Our military personnel matter to us all. Putting themselves at the service of our country is a noble calling and should be respected. Whether they are currently active duty or veterans, having available resources to help overcome a substance use disorder is essential. These brave individuals put their lives on the line for our freedoms and deserve our support when addiction surfaces.
With Tricare health insurance, the military healthcare provider, soldiers can now get the help they need. Tricare covers a wide range of services related to treatment for substance use disorder. Tricare is a game changer for military members struggling with addiction and/or mental health issues.
The rates of substance use among our active military members have declined in the past few years, but substance use continues to be a problem. Some may use alcohol, prescription opioids, marijuana, or stimulants. These substances are used to self-medicate emotional distress, boredom, painful injuries, or a co-occurring mood disorder.
Barriers to Treatment
Military members do face roadblocks to treatment. There is still stigma surrounding substance use and the armed forces have strict policies about it. These barriers may keep soldiers from getting the help they need. Also, they may fear rehab would harm their career or their security clearance privileges. Although the armed forces have established clear guidelines that state there will be no damage to their career, the fear is still a serious obstacle.
Untreated substance use disorders tend to get worse, and that will have a negative effect on their military career. Also, the veterans who return back to civilian life may return home with a serious substance problem. These soldiers may have never been treated for the substance problem while active. Thankfully, there are many resources for veterans with a substance use or co-occurring disorders. These services are plentiful in the private sector and through the Veteran’s Administration.
Substance Use in the Military
People who work in the military are just as affected by drugs and alcohol as civilians. Based on data in the book Substance Use Disorders in the U.S. Armed Forces, 20% of our troops engage in alcohol abuse. Alcohol, opioid or cocaine misuse can turn into addiction or dependency, while binge drinking can cause alcohol poisoning. But our military members are held to a higher standard, compared with civilians. To undertake their duties they must be alert, fit, and responsible. Abusing drugs or alcohol can hurt the soldier’s ability to perform their duties. This can end up putting those who depend on them in danger.
The Department of Defense requires military personnel to take random drug tests to help prevent substance abuse. There are serious penalties if a member of the military tests positive. They might be dishonorably discharged, or even face criminal charges. In fact, substance use is considered a serious offense, and can result in separation by reason of misconduct. These are good reasons for someone to seek help for a substance problem.
Tricare Insurance for Addiction Treatment
Tricare is the health insurance program for military personnel and their families. There are some qualifying conditions to be met. For example, for residential treatment the person must have a formal substance use disorder diagnosis. Other conditions include if there are withdrawal symptoms, and if there is impairment in functioning.
As far as detox goes, similar conditions exist. Tricare will decide which type of detox program is best for the member. This is based on how serious the addiction is, and how long it has lasted. These things help them predict if serious problems could happen during detox.
Tricare covers the following recovery services:
- Residential or inpatient treatment
- Intensive outpatient programs
- Partial hospitalization programs
- Detox services
- Family therapy services
- Medication-assisted treatment
Different Tricare health plans have various benefits. For the most current information on your Tricare coverage and out of pocket expense estimates, contact your Tricare representative. The different Tricare health insurance plans include:
- Tricare Young Adult
- Tricare Prime
- Tricare Prime Remote
- Tricare Select
- Tricare Standard Overseas
- Tricare for Life
- Tricare Reserve Select
- Tricare Retired Reserve
Whether a treatment provider needs to be in-network will depend on the plan. Some plans do allow the member to receive treatment from an out of network provider, but these are more costly. Tricare offers full coverage of addiction-related services only for select providers.
Substance Use Disorders and Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders
Being in the military is a hard life. It is stressful on many levels. Members of the military are exposed to stressors like deployment, combat, and reintegration issues after their tour is completed. In recent years there has been attention on the high rates of suicides among military personnel.
The most common mental health problems among military members and veterans include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These mental health issues can lead to a substance abuse problem. If the substance use becomes a disorder, the individual is said to have a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is when there are co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.
Soldiers who suffer from PTSD may use a substance to feel better. Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Easily startled
- Avoidance of triggers that remind them of the trauma
- Unwanted memories, thoughts, or nightmares of the event
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Negative attitude
- Feelings of shame and guilt
- Relationship problems
- Substance abuse
When someone has both disorders it is important that they receive the right treatment. A dual diagnosis program will treat both problems at the same time, which helps recovery success.
What Treatment is Available for Military Members?
When the signs of addiction have appeared, the commanding officer of an active duty military member can refer them for treatment. At first, they will have an intake interview so the treatment center can make a plan to help them. If the veteran or active military member has a severe case they will need residential care. If so, the commanding officer will be updated on the person’s progress. This information can help the commander make decisions about his or her fitness for duty. Treatment can be received through the military V.A. or through a civilian addiction recovery program.
Treatment will involve many elements that will help the individual change the thought and behavior patterns that fuel the substance use. If there is a coexisting mental health condition, that will be treated at the same time as the substance use disorder. Treatment will include:
Detox and withdrawal. Once the substance has been stopped the body will go through a process of adjustment. This is a difficult phase to go through, but necessary. The detox team will help reduce discomfort for the withdrawal symptoms. Medications and emotional support are given to help the person finish the detox process.
Psychotherapy. Therapy can help the individual deal with any emotional issues that may be present. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps them change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors so they won’t fall back into substance use.
Trauma therapy. For military members who experienced a trauma, there is a type of therapy for that called exposure therapy. Exposure therapy helps the person become less triggered by the memory of the event.
Group therapy. Small gatherings of people in treatment can be a good setting for discussing recovery topics. A counselor gives the group a topic and then guides them in discussion. They find strength in each other’s stories and support.
Family therapy. Addiction hurts the whole family unit. Part of treatment includes family members who can work through issues. They learn how to communicate better with each other, and how to set boundaries.
12-Step program. The 12-step program, and other recovery programs, can offer structure to the process of getting and staying sober. These programs offer local meetings that are a good source of peer support.
Education. There is much to learn about addiction. Classes teach about how addiction happens in the first place, and how to avoid relapse. Relapse prevention plans are made so they can prepare for triggers. The classes also help individuals learn new coping skills to use in recovery.
Holistic. There are healthy ways to relax without a substance. These holistic activities help to reduce stress by practicing yoga, getting a massage, mindfulness, deep breathing, acupuncture, or art therapy. These are things that can be practiced after rehab is completed.
Recreation. Outdoor activities promote social interaction and fitness. Being outside increases vitamin D and boosts the immune system and mood. Exercise also helps improve sleep quality. Activities might include hiking, sports, golf, swimming, or surfing.
Nutrition. What we eat is an important part of healing the body. Addiction can be very hard on the body, so a healthy diet is essential. Learning what foods are nutritious and which ones to avoid will help restore health and wellness.
Now that Tricare is offering coverage for needed addiction and mental health treatment, military members have high quality treatment available. Getting help for an addiction and/or mental health issue can be so important. This treatment could prevent a much more serious problem later.
Solutions 4 Recovery Accepts Tricare for Addiction Treatment
Solutions 4 Recovery is a premier beach town residential rehab in coastal Orange County. Solutions 4 Recovery now accepts Tricare coverage for addiction and dual diagnosis services for military and their families. Our program is a blend of evidenced-based and holistic elements. Launch your new life in sobriety in the healing ocean breezes at Capo by the Sea. Call today for program details at (888) 417-1874.