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Veterans and the Power of Supportive Networks

& Medically Reviewed by Jenni Jacobsen, LSW

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Last Updated - 03/02/2024

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Updated 03/02/2024

In the intricate journey of addiction recovery, veterans find strength in fostering resilient support networks. Extensive research underlines the pivotal role of peer support services, showcasing their efficacy in not only facilitating treatment engagement but also navigating challenges like persistent drug cravings during the recovery process.

Nurturing Supportive Networks

For veterans contending with addiction and mental health hurdles, the embrace of a resilient support network emerges as a catalyst for transformation. Recovery rarely occurs in solitude; a resilient support network becomes not only a source of emotional sustenance but also a wellspring of coping skills and tools cultivated through shared experiences.

These networks transcend mere support; they become conduits for collective growth and unwavering resilience.

Confronting Alienation: A Pervasive Challenge for Veterans

Within civilian communities, veterans, especially those of advanced age, grapple with the challenge of isolation. Research emphasizes the vulnerability of aging veterans to loneliness and social alienation.

For veterans dealing with addiction or mental health complexities, social alienation amplifies challenges, often exacerbating symptoms. In this context, resilient support networks emerge as potent antidotes, countering the corrosive effects of isolation.

Tailored Assistance: Exclusive Support Groups for Veterans

Acknowledging the distinctive challenges veterans encounter, certain treatment centers provide exclusive support groups. These specialized groups offer a secure space for sharing concerns, gaining insights, and forging connections with individuals who have walked similar paths.

In the realm of veteran-specific support groups, a profound sense of belonging develops. These environments foster understanding, free from judgment, as veterans share experiences related to war, deployment, and reintegration into civilian life.

Navigating the Support Landscape: VA and Beyond 

For veterans seeking support services, the VA stands as an indispensable resource. Reach out to your local VA treatment center to explore available support groups and browse peer support information on the VA’s official webpage.

Beyond the VA, local addiction treatment centers and mental health clinics offer additional avenues for support. Some facilities extend exclusive veteran support groups or trauma-informed groups. Even in broader trauma-informed settings, veterans may discover peers who share similar experiences.

Family & Friends

While professional services and peer groups form crucial pillars of support, the backing of family and friends is equally essential. Engaging trusted individuals throughout the recovery journey provides supplemental strength and encouragement.

Initiate transparent communication with loved ones about your treatment journey. Their support can range from accompanying you to appointments to serving as empathetic listeners during challenging moments. Immediate family members may find value in participating in family counseling sessions to enhance their ability to support you.

The VA extends caregiver support, offering resources to family members caring for veterans. Families can explore available services, including clinical support and assistance with financial planning.

Camaraderie Among Veterans

Establishing connections with fellow veterans becomes an invaluable asset in your recovery journey. Actively engage in peer support groups, sharing experiences and offering advice within a judgment-free environment.

The shared experiences among fellow veterans forge a unique camaraderie, creating a space where mutual understanding and unwavering support thrive.

Supporting a Veteran’s Battle: Strategies for Allies

For those witnessing a veteran’s struggle with addiction, providing support is pivotal. Consider these ways to be a source of assistance:

  • Deepen your knowledge about addiction: A foundational step in aiding a veteran with addiction is understanding the complexities of substance use.
  • Extend a compassionate ear: Sometimes, individuals in recovery need an empathetic listener. Be prepared to lend an understanding ear without judgment.
  • Advocate for professional treatment: Many veterans in recovery require professional intervention. Encourage them to seek help, emphasizing that reaching out is courageous.
  • Identify potential triggers: Recognizing and understanding potential triggers is vital. Be aware of situations that may induce distress and show empathy during these moments.

The Anchoring Role of Support Groups in Recovery

Support groups play a pivotal role in the recovery process, connecting individuals facing similar challenges. These groups provide platforms for learning from shared experiences and building networks for accountability and relapse prevention.

While support groups significantly contribute to veterans’ recovery, they represent just one piece of the multifaceted recovery process. Participation in a professional treatment program is equally critical, offering access to therapy, medication, and comprehensive rehabilitation services.

Embarking on Professional Treatment

For veterans exploring information about support groups, engaging in professional treatment for mental health and addiction is often necessary. Professional treatment aligns veterans with essential services tailored to their distinctive needs.

Understanding the spectrum of care levels is crucial when contemplating treatment options:

  • Inpatient services: Intensive residential programs offering around-the-clock care, suitable for veterans with severe addictions. Medical detox services, providing 24/7 medical support during withdrawal, are often integrated into inpatient programs.
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHP): A step down from inpatient care, PHPs involve a minimum of 20 hours of weekly services without a residential stay.
  • Intensive outpatient services (IOP): Community-based programs providing a minimum of nine hours of service per week, allowing veterans to return home every night. 
  • Standard outpatient care: A lower intensity of care, involving under nine hours of service per week, suitable for veterans transitioning from higher levels of care.

Explore Treatment at The Recovery Village

For veterans seeking professional treatment, The Recovery Village offers several options. Our staff specializes in trauma-informed modalities tailored to veterans, and we are proud members of the VA Community Care Network.

Our expertise extends to treating addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders such as PTSD or depression. Reach out to one of our Veteran Advocates today to embark on your journey toward recovery.

View Sources

Tracy, Kathlene; Wallace, Samantha. “Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction.” Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 2016. Accessed November 5, 2023. 

Wilson, G.; Hill, M.; Kiernan, M.D. “Loneliness and social isolation of military veterans: systematic narrative review.” Occupational Medicine, December 2018. Accessed November 5, 2023. 

Leigh-Hunt, N., et al. “An overview of systematic reviews on the public health consequences of social isolation and loneliness.” Public Health, November 2017. Accessed November 5, 2023. 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Peer Support Groups.” September 13, 2023. Accessed November 5, 2023. 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “VA Caregiver Support Program.” October 31, 2023. Accessed November 5, 2023. 

Department of Health and Human Services. “Medicare Coverage of Substance Abuse Services.” April 28, 2016. Accessed November 5, 2023. 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Substance Use Disorders.” 2021. Accessed November 5, 2023.