October 13, 2016, by Dixie Somers – According to a study referenced in a recent US News article, 77 percent of 500 veterans who wound up using heroin transitioned to it after taking prescription painkillers. None of the participants had a history of substance abuse before the study. This dependence on painkillers after military service is not unusual among VA centers today. If your loved one returned from the military with a dependence on painkillers, it’s important to help him or her overcome it so that they do not end up suffering damages or using harder drugs. The best way to overcome a painkiller addiction and avoid future abuse is to treat the issue holistically. Address the root of the pain on a physical and emotional level by following the steps below.
1. Offer Alternative Pain Treatments
For surgical recovery or short-term issues, opioids can help. However, when a doctor recommends painkillers for your loved one on a long-term basis, ask what else is available. Military health coverage includes many other services such as hypnosis, biofeedback and more. According to Dr. Lynn Webster, almost 45 percent of people who return from combat deployments wind up with chronic pain.
2. Seek Mental Health Therapy
Treating the issue of emotional pain is equally important as treating physical pain. Talk therapy is good for troubling memories, nightmares and concerns about transitioning into civilian life. For traumatic experiences that affect behavior, cognitive behavior therapy and hypnosis can help. These therapies identify and treat the root of the problem.
3. Find a Veteran Support Group
Group therapy can also help for transitioning into civilian life and dealing with chronic pain or depression. Find a veteran support group for your loved one and attend it with them as a source of familiar support. Having the emotional support from both you and a group of people who are going through the same issues and have had similar experiences can help immensely.
4. Seek Addiction Treatment
If painkillers have become an overwhelming problem, addiction treatment facilities can help your loved one. Doctors often order treatment if veterans speak up and tell them about an addiction, so encourage your loved one to seek help if they recognize their problem. Treatment facilities help veterans find ways to manage their physical pain and reduce their emotional distress. Being in a facility and learning how to manage these issues will also make it much easier to overcome the challenges of transitioning into civilian life.
Although active duty leaves its physical and emotional scars, repeated painkiller abuse is a preventable one. Men face a higher risk of painkiller abuse, and using stimulants also increases the risk. If painkillers are becoming problematic for your loved one, be proactive in seeking help for addiction treatment and alternative pain solutions. Above all, show empathy for your loved one during their dependence. Let them choose the therapies they feel comfortable with and work on maintaining a stable environment from them throughout the process.
AUTHOR BIO: This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, careers, and education. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Dixie got information for this piece from a center that offers drug rehab in California.