Many veterans find the time they spend enlisted in the service to be a positive experience that brings about major changes in character. Serving in the armed forces is a life event that most veterans count as one of the most transformative experiences they have ever engaged in. Many veterans, however, return from combat having suffered major psychological trauma.
Time spent fighting often brings about psychological issues like post traumatic stress disorder, which can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to function within their family and society at large. Soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are at a much higher risk for suffering from addiction issues, as well as experiencing run ins with the law. The Veterans Treatment Court is an arm of the justice system that is designed to help cater to the specific needs of veterans who have experienced run ins with the law.
How Does it Work?
In the Veteran’s Treatment Court, veterans who have faced legal issues are entered into a program that requires them to report to court twice a week to start. Over the course of the program, they are also subjected to random drug and alcohol testing, and attend treatment programs that have been specifically designed to address the needs and history that are specific to veterans and their unique experience.
Why is it Effective?
Without proper treatment and case management, many veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are at a very high risk for suffering repeated run ins with the judicial system, as well as issues of addiction and chemical dependency. The Veterans Treatment Court offers tailored and structured solutions that are designed to minimize the chances that a veteran in need will return to drugs or alcohol. Judges who oversee sentencing are often in close contact with the individuals overseeing other aspects of the program and can take into account a veteran’s progress and individual case when determining appropriate action within the program. Treatment meetings themselves are also designed for an individual who has the history and experience that is unique to veterans. The structure that is implicit to the program is very constructive for veterans who often, based on their military experience, respond very well to structure and clear boundaries.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Treating mental health and substance abuse often go hand in hand. Individuals who are prone to mental health issues are at a far greater risk for developing addiction issues, and those who abuse drugs and alcohol may find that issues like depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are severely compounded. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental illness that can lead a person to experience many severe symptoms. Individuals with PTSD may suffer from paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, and major mood swings. When a person who has PTSD is also abusing drugs or alcohol, these symptoms can become even worse and can lead to a long list of devastating consequences. Side effects as grave as suicide may occur when a person with PTSD is also suffering from addiction.
Finding the roots of a veteran’s PTSD and searching for real solutions to addiction issues are truly the only means by which the court can hope to help curtail drug dependency and severe mental illness before they lead to further run ins with the law and other severe consequences. Accomplishing this effectively means using methods that take into account the experience and thought processes of a soldier and the ways in which their history still has a profound effect on their mental health and the ways in which they view the world.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.