Deployment can be difficult on many levels. Long periods away from family and home can cause loneliness and isolation, leading to addiction and unhealthy behavior.
Maintaining health and wellness during deployment for active duty military can be challenging to say the least. Deployment can cause even the most physically fit soldier’s health to deteriorate and become more sedentary during downtime.
To make matters worse, it’s not uncommon to suffer from loneliness or depression while deployed away from loved ones, which can lead to the temptation of self-medicating through alcohol or drugs. Even though deployment will test your physical limits and take you out of your comfort zone, it can also put your mental, emotional, and physical health at risk depending on how you cope with change while deployed.
Fortunately, there are ways you can combat this feeling through positive habits. This article will detail how to mentally, emotionally, and physically stay healthy during deployment to avoid the pitfalls of addiction during this difficult time in your life.
What Causes Addiction for Active Military Personnel During Service
During deployment, active-duty military personnel is under a lot of stress. This can lead to them turning to drugs or alcohol to cope. Some people may be more prone to addiction than others due to genetics or pre-existing mental health conditions.
There are several reasons why military personnel may turn to drugs or alcohol. For example, boredom during downtime can lead to increased substance abuse. This is especially true if there aren’t other ways to pass the free time, such as going out with friends or engaging in hobbies.
Additionally, some people may feel intense pressure from family members to get back home safely, which causes them stress over whether they’ll make it home safe and sound. If a person has more than one reason for abusing substances, it becomes very likely that they will develop an addiction over time.
Signs of Addiction Among Active Military Personnel During Service
Active military personnel is more likely to suffer from addiction than civilians due to the high-stress environment they live and work in. Addiction can manifest itself in many ways, including alcohol abuse, drug abuse, gambling, sex addiction, and more. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Excessive drinking of alcohol
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Misuse of prescription drugs
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Decreased interest in personal appearance
- Low self-esteem
Tips On How to Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically Stay Healthy During Deployment
Build a Support Network
No one should have to go through deployment alone. It’s important to build a support network of family and friends who can provide emotional support during this difficult time. You should also seek professional help if you’re struggling to cope with deployment-related stress.
Having a strong support network is particularly important if you’re trying to avoid addiction. Deployments can be associated with problems with alcohol abuse and prescription painkiller misuse. These problems are often linked to both pre-existing factors and factors that arise in service members’ lives while on deployment.
The more negative stressors you experience during deployment, such as living in austere conditions or losing a comrade, can increase your risk of addiction during or after deployment. If you start having substance abuse issues while you’re deployed, reach out for help from a counselor or therapist experienced in helping military personnel cope with their mental health issues.
When you are away from family and friends during deployment, it is easy to feel isolated and alone. Finding ways to connect with others and stay involved in activities that make you feel good is important. Reach out to other military families, develop new friendships or spend time with the people you do have access to.
Participate in fitness classes, explore a new hobby or engage in social media (Facebook). Join a gym near your base or start a walking group. Volunteer at an animal shelter or food bank near your home base so that you can meet other people who share your interest in helping others while staying active.
Exercise is a great way to improve your mental and physical health. It can help you sleep better, boost your energy levels, and improve your mood. Deployment can be stressful, so it’s important to find ways to relieve stress.
When you exercise regularly, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins give you a sense of euphoria that helps reduce your stress levels. Exercise can also help strengthen your immune system, making you less likely to get sick during deployment.
Find a physical activity you enjoy and make it part of your daily routine. Even something as simple as walking around the base for 30 minutes daily can give you some extra energy and make you feel more awake when it’s time for bed. Remember that mental activities like puzzles or reading can count too! Any type of movement is better than nothing at all!
It’s no secret that deployment can be stressful. Studies have shown that service members are more likely to develop mental health issues during deployment than at any other time. So how can you avoid becoming a statistic?
One key way is by learning how to manage stress effectively. Luckily, there are several evidence-based ways that have been shown to reduce stress for service members. One such technique is called cognitive reappraisal (also known as reframing).
This involves replacing negative thoughts with positive ones to improve your mood. Another effective strategy is mindfulness training (which can also be used at home if you’re not deployed).
Mindfulness trains you in recognizing and observing your thoughts without judgment or evaluation. Similarly, practicing relaxation techniques regularly can greatly improve your ability to remain calm even during stressful situations.
Practice Good Sleep and Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene starts with a regular sleep schedule. Set a time for when you will go to bed and wake up each day, including weekends. Give yourself enough time to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Also, create a relaxing bedtime routine that helps you wind down before sleep. This could include reading or taking a bath.
If you don’t sleep well, you’re more likely to experience health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Sleep also impacts your mental health—people who aren’t getting enough sleep may have trouble controlling their emotions. Make sure your bedroom is free of distracting noises or disruptions.
You should also practice good hygiene during deployment—this includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing every day, and washing daily with soap. Healthy eating habits can also help you sleep better.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to seek help from a trusted friend or family member, your chain of command, or mental health professional. It’s important to stay connected to your support system and take care of yourself during and after deployment.
The first step is admitting you have a problem. If you’re thinking about drugs or alcohol excessively when you don’t have them in front of you, if you’re having trouble controlling your use despite repeated attempts, or if your substance abuse has become an issue at work or home, it’s time to get help. The next step is finding a program that meets your needs.
Some programs are tailored towards military members—for example, some Veteran Affairs rehabilitation centers offer specialized counseling for veterans—but there are also plenty of more general options available from organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Addiction Treatment Options for Active Military Personnel
When you’re in the military, deployment can be very stressful. You may be worried about your safety, the safety of your fellow soldiers, and the well-being of your family back home. This stress can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. It’s important to find ways to cope with stress healthily. If you don’t, you may risk developing an addiction. Some of the most common addiction treatment options include:
Addiction is a serious problem for active military personnel. The 12-step facilitation has been shown to be an effective addiction treatment and can help active military personnel deal with their addiction.
The therapist facilitating 12-step facilitation will typically meet with the client weekly for an hour or two.
Sessions involve listening, analyzing the addictive behavior, reflecting on underlying causes of the addictive behavior, helping identify triggers for addictive behaviors, and exploring alternative coping skills to deal with feelings that lead people to become addicted.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Addiction is a serious problem among active military personnel. Fortunately, there are treatment options available that can help. One effective option is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been proven to be an effective way to treat addiction and prevent relapse, with studies showing a reduction in relapses of 50% to 75%. In addition, CBT has been shown to reduce the likelihood of substance abuse and misuse by 50%.
There are two main approaches to CBT. The first approach is based on the Relapse Prevention model, which focuses on teaching new skills for coping with high-risk situations and practicing these skills in controlled settings until they become automatic responses.
The second approach focuses on cognitive restructuring, which involves identifying negative thoughts and beliefs about oneself or one’s environment and replacing them with positive thoughts.
If you know someone serving and they are struggling with addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. There are a variety of treatment options available, and Contingency Management (CM) is one effective approach that can be used to treat addiction among active military personnel.
CM uses vouchers, vouchers for goods and services, or other rewards to promote abstinence. CM can be particularly helpful in treating active military personnel because it is structured, immediate, and not based on an arbitrary time frame. Instead of waiting weeks or months to be admitted into a treatment program, a voucher-based approach allows a patient to begin working toward recovery immediately.
This can help reduce cravings and prevent relapse. It also creates accountability by requiring patients to continue making progress toward their treatment goals throughout their course of treatment. This accountability is important when combatting addictive behavior because you never know when you’ll find yourself back in your old environment where drugs are readily available.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it’s important to seek help. And while there are many options for treatment, those who are active military personnel may find that Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is especially helpful. Here’s why:
REBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on changing negative thinking patterns to change negative emotions and behaviors. This can be extremely helpful for those struggling with addiction, as substance abuse often goes hand-in-hand with negative thinking patterns.
REBT has also been shown to be particularly effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is common among active military personnel.
Treatment with Medication
There are several treatment options available for active military personnel struggling with addiction. One option is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This type of treatment involves the use of medication to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. MAT can be an effective way to treat addiction, especially when combined with counseling and other support services.
You’ll likely need to go through a referral process to receive care if you’re on active duty. However, many military treatment facilities offer MAT—and all Department of Defense (DoD) health care plans cover some types of addiction treatment. Check with your insurer or facility staff to learn about your coverage options.
Another option is to apply for a private health insurance plan. This can cover your addiction treatment costs even if you’re not on active duty. You may also be able to file for benefits from Veterans Affairs (VA).
Resources That Defining Wellness Can Provide to Those Looking to Seek Treatment
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Addiction treatment facilities can provide various resources to help those in need, including detoxification programs, counseling services, and aftercare planning.
Defining Wellness offers compassionate care for all individuals affected by addiction, regardless of military status. We offer specialized care tailored to the needs of active military personnel who are looking for treatment at an inpatient facility.
The team at Defining Wellness has years of experience treating all kinds of drug addictions and mental health disorders related to these addictions, which means we are prepared to handle any challenges that come your way during recovery.
We also have access to group therapy sessions focusing on socialization skills so that patients can better adapt to society following their rehabilitation process. On top of this, our experienced staff will work closely with patients’ families to ensure they’re well-informed about what’s going on with their loved ones and what they can do to support them throughout the recovery process.
Defining Wellness understands that every individual is different and responds differently to certain treatments, which is why we offer various levels of care (inpatient/outpatient) depending on each patient’s unique needs. Our goal is to provide excellent care and give patients peace of mind while they are away from home and going through withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment.