June 17, 2016, by Jerry Nelson – Many service members, both men and women, struggle with addiction. Some vets may have co-occurring disorders: depression or PTSD. Finding the right addiction rehab for your specific needs can seem daunting.
If a veteran you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, there is help. Many VA Hospitals have treatment programs – but not all. And face it, not every one lives close to a VA facility.
So what is a vet to do if they are struggling against addiction?
There are several thousand addiction treatment programs in America. Regardless of the cost, the type of treatment provided, follow-up care and 101 other things to consider, finding the “right” program for you can be challenging – if not downright impossible.
Sites like PsychologyToday provide an extensive database which can be searched by zip code, fees and modalities.
But even with that as an aid, a person could still end up with dozens of choices from which to pick. Just how can a person determine the best program that will fit their work schedule, pocketbook and family needs?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests some questions to ask before deciding on a program; it’s that easy.
Different programs produce different results based on different expectations. Some consider success to be an individual who continues to attend meetings. Others believe that someone completing a 28-day inpatient program to be a success. You must decide which result is acceptable before choosing a program. The choice will be a guide through the selection.
Short-Term or Long-Term
The most frequent type of curriculum is a 28-day program. This often does not give persons the time they need to move completely into sobriety; it is a stepping stone. Addiction is complicated, and people need help longer than four weeks to being stable in sobriety.
Does the program exchange one pill for another? Hundreds of programs provide methadone or buprenorphine to the individual recovering from addiction. These types of programs are called harm reduction programs. The goal is not to create sobriety, but instead, reduce impairment which can be produced by illegal drug abuse.
Treatment Rely on Other Drugs?
Does the program’s treatment rest on the use of other pills that may be addictive themselves? Many programs with a pharmaceutical bent may rely on benzodiazepine-class drugs to alleviate symptoms. Reliance on medicines as part of treatment may result in an addiction to those new medicines. Some other programs will provide an alcoholic a medication like Antabuse. However, the potential side effects of Antabuse are severe and can be fatal.
Alleviate Physical Cravings?
Does the program you choose have a way to deal with physical cravings? When an individual is in recovery, they may struggle daily with cravings which can be severe. Most rehab programs don’t have a way to alleviate the cravings and instead rely on prescription medicines to suppress the cravings. When a program has a detoxification unit which can relieve cravings, someone in recovery has a better ability to focus on sober living skills.
Is There a Nutritional Component?
Often, when someone gets into a rehab program, they are in a very poor state of health. A quality addiction program will include nutritional support. Without correcting nutritional deficiencies, symptoms can include sleeplessness, depression and a lack of energy. These issues could lead to additional abuse of medicines like sleep aids or antidepressants; when nutrition would make for a healthier alternative.
Regardless of how good a program is, when a person leaves they will be nailed by the problems and influences that helped lead them to addiction to begin with. Old drug-using friends – and suppliers – will come around; a setback could happen. During heavy drug abuse, addicts develop destructive patterns of thinking. Senses of morality are damaged the addicted learns to hide physical and emotional abuse. Without training in life skills, a person can re-engage the addictive patterns and not gain the ability to act responsibly.
Only you can judge if the answers to these questions make a particular rehab program acceptable. Once you have reached the decision to enter treatment, family, friends and medical professionals can all help to guide you as well.
Author Bio: Jerry Nelson, a Vietnam Veteran, is an American writer and photojournalist and is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the million-or-so who follow him on Twitter @Journey_America.