“I, unfortunately, got hurt, so I couldn’t stay in [the Marines] anymore. I got my first prescription from the VA, and I remember I took that first pill, and it just kind of blew me away. You slowly start drifting away from what is normal,” said Marine veteran
,, Austin Pollard.
One of the most commonly misused substances in the United States is opioids. Military personnel and veterans are not immune to their devastating impacts. According to American Addiction Centers, veterans are twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose than civilian Americans, whether it be accidental or intentional.
Military personnel and veterans are at an increased risk when it comes to substance misuse due to a variety of factors
,, including mental health issues like pPpost- tTtraumatic sSstress dDdisorder (PTSD), trauma, homelessness and physical pain, often from an injury. A report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that two-thirds of the veteran population experience pain. This puts them at a higher risk of opioid misuse and overdose.
The same report also states that “opioid use disorders among military personnel often begin with an opioid pain prescription following an injury during deployment. However, due to the addictive nature of opioids, particularly coupled with mental health struggles experienced by some military servicemen and women, regular use of opioids can lead to addiction.”
The stigma around substance misuse deters veterans and military personnel even further from getting help due to strict anti-drug policies, lack of privacy and mandatory random drug testing. Those who may need help end up foregoing treatment and feeling that they cannot reach out for support because of this.
We have compiled a list of resources for veterans who may be experiencing opioid misuse and for families and friends looking to support their loved ones.
For those not in the state of Nevada, please visit SAMHSA Treatment Locator or call 1-800-662-HELP to locate a provider.
Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 or text 838255
The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource available to veterans, even those not registered with The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or enrolled in VA health care. This line can be used for any crisis at any time. The responders will immediately get you the necessary help.
The Real Warriors Campaign is an initiative launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) to assist in reintegrating service members, veterans and their families into society. They offer mental health and psychological assistance.
Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: call 1-877-4AID-VET
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for providing vital services to America’s veterans. VA provides health care services, benefits programs and access to national cemeteries to former military personnel and their dependents.
SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center serves as a national resource to support states, territories and local communities by helping them to address the behavioral health needs of military and veteran families.
The National Center for PTSD advances the science of post-traumatic stress disorder and the care of veterans and others impacted by trauma through research and education. They are one of the foremost trauma and PTSD research programs in the world.
If you or a loved one is in crisis, Contact Crisis Support Services of Nevada by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting CARE to 839863.