Tribe: Veteran Addiction Treatment

Veterans in America

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates, as of 2016, approximately 20.6 million U.S. veterans are living in America. It is reported approximately 77% of these veterans served during wartime and 23% served during peacetime.

Many of those who have served, develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports approximately 11 to 20 out of every 100 veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom meet criteria for PTSD in a given year. About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans meet criteria for PTSD in a given year. It is believed that 30% of those who served in Vietnam have active, chronic, or ongoing symptoms that continue to meet the criteria for PTSD.

PTSD can lead to dangerous or self-destructive tendencies. This includes the abuse of alcohol and other drugs to shut off these uncomfortable memories, thoughts, and feelings. Ongoing substance abuse can lead to addiction. Addiction has the potential to alter a veteran’s life. Common consequences of untreated alcohol and drug addiction are joblessness, depression, divorce, legal troubles, and homelessness.

What is PTSD?

According to the American Psychiatric Association “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder can occur in people who have experienced or witnessing a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, combat, rape or other violent personal assault.”[1] This psychiatric disorder results in ongoing disturbing thoughts and feelings relating to the traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD fall into four categories. Specific symptoms can vary in severity.

  1. Intrusive thoughts: Repeated involuntary memories, distressing dreams, or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
  2. Avoiding reminders: This includes avoiding people, places, activities, objects, and situations that bring on distressing memories. People may try to avoid thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
  3. Negative thoughts: These feelings may include ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad” or “No one can be trusted”), ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame. Having less interest in activities previously enjoyed, feeling detached or estranged from others.
  4. Arousal and reactive behavior: Symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way, being easily startled and having problems concentrating or sleeping.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, for a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, the symptoms can persist for months and sometimes years.

Tribe: Veteran Addiction Treatment Program

Las Vegas Recovery Center’s veteran-focused treatment program Tribe offers specialized treatment plans to help veterans with substance use disorder, co-occurring chronic pain, and mental health issues, spanning both inpatient and outpatient levels of care. Our trauma-informed, individualized treatment also teaches coping skills to address the strains associated with service-related stress, grief, loss, trauma, PTSD, and the struggles experienced in transition into civilian life. Our team of professionals consults with national organizations and focus groups to ensure our programming meets the needs of veterans.

Levels of Care for Veterans

Medical DetoxMedically Monitored Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient Chronic Pain RecoveryClinically based Residential Treatment
Intensive Outpatient TreatmentOutpatient Treatment
Aftercare GroupsAlumni Services

Inpatient Treatment for Veterans

Tribe’s inpatient addiction treatment ensures veterans access to the right care at the right time. We have designed programs that provide the care necessary to ensure the entire person is treated. Inpatient programs can deal with any medical detox needs including chronic pain. During treatment, our credentialed staff delivers a variety of services and therapeutic modalities ensuring co-occurring mental health issues are treated. Veterans who are not dealing with ongoing health issues can access our residential program to receive the therapy that will build a strong foundation for a recovery-oriented lifestyle. Veterans will have the opportunity to participate in veteran-specific treatment groups and specialized therapy sessions with their peers. We find this is invaluable during the treatment process.

Survivors Guilt in Veterans as a Symptom of PTSD

“Why was I spared and not others?”

An emerging symptom of PTSD is known as survivor’s guilt. This enormous guilt is associated with one’s life being spared while others lost their lives. The continued question of, “Why me?” becomes an ongoing loop of evaluation of the events. It can lead to a variety of negative feelings. Survivor’s guilt on its own is not necessarily a sign of unhealthy grief and loss. For some, the feelings resolve over time. But for others, it is more difficult to find a resolution. Treatment through LVRC’s Tribe program will dive into a survivor’s guilt and provide therapy that can reduce or eliminate these feelings.

Treating Depression and Anxiety During Inpatient Treatment

Often, Veterans return to civilian life dealing with PTSD, many also struggle with depression and anxiety during and after their service. Depression can be much more than feelings of sadness. Symptoms can include irritability, anger, rage, and anxiety. Experiencing depression has nothing to do with one’s strength and is not something you can “just get over”. Depression has a negative impact on all aspects of daily living and interferes with civilian life. Veterans are up to five times more likely to experience episodes of depression than those who have never served. We know that the abuse of drugs and alcohol is often an attempt to deal with the negative aspects of depression and anxiety. It is imperative that during a course of treatment that each veteran receives the proper evaluations for the prevalence of depression and anxiety to ensure a treatment plan is developed, implemented, and continually evaluated for effectiveness.

Therapeutic Modalities and Treatment Interventions for Veterans

All of our available therapeutic modalities and interventions for veterans are based on clinical and medical needs following initial intensive assessments, as well as ongoing evaluations. These include but are not limited to:

Veteran and First Responder-specific programmingPsychoeducation and skills training groups
Pain Recovery ProgramTrauma processing groups
Family Renewal ProgramIndividual therapy
EMDR (as clinically indicated)Motivational Enhancement Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral TherapyDialectical Behavior Therapy
Narrative TherapyAcceptance and Commitment Therapy
Cognitive Processing TherapyPhysical Therapy/Physical Training
YogaChi Kung
Experiential TherapiesSpiritual Care Program

Outpatient Treatment for Veterans

Outpatient treatment is a critical component in the recovery process. Most of our veterans begin outpatient care once residential treatment is complete. Outpatient treatment varies in intensity. Programs include Intensive Outpatient, which meets multiple times a week with one individual therapy session once per week. Families and supporters of our Veterans are encouraged to participate in group therapy once a week. The duration of Intensive Outpatient is 6 weeks but can change based on clinical indicators. Upon completion of Intensive Outpatient treatment, many of our Veterans attend Outpatient group therapy. This level of care includes group therapy once per week and an individual session once a month.

Family Treatment Program

Tribe treatment plans extend beyond just the veteran. We also include specific treatment for family and loved ones. LVRC created a very special and unique program specifically for families and supporters of our clients. Family Renewal Program is a four-day intensive workshop that comes at no cost to loved ones of our clients. This program provides the family and supporters with tools to cope with the effects of substance use disorders, trauma, chronic pain, and serves to support the healthy reintegration of the client into family relationships.

Post Treatment

Having a detailed post-treatment transition plan is essential to preparing clients for their journey into recovery. After treatment, we refer clients to the LVRC Alumni Association, which serves as a bridge from treatment to life in long-term recovery by hosting events all year, including a weekly meeting. For those who are looking for a clinically driven support group, our Aftercare program gives participants a safe environment to discuss the issues they are facing throughout their recovery. This forum offers mindfulness-based therapy and spirituality practices to aid long-term recovery efforts.