Veterans of Foreign War and PTSD Substance Abuse Research Paper

Pages: 7 (2331 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Psychology

High Risk Family Analysis

Veterans of Foreign Wars: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

and Substance Abuse Risks and Analysis

In beginning to assess the affects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its link to substance abuse among veterans of foreign wars, a survey questionnaire was distributed to 75 veterans (68 male and 7 female), with the following questions for their addressing: 1.) Have you experienced any mental health issues since returning from deployment or war; 2.) Do you abuse alcohol or drugs; 3.) Do you suffer from PTSD; 4.) Were you diagnosed with any mental health disorder; 5.) Do you feel that your substance abuse is related to your PTSD or your service in the war; and 6.) Do you feel that you have suffered from the side affects of your service in war? The ages of the veterans who responded were between 30 and 70 years old.

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In order to determine if there is, in fact, a link between substance abuse and PTSD among veterans of foreign wars, the research situation at hand utilized quantitative cluster sampling in order to gauge a response from veterans that would be indicative of the entire veteran population in the United States. In analyzing the findings of this research, counselors and therapists, abiding by the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics and the Association for the Addiction Professional Code of Ethics, will be better equipped to pinpoint the moment that intervention is needed in order to keep veterans from becoming substance abusers. In begging to assess the type of therapeutic and counseling treatment that is needed to aid these veterans -- and in taking specific focus on cognitive behavioral therapy as well as solution focused therapy, counselors and intervention leaders will be better able to pinpoint the source of trauma within that veteran and develop a therapy plan that is most suited to their respective mental needs.

Research Paper on Veterans of Foreign War and PTSD Substance Abuse Assignment

Findings: Clinical Needs of Veterans

Out of the 75 veterans who responded to the questionnaire at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall 66, 66 of the veterans stated that they do indeed have flashbacks of the war, nightmares, and do consider themselves to have a mental health issue. 9 veterans stated that they did not feel any different since returning from the war. 41 of the veterans stated that at one time or another in their lives, they abused alcohol and/or drugs but are not currently using. 11 of the veterans claimed that they were alcoholics who have sought treatment. 18 veterans claimed that they abused alcohol while serving in the military and continued to use once they returned home, but do not feel that the war was a contributing factor to this use; these individuals claim that they began drinking only to serve as a pastime for their young selves. Finally, 15 veterans stated that they only drink socially and have done so while and since they were serving. Over 75% of the males were substance abusers while the female respondents listed themselves as social drinkers.

An overwhelming margin of respondents, as seen, directly correlated their substance abuse to their PTSD from their time served in various wars throughout history. This correlation was also found among many younger respondents which is in direct correlation with research that has found that there is a considerable concern about the emergence of significant substance abuse among many younger veterans of wars, especially those in the Middle East (Desai, Petrakis, Rosenheck, 2008, p. 185). This direct link, while little true research exists as to the entire veteran population, can be expanded from its small group analysis to the overall population to pinpoint trends and focus on intervention. The truth is evident in its pointing to a direct link between PTSD and substance abuse, but it remains in the hands of counselors and therapists in and out of direct military involvement to walk a veteran through recovery from the time he is deployed until his death.


In order to effectively pinpoint and treat the PTSD and general trauma that soldiers and veterans experience, focus must be made to extensive and extended treatment. Just as a veteran will always remember his experiences in war, so will these experiences continue to effect his general psyche and well-being. Even the slightest trauma can cause life-long stress on the brain, which sends veterans searching for ways to alleviate the pain or stress that they feel, thus turning to drugs and alcohol. As such, intervention is key and must take place in every therapy or counseling session that a veteran attends. Further, these counseling sessions, especially among high-risk veterans, must be mandated by the military in order to protect the mental health and overall well-being of those who have served their country so valiantly.

In both men and women veterans, the burden of medical illness is far greater for those with PTSD than for those with no mental health conditions, and the existence of any mental illness no matter how small can expand outward into more physical manifestations which can further limit a veteran's well-being (Frayne, et al., 2011, pp. 34). The key, then, to intervention and treatment, is to ensure that veterans always have the capacity to seek help when it is needed, regardless of their ability to pay or access the care they need geographically. The key to successful intervention is in providing veterans with the ability to receive ethically sensitive therapy and counseling in a manner that is directly-focused on their needs as veterans, taking into account the high levels of stress that war can leave in a veteran's mind for years after they have left direct service.

Necessary Counseling and Therapy Services

Providing ethically sensitive counseling and therapy services to veterans begins with their ability to access this care. Many researchers and military officials alike have noted that the only way to intervene in the substance abuse of veterans is for these veterans to take part in direct counseling or therapy that can aid them in their struggle to get clean. If left untreated, PTSD symptoms and substance abuse problems can become chronic and have a significant and negative impact on the lives of veterans, their families and their communities; further, veterans are also reluctant to seek treatment for mental health symptoms or alcohol problems which secondary to stigma (Brief, et al., 2011, pp. 239). As such, new methods for intervention and treatment have been created to allow veterans some sense of anonymity that is required in order for an individual to completely open up to treatment and the aid of another individual.

Web-based intervention, for instance has seen growing support among the military and the health profession for its ability to allow a veteran direct-access into his life, home and mind without his ever having to leave the comfort of his home. This one-on-one treatment allows a veteran suffering from PTSD and substance abuse the ability to directly communicate with a doctor, counselor or therapist in a cost-effective and health effective manner. However, this web-focus is certainly not the only way for a veteran, such as the many respondents to the research question at hand, to receive treatment. This manner only aids in increasing the rate of follow-up treatment, which is essential to the overall recovery of any substance abuser as well as to a veteran's overall health and well-being.

Above all else, in order to effectively impart successful counseling tactics into the mind of a veteran, this treatment must be extremely sensitive to the respective needs and background of each individual veteran. In viewing the focus group at hand, one can immediately see that men were more prone to answer in a certain way, while women were more likely to answer another. Younger veterans are more likely to use alcohol and admit to its abuse while older veterans attach the "social" stigma to their drinking. Therefore, in order to most effectively treat each individual veteran who is effected by PTSD and substance abuse, each respective counselor and therapist must impart specific cognitive behavior therapy aspects into their treatment as well as solution focused therapy in order to better treat these veterans in an all-encompassing manner that focuses on various aspects of their own lives and behaviors.

Treatment Planning: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapuetic approach to counseling that addresses the dysfunction of emotions, behaviors, and processes through a number of specified goal-oriented procedures. CBT has been used as a therapeutic method to treat veterans with PTSD and issues of substance abuse for many years. Research has shown that PTSD has many concurrent health concerns on a veteran that affect other parts of the body besides the brain. Research has further shown that CBT to address these types of health concerns can result in relatively more improvements to the overall physical condition of an individual (Galovski, et al., 2009, pp. 201). Additionally, research has shown that CBT in a manner that is as distanced as a counselor providing treatment via the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Veterans of Foreign War and PTSD Substance Abuse.  (2012, December 2).  Retrieved April 1, 2020, from

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