The Link Between Combat Stress and Substance Abuse

It is unfortunately common for survivors of combat stress to develop substance abuse issues which can be disabilities on their own and contribute to other conditions as well. While alcohol or drugs may provide temporary relief for Veterans to deal with stress, depression, sleep issues, or to escape memories, the long term health consequences can be very damaging.

The temporary relief from combat stress symptoms frequently makes the problem worse.  Over time, the use of alcohol or drugs can result in reduced ability to deal with stress and trauma and ultimately impair sleep. Their are 4 common symptoms related to combat stress.

Symptoms of Combat Stress

  1. Re-experiencing trauma. One of the hallmarks of enduring combat stress is for the Veteran to experience flashbacks, nightmares, unavoidable bad memories, or physical reactions to emotional triggers.
  2. Emotional numbness. Feeling distant and lacking interest in activities or being around other people.
  3. Avoidance.  Actively avoiding anything that reminds the Veteran of the trauma, including activities, people, and places.
  4. Emotional Arousal. Increased excitability that can manifest in sleeplessness, lack of concentration, irritability, or generally being jumpy.

Because combat stress can lead to increased likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse, it is important to understand that a Veteran’s substance abuse issues may be a direct result of their experience in combat. If so, you may be entitled to VA compensation.

If you believe that your alcohol or drug abuse may be linked to your PTSD or other combat stressors, you may want to speak to a VA disability attorney to determine if you may be entitled to compensation based on your disabilities. Berry Law is a Veteran owned and operated law firm that is committed to helping Veterans nationwide. Contact us online or call (888) 883-2483 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.