSD and addiction in veterans at New Choices Recovery Center.

Content

PTSD and Addiction in Veterans: Introduction

For the brave men and women who have served our country, the battles they face often extend far beyond the frontlines. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD) are two of the most significant challenges that veterans encounter upon returning home.
San Antonio is a city with a deep connection to the military. There are over 250,000 veterans and 80,000 active-duty personnel calling it home. New Choices Treatment Center (NCTC) understands the importance of addressing the specific needs of this population.
We are committed to addressing PTSD and addiction in veterans and helping them to reclaim their lives.
PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

The Complex Relationship Between PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

Trauma and substance use are intricately linked. Many veterans turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with the emotional and psychological wounds of their service.
Studies show that veterans with PTSD are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop a substance use disorder compared to those without PTSD.1
The overlapping symptoms of PTSD and addiction in veterans can have a profound impact on:
  • Mental health
  • Daily functioning
  • Quality of life

Prevalence of PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

The prevalence of co-occurring PTSD and addiction in veterans is staggering:
  • Approximately 20% of veterans with PTSD also have a substance use disorder.2
  • Among veterans seeking treatment for SUD, roughly 1 in 3 also meet the criteria for PTSD.
  • In a study of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, 55-75% of those diagnosed with SUD also met the criteria for PTSD.3
  • Veterans with co-occurring disorders often face more severe symptoms, poorer treatment outcomes, and a higher risk of suicide compared to those with only one disorder.4
Recognizing the importance of addressing underlying trauma is crucial in the addiction recovery process for veterans. By treating trauma as a core component of recovery, veterans can begin to heal the emotional scars that often fuel their substance use.

Treatment Approaches for PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

At New Choices Treatment Center, we understand the complex challenges of treating PTSD and addiction in veterans. The trauma endured during military service, combined with the difficulties of transitioning back to civilian life, can create a perfect storm for the development of these debilitating conditions.
We recognize that the path to recovery is not a one-size-fits-all journey. That’s why we employ a range of evidence-based therapies and integrated treatment models to effectively address the unique needs of each veteran we serve.
Some of the key evidence-based therapies and treatment models we employ include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a powerful tool for helping identify and change the negative thought patterns and behaviors that perpetuate PTSD and addiction in veterans.
By developing healthier coping strategies and challenging distorted beliefs, veterans can gain greater control over their symptoms and maintain long-term sobriety.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is particularly effective for veterans struggling with intense emotions, impulsivity, and interpersonal conflicts.
The goal is to develop core skills like:
  1. Mindfulness
  2. Emotion regulation
  3. Distress tolerance
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness
Through DBT, veterans can learn to navigate the challenges of recovery with greater resilience and self-awareness.

Trauma-Informed Care

At the heart of our approach is a deep commitment to trauma-informed care. We recognize that trauma is not just a single event, but a life-altering experience that shapes every aspect of a person’s being.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

We also recognize the value of MAT as an important tool in the recovery process.
By combining FDA-approved medications with counseling and behavioral therapies, we can help veterans:
  • Manage PTSD symptoms
  • Reduce substance cravings
  • Address co-occurring mental health disorders in a comprehensive, evidence-based manner

Active in Recovery (AIR)

Our AIR program is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of veterans in recovery. This innovative approach combines intense physical exercise with evidence-based therapies to:
  • Promote neuroregeneration and reduce substance dependence
  • Improve stress management skills and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Enhance cognition, social engagement, and self-esteem
By blending proven mental health therapies with physical movement in a supportive community setting, AIR empowers veterans to build resilience and harness their inherent capacity for recovery from addiction and PTSD.

Specialized Dual Diagnosis Programs for PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

In addition to these core therapies, we offer specialized dual diagnosis programs that address PTSD and substance use disorders at the same time.
These programs are designed to help veterans:
  • Understand the complex interplay between their mental health and substance use
  • Develop an integrated plan for recovery that encompasses both dimensions of their struggle
At NCTC, creating a safe, supportive environment that promotes trust, empowerment, and collaboration is a top priority. We strive to help veterans feel understood, validated, and empowered to take an active role in their own healing process.

The Role of Support Networks in Treatment for PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

In addition to clinical interventions, New Choices Treatment Center recognizes the value of support in the recovery process for PTSD and addiction in veterans.

Peer Support

Peer support and camaraderie are essential elements of our program. They foster a sense of:
  • Connection
  • Understanding
  • Shared experience 
Through veteran-specific support groups and activities, our clients can build a network of support that extends beyond their time in treatment.

Family Involvement in Treatment for PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

Family involvement and education are also crucial aspects of our approach. We understand that PTSD and addiction in veterans affect not only the individual but also their loved ones.
We aim to create a strong foundation for long-term recovery and healing by:
  • Engaging families in the recovery process
  • Providing education on PTSD and addiction in veterans
  • Offering support for family members

Life Skills Training

Life skills training is another key component of treating PTSD and addiction in veterans. We equip our clients with:
  • Essential coping skills
  • Stress management techniques
  • Healthy lifestyle habits to support ongoing recovery and successful reintegration into civilian life. 
Some of the critical life skills we focus on include:

Effective Communication

We teach veterans how to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs clearly and assertively. This includes:
  • Active listening
  • Using “I” statements
  • Practicing empathy in their interactions with others
By improving communication skills, veterans can build stronger relationships and navigate challenging situations more effectively.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict is a natural part of life. But, it can be particularly challenging for veterans struggling with PTSD and addiction.
We help our clients develop strategies for managing and resolving conflicts in a healthy, productive manner. This includes:
  • Learning to identify triggers
  • Practicing de-escalation techniques
  • Finding win-win solutions whenever possible

Time Management

Balancing the demands of daily life can be overwhelming, especially for veterans in recovery. We teach our clients how to:
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Set realistic goals
  • Create a structured routine that supports their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being
By developing effective time management skills, veterans can reduce stress, increase productivity, and maintain a sense of control over their lives.

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Financial stress can be a significant trigger for relapse. We help our clients develop practical money management skills.
This includes:
  • Creating a budget
  • Tracking expenses
  • Setting financial goals
  • Exploring strategies for saving and investing
By empowering veterans to take control of their finances, we help them build a more stable and secure future.

Building Healthy Relationships

Supportive, positive relationships are crucial for long-term recovery. We teach veterans how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries, communicate effectively with loved ones, and build a strong support network.
This includes:
  • Learning to identify and avoid toxic relationships
  • Practicing forgiveness and letting go of resentments
  • Cultivating a sense of connection and belonging

Self-Care and Stress Reduction Techniques

Taking care of oneself is essential for maintaining physical, emotional, and mental health in recovery.
We introduce veterans to a variety of self-care practices and stress reduction techniques, such as:
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Journaling
  • Engaging in enjoyable hobbies
By incorporating these practices into their daily lives, veterans can better manage stress, regulate their emotions, and promote well-being.

Importance of Teaching Life Skills in Treatment for PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

At New Choices Treatment Center, we believe that by equipping veterans with these essential life skills, we are not only supporting their recovery from PTSD and addiction but also helping them build a strong foundation for a fulfilling, purposeful life beyond treatment.
Our compassionate, experienced staff is dedicated to walking alongside each veteran on their journey, providing the guidance, support, and tools they need to thrive in their post-service lives.
PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

Our Approach to Supporting PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

At New Choices Treatment Center, we are committed to providing veteran-centered care. We aim to recognize and address the unique experiences and challenges faced by those who have served our country.
Many of our addiction medicine specialists are veterans themselves. This allows them to relate to and understand the concerns of our clients on a personal level.

A Safe and Supportive Treatment Environment

We prioritize creating a safe, supportive, and empathetic environment. This environment acknowledges the impact of trauma on our veterans’ lives.
Our trauma-informed approach ensures every aspect of our program, from the physical space to staff interactions, is designed to promote a sense of safety and trust.
Our commitment to supporting veterans extends beyond our clinical offerings. We understand that the journey to recovery is a holistic one, encompassing:
  • Physical and mental health
  • Spiritual wellness 
  • Social growth
  • Emotional well-being

Active Collaborations in Treatment for PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

To enhance access to care and support for veterans, we actively collaborate with:
  • Veteran service organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Community resources
These partnerships allow us to provide a comprehensive network of services and resources to our clients. This ensures that they have the tools and support they need to succeed in their recovery and reintegration into civilian life.
Some of the key services and resources we offer through our partnerships include:

Housing Assistance

We understand that stable, safe housing is essential for veterans in recovery. Our team works closely with local housing agencies and veteran-specific housing programs to help our clients secure affordable, supportive living arrangements that promote their ongoing recovery and independence.

Employment Services

Finding meaningful employment can be a significant challenge for veterans struggling with PTSD and addiction.
We collaborate with local employers, job training programs, and veteran employment services to help our clients develop the skills, confidence, and opportunities they need to succeed in the workforce. This includes:
  • Resume-building workshops
  • Job search assistance
  • Ongoing support as they navigate the challenges of the workplace

Legal Support

Many veterans face legal issues related to their substance use or mental health struggles.
We partner with veteran legal aid organizations and pro bono legal services to ensure that our clients have access to the legal guidance and representation they need to resolve outstanding issues and move forward with their lives.

Educational Opportunities

Education can be a powerful tool for personal growth, self-discovery, and career advancement.
We work with local colleges, universities, and vocational training programs to help our veterans explore and pursue educational opportunities that align with their interests, skills, and goals.
This includes:
  • Assistance with applications
  • Financial aid
  • Academic support services

Peer Support Networks

Connecting with other veterans who have faced similar challenges can be incredibly powerful in the recovery process.
We collaborate with veteran peer support organizations, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, to help our clients build a strong network of support and camaraderie that extends beyond their time in treatment.

Importance of Comprehensive Care for Treating PTSD and Addiction in Veterans

At New Choices Treatment Center, we believe that by providing this comprehensive network of services and resources, we are not only supporting our veterans in their recovery from PTSD and addiction but also empowering them to build fulfilling, purposeful lives in their communities.
Our dedicated staff is committed to walking alongside each veteran, connecting them with the resources and support they need to thrive in their post-service journey.

Honoring Service and Sacrifice: The Path to Recovery

At New Choices Treatment Center, we recognize the immense courage and resilience of the veterans we serve as they navigate the challenging path to recovery from PTSD and addiction.
We are committed to walking alongside them every step of the way, providing the specialized care, support, and resources they need to reclaim their lives and thrive in their post-service journey.

Contact New Choices Treatment Center Today

If you or a loved one is a veteran struggling with PTSD and addiction, know that you are not alone. Reach out to New Choices Treatment Center today at (726) 888-7003 to learn more about our veteran-specific programs and how we can support you on your path to healing and recovery.
Together, we can honor your service and sacrifice by helping you build a brighter, healthier future.