Active Military Addiction Treatment Program
Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis
Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.
Prioritizing Health and Wellness to Prevent Addiction
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
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
- 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 NetworkNo 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 RegularlyExercise 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!
Manage StressIt’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 HygieneGood 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 HelpIf 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.
Resources That Defining Wellness Can Provide to Those Looking to Seek Treatment
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.
Begin your Recovery Today
If you are ready to take the step towards a new life, call Defining Wellness today and learn more about how we can help you.