Types of Addiction Treatment for Veterans

When a person is trying to overcome a substance use disorder, numerous types of treatment for addiction that are available. Military veterans may have additional treatment programs designed to address their unique needs. Many substance abuse programs have special treatment for veterans which incorporates peer-to-peer group therapy and treatment for common co-occurring disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Knowing what treatment tracks are available at a facility and what these treatment programs and therapy types can do to help veterans get sober can help make the rehab process easier.

Types of Addiction Treatment Programs

Addition treatment programs are not one-size-fits-all solutions. Everyone, especially veterans, will find themselves with unique needs when attending rehab. These needs will often necessitate the use of different types of treatment for addiction. When you undergo an assessment at an addiction treatment center, your case will be evaluated based on several criteria to determine the types of treatment for addiction that will most benefit you. Some of these criteria include:1

  • The severity of your drug or alcohol use.
  • Whether or not you are in active withdrawal.
  • The presence of an underlying medical condition, whether physical or mental.
  • History of complications from withdrawal, such as seizures.
  • Relapse potential.
  • Living environment and support system.
  • Willingness and readiness to change.

After a substance abuse treatment professional evaluates your needs, you will then be placed in the type of treatment setting that best suits your situation. These treatment settings include:2

  • Detox is a common treatment program and first step for those beginning the rehab process. During detox, you will find yourself flushing substances like drugs or alcohol from your system. Oftentimes, detox will be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms that can vary in severity. Medical detox often occurs in a treatment facility or hospital, and is overseen by nurses and medical professionals. This allows medical staff to respond to potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Depending on your condition and needs, you may undergo types of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).Detox typically lasts a few days to a week or two. After which, you’ll be ready to pursue more intensive substance abuse treatment programs.
  • Inpatient treatment, which is the most intense type of treatment, providing 24/7 oversight and medical supervision. You will have counseling, usually in a group setting, though sometimes on an individual basis. You will also receive frequent assessments by nurses and doctors during your stay.
  • Residential treatment is a common type of treatment that sees patients living in a facility and receiving treatment for long periods of time. These programs will often incorporate various treatment tracks and therapy types. Residential treatment can last several months, as opposed to inpatient treatment which normally resolves within a few weeks.
  • Outpatient treatment allows you to receive the same types of counseling and assessment that you get in an inpatient program, but you will go home at night and on weekends. Outpatient treatment varies from a few hours a week, to as much as 20 hours per week. Outpatient is often used as a step-down treatment for those who have completed more intensive inpatient or residential programs, but still need support.

Addiction Therapy Types for Veterans

Veterans who attend substance abuse treatment programs may participate in a range of therapy types, including:4-8

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
  • Contingency management.
  • Group therapy.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of FDA-approved medications for addiction treatment.9 MAT medications may include:10-14

  • Buprenorphine/Suboxone.
  • Methadone.
  • Disulfiram.
  • Acamprosate.
  • Naltrexone.

Other Treatment Types

Other treatment approaches to substance abuse are complementary or alternative to the standard evidence-based practices. Often known as holistic therapies or holistic treatment, these alternative approaches are designed to be therapeutic and help foster strong physical and mental health. Some common holistic therapies include:15, 16

  • Yoga and meditation.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Art therapy.
  • Music therapy.
  • Equine therapy.

Each of these approaches needs more study to determine the effectiveness for treating substance misuse disorders. Although people enjoy these alternative types of treatment for addiction, there is no evidence to suggest that they can take the place of medically-informed, evidence-based substance abuse treatment programs.15

VA Treatment vs Private Programs

If you are a veteran, you have many quality substance abuse treatment options available to you. The VA is experienced in treating the needs of veterans and using evidence-based practices to do so. There are many benefits for attending a VA facility. VA facilities tend to be lower in costs, especially for veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system. Additionally, the use of evidence-based treatments allows them to have a strong medical basis for treatment. The VA’s healthcare network is specifically designed to serve veterans, and many of the staff members are experienced and able to connect with veterans in a way that the staff at other facilities may not be able to. However, you may not live close to a VA treatment center, or the VA center near you has a long waiting list for treatment.

As a veteran, you should be aware that the VA is not your only option for addiction treatment. In addition to veteran substance abuse treatment programs through the VA, private providers partner with the VA through the VA Community Care Network. This is a network of providers that veterans can access to receive treatment at non-VA treatment centers throughout the United States. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a community partner with the VA and thus provides quality treatment for veterans at our locations nationwide.

Do Veteran Benefits Cover The Various Substance Abuse Programs?

Your VA benefits may cover substance abuse treatment for you at various veteran drug treatment programs, including those at AAC. Your individual situation will affect approval of VA benefits, including your need for inpatient or outpatient treatment. It’s best to contact a VA representative to determine the extent of your coverage under the VA healthcare network.

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