Risk of Addiction for Combat Veterans

David Wilson 

Risk of Addiction for Combat Veterans


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Why might veterans of military service returning from combat be at risk for addiction?

There is a lot of research on combat military veterans, and addiction. One of the main factors associated with combat veterans and addiction is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many service members and veterans seeking treatment for alcohol problems have experienced the life-threatening stress of combat, many have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many service members and veterans seeking treatment for PTSD have alcohol or other substance problems (Allen et al., 2016). The psychological effects of war can have a profound effect on a person’s mental health. Sadly, many of our service members are very young when they join the military and are shipped overseas. PTSD is the most common mental health diagnosis for the nearly 1 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan between October 1, 2001, and September 30, 2013 (Tanielian & Jaycox, 2016). As such, I believe many of these veterans cope with their mental health problems by using, abusing, and becoming dependent on alcohol and other substances which inevitably will become an addiction if left untreated.

Strategies for risk prevention.

The first strategy for treating this co-occurring disorder is inpatient treatment. The Veterans Administration offers a multitude of services to help combat veterans who have returned to mainstream society. Trauma-focused interventions meant to address both PTSD and AUD or SUD perform as well or better than usual treatments in reducing symptoms of both disorders (Roberts et al., 2012). I believe that intervention programs should be available for combat veterans as soon as they return back to the states. We can not prevent what happens to them psychologically while they are in combat; however, we can potentially intervene as soon as they return to the states. Finally, not every combat veteran will develop PTSD, but there are other stressors that could put them at risk of developing an addiction.


Allen, J. P., Crawford, E. F., and Kudler, H. (2016). Nature and Treatment of Comorbid Alcohol Problems and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Among American Military Personnel and Veterans. 38(1): 133-140. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4872608/

Roberts, N.P, Roberts, P.A, Bisson, J.I. (2012) Psychological interventions for post-traumatic stress disorder and comorbid substance use disorder [Protocol] Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Tanielian ,T., Jaycox L. H. (2016) . Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. 

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By Day 6

Respond to at least one of your colleagues.

  • Include a different risk factor
  • Present a different model that might explain a risk factor(s)
  • Provide a different perspective on one aspect of a colleague’s post
  • Expand on a colleague’s post by providing a new insight


Evans, R. I. (2002). Just-say-no campaign. San Francisco, CA: Healthline. Retrieved from the Healthline website: http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/just-say-no-campaign

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