Mental Health Commentary

Show-Me State veterans report added stress during pandemic

Posted 6/30/21

Over the past year, many communities across the United States have experienced varying degrees of challenges brought on by the pandemic, with veterans being among the most vulnerable.

In addition …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in
Mental Health Commentary

Show-Me State veterans report added stress during pandemic

Posted

Over the past year, many communities across the United States have experienced varying degrees of challenges brought on by the pandemic, with veterans being among the most vulnerable.
In addition to strenuous circumstances felt by many, including job loss, social isolation and mental health, veteran-serving organizations were also underfunded. Most of these establishments were operating on budgets of $25,000 or less per year prior to the pandemic, and that figure has decreased significantly.
With 5.2 percent of U.S. veterans currently unemployed, resulting in financial stress for many, and combined with co-occurring disorders that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, the combination of these factors could contribute to increased risk of alcohol or substance addiction during these challenging times.
VeteranAddiction.org, a leading provider of resources for veterans relating to addiction treatment, conducted a survey of 2,000 veterans and found that over 1 in 10 veterans in The Show-Me State (12 percent) have been drinking more alcohol during the pandemic as compared to any previous year.
With age being a big risk factor for COVID-19 mortality, and nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of U.S. veterans over the age of 50, there’s no doubt this group has increased vulnerability to the disease. The stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic could lead many veterans to turn to drugs during this time as a coping mechanism.
Not only is this method ineffective at handling emotions, alcohol, for example, can exacerbate negative feelings, and can be very addictive as well. Given that a large majority (89.4 percent) of veterans with a substance use disorder did not seek treatment in 2018, this places the group at a significant risk of addiction.
There is a strong link between drug use and mental health disorders, especially for veterans who have been exposed to high-stress circumstances as a result of combat. Mental health challenges can be brought on by both stressful life events and/or genetic factors.
Therefore, veterans who are often exposed to combat and dangerous situations experience high rates of mental illness, including substance abuse, PTSD, anxiety and depression. In 2018, it was found that more than 14,000 veterans experience severe impairment in their daily lives that was directly caused by a major depressive disorder.
In that same year, it was also found that 4 in 5 veterans abused alcohol. Additionally, among veterans diagnosed with depression, 1 in 3 (33.2 percent) were also diagnosed with PTSD.
The 2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report found the average number of veteran suicides per day was 17.6. While this statistic was an increase from previous years, there were positive trends related to prevention efforts overall — the data shows the rate of suicide among veterans who recently used VA health services has decreased.

See more info at VeteranAddiction.org 

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here