PTSD, ADDICTION AND CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY REHAB FOR MILITARY VETERANS

Veterans returning home from combat and military deployment cope with psychological and emotional trauma of battlefield experiences. The physical and mental stress of serving in the armed forces expose veterans to a high risk of substance use disorder, or SUD. Physical injuries, combat exposure, psychological trauma and prolonged separation from loved ones take a severe toll on the body and mind. 

Veterans also often struggle with the psychological aftermath of combat, carrying invisible mental and emotional wounds that have profound effects on their lives. Months and even years after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, a soldier may re-experience the event, in the form of flashbacks, intrusive (unbidden) memories, and nightmares; this may be enough to disrupt sleep or cause significant impairment in daily life Emotionally and behaviorally avoid activities that are reminiscent of the traumatic event; the avoidance may be instinctive and compulsive, and may cause disruptions to daily life; be constantly tense and alert; the soldier may scare easily, overreact to neutral stimuli, be difficult to live with, and not be able to sleep at night because of constant hyperarousal.

Many veterans come home suffering from a variety of combat-induced mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorder. Three in four veterans report PTSD as a service-connected ailment, according to the Wounded Warrior Project. PTSD is debilitating anxiety caused by a exposure to a traumatic event or repeated exposure to trauma. Living through a difficult time can be traumatic and cause severe anxiety, and many veterans find themselves turning to drugs and alcohol to experience some relief. Some symptoms of PTSD include: Flashbacks, Memory problems, Low sense of self-worth, Hopelessness, Trouble sleeping, Relationship problems, Aggression. Other risk factors for addiction among veterans include insomnia (or other disruptions of regular, normal sleeping patterns), traumatic brain injuries (where the head is impacted so violently that the brain is pushed up against the skull, causing damage to nerve fibers), and problems in relationships.

Spending time with friends and family, participating in hobbies, and aiming to achieve personal goals are abandoned. The drugs and alcohol go from being the primary method to being the only method of protecting oneself against the emotional numbness and intrinsic fear caused by post-traumatic stress disorder. The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and combat-related substance abuse can strike at the heart of even the tightest knit of families. 

Veterans with PTSD are often prescribed anxiety medications, some of which are highly addictive. To curb the risk of addiction, some doctors prescribe non-addictive antidepressant medications such as Paxil or Zoloft. Even veterans without PTSD can become addicted to painkillers prescribed for combat-related injuries.

Veterans turn to controlled substances as a way of protecting themselves against the emotional and psychological toll of PTSD, the soldier eventually relies on the substances to simply make it from one day to the next. Common addictive medications prescribed to veterans include: Painkillers (Lortab, Vicodin, OxyContin); Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Valium, Xanax); and Sedatives (Ambien, Lunesta). Veterans taking these drugs may develop a dependence on them. As time goes on, veterans may spiral into full-blown addiction, which is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Many veterans self-medicate by turning to alcohol or controlled substances (Alcoholism, Benzodiazepines, Cocaine, Heroin, Fentanyl, Marijuana, and Meth) and the human cost is staggering. The abuse of prescribed painkillers and medication (Prescription Drugs include: Suboxone, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Valium, Ambien, Morphine, and Ritalin) increased at a rate that is double that of the civilian population. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 7 percent of veterans developed a substance use disorder. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) writes that service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan face the risk of problems stemming from compulsive abuse of controlled substances. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) writes that alcohol and drug abuse is strongly associated with exposure to scenes of violence in combat that make individual soldiers deeply afraid for their personal safety and well being. The American Medical Association (JAMA) published results showing that between 12-15 percent of soldiers tested positive for alcohol problems and over 50 percent of veterans engaged in binge drinking.

As awareness of the psychological and psychosocial needs of military veterans grows, the VA is becoming more responsive to veteransí needs. All VA medical centers operate a Substance Use Disorders (SUD) specialty care program to help veterans recover from drug or alcohol dependence. The Marine Corps Community Servicesí (MCCS) Substance Abuse Program provides outpatient care and intensive rehabilitation for active-duty Marines who suffer from substance use disorders. The Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) provides counseling, education and rehabilitation services for active military personnel. Active-duty sailors can get support and education from the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention program (NADAP). 

We are a complete, private, inpatient treatment center and drug rehab for veterans and active members from the Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force. We provide private treatment for chemical dependency (such as alcoholism and/or drug abuse) and co-occurring psychological disorders relating to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or the psychological effects of TBI (traumatic brain injury).

Whether you need help moderating your drinking or you have a life-threatening addiction to illicit drugs, support is available to help you get healthy and get back on track with your life. We are not just concerned with addiction, we also addresses the underlying motivators for alcohol and drug abuse, such as: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Depression, Anxiety, Relationship problems, Lack of sleep, Combat stress. We help veterans cope with PTSD, depression and anger as they recover from substance abuse or drug dependence. 

If you or a loved one are dealing with chemical dependency, need help with substance abuse treatment, or are seeking PTSD therapy, contact the California Palms so we can begin the healing process. The Palms was formerly a full-service hotel in Austintown Ohio. After losing two brothers to addiction, the owner converted the luxury hotel, to the California Palms Addiction Recovery Campus.  

The Palms provides the best possible environment for recovery. Each room has a private bathroom, a 50-inch flat screen TV with DVR and access to cable. Indoor amenities include a full-service gourmet restaurant, exercise rooms, billiards room, theater room, band stage, multiple community and group rooms and a 40 person hot-tub spa for aqua therapy. Outdoor amenities including an amphitheater, sand volleyball court, torch-lit patios, beach sand area, gazebo and nearby walking/bike trail.

The Palms multi-disciplinary team of state licensed behavioral health professionals hold masters degrees and are mainly veterans with personal addiction recovery experience. We provide a variety of individual and group sessions relevant to addiction, mental health, life skills, vocational goals and positive thinking. We focus on evidence-based psychosocial interventions depending on the level of addiction and level of care, intensity, and focus of treatment. We also incorporate physical fitness programs in our group sessions each day with Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, yoga, boxing, strength training, water aerobics and moving meditation. We also incorporate family reunification into recovery in a welcoming fun environment.

The Palms focuses on evidence-based psychosocial interventions and use the evidence-based approach for treating veterans developed by SAMHSA in its manual Substance Abuse Treatment For Persons With Co-Occurring Disorders. We also are guided by the evidence-based VA Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Patients with SUD. The Palms also use the most recent Patient Placement Criteria of the American Society of Addiction Medicine that define residential levels of care, admission criteria, staffing models, assessment dimensions, intensity, focus of treatment services, and treatment review guidelines. The Palms includes PTSD therapy in its program, with individual counseling and a veteran garden program by neurologist Holly Magiano, M.D. The Palms is also developing a PTSD therapy dog program, equine therapy program, and building a sensory deprivation tank.

At the Palms we divide therapy into eight segments: (1) providing quality addiction therapy with sustainable results, (2) providing long-term mental health treatment, (3) providing vocational assistance to get the veteran back to productive work, (4) integrating family into recovery, (5) incorporating peer support into recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Smart Recovery, (6) making recovery sustainable, through physical fitness and good nutrition, (7) indoctrinating positive affirmations, and self-esteem into recovery, and (8) providing sustainable aftercare through connectivity with the Palms staff and facility.

The Palms is a place where veterans can celebrate recovery together in a trusting, comfortable, safe and sober environment. Once a VA doctor diagnoses a veteran with substance use disorders and/or mental health issues, if inpatient treatment is unavailable at the VA within 30 days the Veterans Choice Program allows the veteran to choose our facility. The Veterans Choice phone number is 1-866-606-8198. 

Veterans deserve good, real and evidenced based therapy that will show positive outcomes. They deserve a treatment center where they can be with only military persons. They deserve to have a choice of where they want to go to treatment, just like non military people do. They deserve the best and that's what California Palms offers.

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