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Substance Use Disorder Programs
for Veterans in Recovery

Explore the benefits of substance use disorder programs for veterans at New Choices Treatment Center.


We’re Here to Help You Heal

New Choices Treatment Center, located in the heart of San Antonio, Texas, is dedicated to providing comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals struggling with substance use disorders (SUD).
With a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by veterans, New Choices Treatment Center (NCTC) recognizes the importance of substance use disorder programs for veterans in promoting recovery and wellness.
Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans: Understanding the Unique Needs of Veterans

Veterans face distinct challenges when it comes to substance use disorders. The experiences and traumas endured during military service can have a profound impact on their mental health and coping mechanisms.
These challenges include:

Combat Trauma and PTSD

Deployment experiences and traumatic events can significantly contribute to substance use among veterans. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that up to 29% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.1
These mental health conditions often co-occur with substance use disorders, as veterans may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with the emotional and psychological pain.
One recent survey found that over 1 million veterans in the United States live with co-occuring mental health and SUD issues.2

Military Culture and Identity

of strength, resilience, and self-reliance instilled during military service may make it challenging for veterans to seek help for SUD.3
The camaraderie and shared experiences among service members can also normalize or encourage substance use as a way to bond or cope with the stresses of military life.

Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders in Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

Veterans with SUD often struggle with co-occurring mental health conditions, such as:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms may include:
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Severe anxiety
  • Uncontrollable thoughts about the event
Veterans with PTSD may turn to substances as a way to cope with their symptoms.


Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of:
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
Veterans with depression may use substances to numb their emotions or temporarily escape their negative thoughts.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder, involve:
  • Excessive worry and fear
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
Substance use may be a way for veterans to self-medicate and alleviate their anxiety symptoms.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBI is a disruption in brain function caused by a blow, jolt, or penetrating head injury. Veterans with TBI may experience cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes that increase their risk of substance abuse. Substances may be used to cope with the challenges and frustrations associated with TBI.
A comparative study on soldiers returning from Iraq reported as many as 43.9% of soldiers with TBI also meet criteria for PTSD.4
Additional surveys have shown that in military populations, SUDs, TBI, and PTSD often occur at the same time.5

Importance of Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

The co-occurrence of these conditions can complicate recovery efforts. It requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both the substance use disorder and the underlying mental health concerns.
Addressing these co-occurring disorders is crucial for successful recovery and overall well-being. Substance use disorder programs for veterans must incorporate integrated treatment approaches that simultaneously target substance use and mental health conditions.
NCTC provides evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and trauma-focused interventions, alongside SUD treatment. This allows veterans to develop the skills and strategies needed to manage their co-occurring disorders and maintain long-term recovery.

Trauma-Informed Care in Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

Effective substance use disorder programs for veterans must incorporate specific components that address their unique needs and experiences.
These include:

Trauma-Informed Care

Integrating trauma-informed approaches and therapeutic modalities into substance use disorder programs for veterans is essential. Trauma-informed care recognizes the pervasive impact of trauma and seeks to create a safe, supportive environment.
Key elements of trauma-informed care include:

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Trauma

Staff members in substance use disorder programs for veterans must be trained to identify the various manifestations of trauma, such as:
  • Hypervigilance
  • Emotional numbness
  • Avoidance behaviors
By recognizing these signs, treatment providers can better understand and respond to the unique needs of veterans.

Responding with Empathy and Understanding

Trauma-informed care emphasizes the importance of empathetic and non-judgmental communication.
At NCTC, our knowledgeable and compassionate team will:
  • Validate veterans’ experiences
  • Acknowledge their strengths
  • Create a safe space for them to process their emotions
This approach helps build trust and fosters a therapeutic alliance between veterans and their treatment team.

Avoiding Retraumatization

Treatment providers must be mindful of potential triggers and stressors that may re-traumatize veterans.
This includes:6
  • Creating a physically and emotionally safe environment
  • Respecting veterans’ boundaries
  • Allowing them to have control over their treatment decisions
By minimizing the risk of re-traumatization, veterans can feel more secure and engaged in their recovery process.7

Empowering Veterans to Take an Active Role in Their Recovery

Trauma-informed care recognizes the importance of empowerment and collaboration. Veterans should be actively involved in:
  • Developing their treatment plans
  • Setting goals
  • Making decisions about their care
This approach helps veterans regain a sense of control and agency, which is often compromised by trauma and substance use.

Therapeutic Approaches in Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

Therapeutic modalities such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and cognitive processing therapy (CPT) can be particularly effective in addressing trauma and substance use at the same time.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a psychotherapy treatment that helps people process traumatic memories and reduce their emotional impact. During EMDR sessions, veterans focus on a traumatic memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or tapping.
This process helps the brain reprocess the traumatic experience, leading to a reduction in distress and the development of more adaptive coping mechanisms.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

CPT is a cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps veterans identify and challenge distorted thoughts related to their traumatic experiences. Through structured sessions, veterans learn to recognize the connection between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
By modifying unhelpful thought patterns and developing healthier coping strategies, veterans can reduce the impact of trauma on their lives and maintain their recovery from substance use disorders.

Importance of Evidence-Based Approaches in Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

At New Choices Treatment Center, we understand the critical role of evidence-based methods in treating veterans with SUD. Our staff is trained in military cultural competence and employs evidence-based therapies like EMDR and CPT to address the unique needs of our veteran clients.
By creating a safe, supportive environment and empowering veterans to take an active role in their recovery, we help them build the resilience and skills needed to overcome trauma and substance use challenges.

Peer Support and Mentorship in Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

Establishing peer support networks and veteran-specific support groups fosters a sense of connection and camaraderie among veterans in recovery.
In substance use disorder programs for veterans, peer support and mentorship provide:

Shared Understanding and Experiences

Peer support groups bring together veterans who have faced similar challenges, including:
  • Combat exposure
  • Military sexual trauma
  • The difficulties of transitioning back to civilian life
By connecting with others who have walked the same path, veterans can find validation, empathy, and a sense of belonging.

Benefits of Connecting with Others

Sharing their experiences in a safe and supportive environment can help veterans:
  • Process their emotions
  • Reduce feelings of isolation
  • Gain valuable insights from those who have successfully navigated the recovery journey

Encouragement and Accountability

Peer support and mentorship programs offer a network of encouragement and accountability.
Veterans in recovery can:
  • Lean on their peers for support during difficult times
  • Celebrate milestones and successes together
  • Hold each other accountable for maintaining their sobriety
Having a strong support system can be especially crucial during the early stages of recovery when the risk of relapse is highest. Regularly attending peer support meetings and engaging with mentors can help veterans stay motivated, focused, and committed to their recovery goals.

Role Models for Successful Recovery

Mentorship programs pair veterans in early recovery with those who have achieved long-term sobriety. These mentors serve as role models, demonstrating that sustained recovery is possible and providing guidance on how to navigate the challenges of maintaining sobriety.
By sharing their own experiences, coping strategies, and life skills, mentors can inspire hope and offer practical advice to veterans who are just beginning their recovery journey.
These relationships can be incredibly valuable, as they provide veterans with a roadmap for success and a living example of what life in recovery can look like.

Opportunities for Leadership and Giving Back

As veterans progress in their recovery, peer support and mentorship programs offer opportunities for leadership and service. Many veterans find a sense of purpose and fulfillment in giving back to the community that has supported them.
By becoming peer leaders or mentors themselves, veterans can use their experiences to help others who are struggling with substance use disorders. This not only strengthens their own recovery but also allows them to make a positive impact on the lives of fellow veterans.
Engaging in leadership roles and service activities can help veterans:
  • Build self-esteem
  • Develop new skills
  • Find meaning in their recovery journey

Additional Peer Support Options in Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer veteran-specific meetings and support groups, creating a safe space for veterans to share their struggles and successes.
These groups often follow a 12-Step model, which emphasizes:
  • Personal responsibility
  • Spiritual growth
  • The importance of helping others in recovery
By attending veteran-specific meetings, veterans can connect with others who understand the unique challenges of military service and can relate to their experiences on a deeper level.

Embracing the Power of Support in NCTC’s Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

At New Choices Treatment Center, we recognize the power of peer support and mentorship in the recovery process. Our program incorporates veteran-specific support groups and connects clients with mentors who have successfully navigated the challenges of recovery.
By fostering a strong sense of community and providing opportunities for leadership and service, we aim to empower veterans to build a solid foundation for long-term recovery and a fulfilling life beyond substance use.

Treatment Modalities and Approaches in Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

Substance use disorder programs for veterans use a range of evidence-based therapies and holistic support services to address the complex needs of veterans.

Evidence-Based Therapies

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are widely used in treating SUD and co-occurring disorders among veterans.
These therapies help veterans:
  • Identify and challenge negative thought patterns
  • Develop coping skills and emotional regulation strategies
  • Improve interpersonal relationships and communication
  • Prevent relapse and maintain long-term recovery
For instance, a study published in Cognitive Therapy and Research found that CBT significantly reduced substance use and PTSD symptoms among veterans.8

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT involves the use of medications, such as buprenorphine or naltrexone, in combination with behavioral therapies to treat SUD.
MAT can:
  • Reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Improve treatment retention and outcomes
  • Address co-occurring mental health conditions
In recent years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has expanded access to MAT, recognizing its effectiveness in treating opioid use disorder among veterans.9

Holistic Support Services

Comprehensive care that addresses the physical, emotional, and social needs of veterans is essential for successful recovery.
Holistic support services may include:
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Family therapy and support
  • Case management and care coordination
  • Vocational rehabilitation and job readiness programs
  • Nutritional support and wellness activities
By providing a wide range of support services, substance use disorder programs for veterans can address the multifaceted needs of veterans and promote long-term recovery.
Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans: Our Veteran-Centered Approach

At New Choices Treatment Center, we understand the unique challenges faced by veterans struggling with substance use disorders. Our addiction specialists, many of us veterans ourselves, can relate to your concerns and provide the compassionate care you deserve.

Tailored Treatment Plans

We offer individualized care plans that address the specific needs, experiences, and goals of each veteran in recovery.
Our treatment team works closely with clients to develop a comprehensive plan that incorporates:
  • Evidence-based therapies
  • Holistic support services
  • Veteran-specific resources
One such program is our Active in Recovery (AIR) initiative, designed specifically with the needs of veterans in mind. AIR combines intense physical exercise with evidence-based therapies to promote neuroregeneration and reduce substance dependence.
By focusing on improving stress management skills, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and enhancing cognition, social engagement, and self-esteem, AIR helps veterans build the resilience needed to overcome addiction and other mental health challenges.
This veteran-centered approach, delivered in a supportive community setting, empowers our clients to harness their inherent capacity for recovery and reclaim their lives.

Trauma-Informed Care

Creating a safe, supportive, and empathetic environment is at the core of our approach. We recognize the impact of trauma on veterans’ lives and provide trauma-informed care that promotes healing and resilience.
Our staff is trained in military cultural competence, ensuring that we understand and respond to the unique experiences of veterans.

Accessible Resources

New Choices Treatment Center is committed to connecting veterans with community resources, support groups, and services that enhance recovery and reintegration efforts.
We work closely with local veteran organizations and the VA to ensure that our clients have access to the support they need during and after treatment.

Take the First Step Toward Recovery with Our Substance Use Disorder Programs for Veterans

If you or a loved one is a veteran struggling with substance use disorder, know that you are not alone. New Choices Treatment Center is here to support you on your journey toward recovery and wellness with substance use disorder programs for veterans.
Our veteran-centered approach, evidence-based therapies, and compassionate care can help you reclaim your life and find renewed purpose.
Take the first step today by reaching out to our dedicated team. Call us at (726) 888-7003 or reach out online to learn more about our substance use disorder programs for veterans. Together, we can build a brighter future free from the grip of addiction.