Veterans and Alcoholism Our Commitment to Treatment
At AAC, we’re committed to providing the very best care possible to our military veterans struggling with alcoholism. While veterans are welcome within any of our facilities, we offer two that specifically serve their unique needs: Desert Hope in Las Vegas, Nevada and Recovery First in Hollywood, Florida.
Through our Salute to Recovery program within these two facilities, we cater to veteran and first responder populations battling addiction and mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, loss, grief, and anxiety. Each facility offers specialized programming tailored specifically to their experiences via a 4-week cycle that utilizes various evidence-based therapeutic modalities.
Our program also welcomes current and retired first responders, including firefighters, emergency medical services providers, law enforcement officers, correctional officers/probation-parole officers, as well as dispatchers and emergency communications personnel.
Alcohol Abuse Among Veterans
Topping the list of abused substances by military personnel is alcohol, with alcoholism being the most prevalent form of substance use disorders (SUDs) among personnel.1 This may be due to the military’s zero-tolerance policy on drugs and mandatory random drug testing that might deter drug use.1 Also adding to high rates of use is the easy availability of alcohol and drinking opportunities for personnel, whether on base or on deployment.2
Veterans and first responders work in environments that expose them to intense, often traumatizing situations, which may lead to heavy alcohol use as a coping mechanism. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), compared to civilians, military service members have been shown to drink alcohol at higher rates.3
Additionally, military personnel with more exposure to combat tend to have higher rates of heavy (26.8%) and binge (54.8%) drinking than other military personnel (17% and 45%, respectively).1
Unique Programming for Veterans Struggling with Alcoholism
When you choose to seek treatment with American Addiction Centers and its facilities (regardless of location), your programming may look like the following:
Discussing Veteran Alcohol Treatment
When you call AAC, an admissions navigator will walk you through what the process looks like and discuss what is needed in order for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cover treatment. You’ll then need to call your local VA office to schedule a consultation for them to determine if they have the resources for your specific needs. Based on availability, you may be able utilize benefits with the VA to receive care for alcohol treatmentx if you don’t have insurance or another means to pay for treatment (private pay).
Once you complete the consult, it will take a few days before hearing back from the VA as to whether they’ll approve treatment for you within an AAC facility or at the VA. When you choose our inpatient rehab program, you can expect several different approaches to treatment such as:
- Medical stabilization and detoxification with medical monitoring.
- Multidisciplinary assessment and testing.
- Intensive relapse prevention.
- Individual therapy.
- Family therapy.
- Group work.
- Life skills.
- Wellness program.
During your time with us, you’ll experience these types of approaches and therapies through 12-step programs, PTSD education, anger management, and addressing grief and loss counseling.
Arriving at Our Facilities
If flying in from out of state, you’ll be picked up at the airport to be transported to our facility where you’ll meet with an admissions coordinator to sign admissions paperwork (e.g., consent forms) and learn more about your room and the property. We believe substance abuse can stem from isolation and therefore encourage veterans to room with other veterans. However, private rooms are sometimes available for an additional cost.
When it comes to your programming, all veterans are placed in a group with only other veterans and first responders so that you are able to go through the process together. That’s why each facility that offers our Salute to Recovery program has created “battalions.” We know you’ve had different life experiences, so we want to make sure you feel comfortable and understood in our program when discussing what you’ve gone through in the line of duty. It’s a way to allow you to bond with people who have similar life experiences—including staff members—during one of the most important periods of life: your recovery.
Within our Desert Hope and Recovery First facilities, you’ll also work with a therapist who is a veteran.
Therapy Approaches for Veterans
Our treatment for veterans is evidence-based and focuses on approaches that can help create strategies for positive decision-making and lifestyle changes. It includes:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT allows individuals to work on identifying and shifting negative cognitive (thinking) patterns and behaviors in order to better cope with situations that can lead to substance use.4 A couple of different therapies that fall under the umbrella of CBT include:
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): The goal of ACT is to help individuals develop a realistic view of themselves that is not based on overall statements regarding their abilities or effectiveness.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This type of therapy helps individuals learn new skills, and whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in building a life worth living.5 When successful, patient will learn to imagine, express, pursue, and sustain goals that are independent of behaviors that are out of their control (e.g., substance abuse).5
- Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR therapy focuses on changing the way that the memory is stored in the brain in order to reduce or eliminate problematic symptoms.6
- Four Agreements Group Guide: Based on Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, this group explores the tenants of truth and how to handle assumptions, deal with harm, and do the best you can.
- The Neuroscience of Addiction: By teaching the science of addiction, individuals can better why they’re addicted and how to overcome it.
- Family Systems Theory: This type of therapy looks at the family as an emotional unit and maintains that patterns of interactions between members may call forth, preserve, and perpetuate both problematic and non-problematic behaviors.7
- Pain Management Group: Often, veterans and first responders are physically injured in the line of duty and the pain stay with them for years to come. Our pain management group works to address and deal with these physical pains.
Completing Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Depending on your length of stay—we offer 30-, 60-, and 90-day options—once you’ve finished your rehabilitation program, we’ll work to create an aftercare plan with you. Our case managers will assist you in finding ongoing assistance and continued support in your everyday lives in order to maintain long-term sobriety. At facilities that offer our Salute to Recovery program, the members of your battalion can also become part of your aftercare plan by providing support in your sobriety.
Aftercare efforts vary but include sober-living arrangements, continued sessions with a therapist, and ongoing participation in peer support groups such as 12-step programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, Al-Anon, and Nar-Anon.
Ready to Seek Treatment?
If you’re a veteran or a first responder who’s ready to seek alcohol rehab—or you need advice for a loved one—call our Admissions Navigators who are available 24/7. We offer compassionate, knowledgeable, and licensed physicians, therapists, and staff to oversee your recovery journey. Beyond treatment, we are committed to helping you find long-term sobriety after rehabilitation and are ready to discuss your options with you today!
. Teeters, J. B., Lancaster, C. L., Brown, D. G., & Back, S. E. (2017). Substance use disorders in military veterans: prevalence and treatment challenges. Substance abuse and rehabilitation, 8, 69–77.
. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Alcohol Use and Preventing Alcohol-Related Problems Among Young Adults in the Military.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Substance Abuse in the Military.
. American Psychological Association. (n.d.). What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
. Dimeff, L. A., & Linehan, M. M. (2008). Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Abusers. Addiction science & clinical practice, 4(2), 39–47.
. American Psychological Association. (2017). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.
. Wiley Online Library. (2016). Family Systems Theory.