On November 11th, all of Canada will come together to honour and remember our veterans who have served our country.
Known and remembered for their bravery, these men and women have been heroic participants in peacekeeping missions and military conflicts all over the world. However, because of this, sometimes its easy to forget that these individuals are still very much human, and equally vulnerable. It is so important for us to support veterans in recovery from addiction and other health issues.
During service, military personnel often experience many hardships like stressful living conditions, frequent moves, separation from family and the trauma of war. When returning home from deployment or ending service, they face a full new set of challenges that come from transitioning back into civilian life, as well as side-effects from trauma and chronic pain.
Perhaps the most common mental problem that veterans face is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a disorder that can occur as a result of witnessing a traumatic event – like military combat. Signs and symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, intense feelings of anxiety and helplessness, sudden bouts of anger or adrenaline, memory problems, low sense of self-worth, sleeping problems and aggression.
PTSD is just one of the disorders that veterans can experience as a direct result of service. In fact, a 2013 report by Canada statistics revealed that about 1 in 6 members of the Canadian Armed Forces reported symptoms of at least one of the following disorders: major depressive episodes, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. In order to cope with these serious emotional and mental health issues, many turn to drugs or alcohol, putting veterans at an increased risk for substance abuse disorders.
Effective Treatment Options for Veterans
Drug and alcohol abuse is a major leading health concern for the entire country. However, with an individualized and comprehensive treatment plan, life-long recovery is possible.
When it comes to recovery specifically for veterans, because it’s more likely that a veteran diagnosed with a substance use disorder suffers from either depression, an anxiety disorder, PTSD, or some other mental health issue, it is crucial that the individual receives adequate treatment for these co-occurring disorders. An overwhelming amount of evidence shows that in general, individuals experience improved PTSD and SUD symptoms when they are provided treatment that addresses both conditions.
At Cedars, our inpatient treatment centre offers a wide-range of programs and support designed to treat the whole self, including top-of-the-line medical care, thorough assessments, physical therapy, holistic methods like yoga and mindfulness, social support groups and counselling, among others. We know that the mental and emotional hardships that come from service aren’t cured overnight. That’s why we also offer extended counselling options and alumni engagement opportunities that will support you well beyond inpatient treatment.
One approach that has a history of success with individuals who have experienced trauma is somatic therapy. The basic principle of this therapy focuses on the response to the perceived life threat that causes an unbalanced nervous system. Therefore, somatic therapy focuses on the body memory of the event, instead of the story itself.
As part of our multi-disciplinary recovery options, Cedars is proud to offer somatic therapy, facilitated by our experienced Somatic Therapist Geri Laurence. Together, we will help you uncover behavioural patterns and sensations that lie underneath your feelings so you can move forward in your complete recovery of mind, body and soul.
So as we prepare to honour our heroic veterans this Remembrance Day, we need to also remember that many veterans are grappling with mental health issues and addictions here at home. These individuals have dedicated their lives to serving our country, and now its our turn to support them through comprehensive treatment programs and options that put them on the path to life-long recovery.