On May 31, 2023

Help for veterans who struggle with substance abuse


By Veronica Raussin

Editor’s note: Veronica Raussin is the community outreach coordinator for Addicted.org.

On Memorial Day, millions of American families took  time to honor the memory of those who lost their lives fighting in one of the nation’s wars. It can be challenging for families who recently lost a loved one. 

We must also never forget the veterans who lost their lives after making it home because of addiction, drug overdose, or suicide. 

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 3.9 million veterans nationally have a substance use disorder or mental illness.  Substance use disorder significantly increases suicidality among veterans ages 18 and older. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are also common among veterans ages 18 to 49.

“Early intervention saves lives, but it can be challenging for families to know where to seek help or how to access treatment,” said Michael Leach of Addicted.org.  

Numerous causative factors lead to substance use disorders among veterans. For instance, many vets struggle to adjust to civilian life. They may experience financial hardships, difficulty finding employment, or accessing benefits.
Many other veterans struggle with mental and emotional health problems. This can often be compounded with physical pain or chronic injury leading to pain medication use. Untreated trauma, for example, increases rates of drug use to cope with unwanted feelings. 

There can also be barriers to treatment, such as cost and gaps in health insurance. Stigma regarding addiction is still prominent. Veterans in rural areas have limited access to treatment. Communities may not have enough funding for more support options. 

Besides the usual support provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the VA facility locator, other support options may include:

Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs provides support for veterans and their families;

ThinkVermont offers various services and support for veterans, such as job transition assistance;

Pathways Vermont provides supportive services for veterans’ families;

Helpful hotlines include the Veteran Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255, and the Lifeline for Vets, 1-888-777-4443;

SAMHSA has a treatment facility locator where veterans can find specific help for addiction in Vermont.

Families also play a critical role in helping their loved ones addicted to drugs. It’s ok to express concern about their drug and alcohol use. Speak to them openly and honestly about their substance use. Help them find treatment.  

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

A public education Vermonters support and value

May 22, 2024
By Margaret MacLean Editor’s note: Margaret MacLean, from Peacham, has been an educator for 50 years, working as a teacher, school principal and consultant both in Vermont, the U.S. and internationally. Over the past 14 years Vermont has enacted three sweeping school district consolidation laws. The overarching goals of Act 153, Act 156, and Act…

Vermont’s lost submarine memorial

May 22, 2024
Dear Editor, At the Veteran Administration (VA) in White River Jct, VT, there is a distinct memorial dedicated to the Submarine USS Flier (SS 250) lost during World War II.  Ever mindful of our lost shipmates, friends and family that have served in the submarine service of our country, the U.S. Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI)…

H.121 poses significant risk to Vermont’s business community

May 22, 2024
Dear Editor, As the CEO of the Vermont Country Store (VCS), I strongly support consumer privacy as does the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and many peer companies in the state. I wholeheartedly endorse the Connecticut law that was the foundation of H.121. However, as passed it is my hope that Governor Scott will veto H.121.…

Vermont’s outsize appetite for taxes

May 22, 2024
Dear Editor, Most Vermont taxpayers have just experienced a period of tax focus, specifically property taxes to support our public schools. Some communities are still going through the valuable public debate about property taxes and, more generally, the overall tax burden and trying to evaluate that relative to what we receive for our tax dollars.…