With a high concentration of military personnel in Florida—both active duty and retired—Recovery First aims to provide a hub of resources for addiction treatment and recovery specifically for veterans.
Substance abuse problems can be a particular challenge for veterans, but different treatments specifically geared toward veterans can help reduce substance use and addiction and improve quality of life and overall well-being.1
Recovery First’s offers a veterans’ program focused on the wellness of the veteran, not just the addiction. It provides specific, dedicated resources and programs for veterans who struggle with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health issues like PTSD or depression.
But we’re not the only ones who offer options for veterans in Florida. Keep reading to learn more about:
- Where and how veterans can get substance abuse help in Florida.
- The substance abuse treatments you may be entitled to through your TRICARE coverage (the healthcare program for military).
- How military service can lead to addiction.
- The prevalence of veterans’ mental health and substance abuse issues.
Veteran’s Recovery & Treatment Resources in Florida
Florida has one of the largest populations of military veterans in the nation. A variety of resources are available at a state level to help veterans interested in beginning their recovery journey.
Florida Department of Veteran’s Affairs
The Florida Department of Veteran’s Affairs is a veteran’s touchpoint for understanding many of the benefits that are available to retired military service members in the state. With locations throughout Florida, they can help you understand your health benefits and direct you to necessary services.
They also run a Florida Veterans Support Line which can be reached at 1-844-MyFLVet (693-5838) or 211.
Veteran’s Affairs at a Federal Level
Federal VA rehab/VA treatment centers offer different programs that offer help for veterans with addictions and/or co-occurring psychiatric issues like PTSD.
You can find a National VA substance abuse treatment program in your area of Florida on the VA’s substance user disorder locator, or you can call the VA’s general information hotline at 1-800-827-1000.
Federal VA substance abuse treatment programs offer:2
- Screening to help determine the appropriate level of care and to discuss your specific medical, psychiatric, and social needs.
- Medically managed detoxification, to help you safely and comfortably stop using the substance so you can begin treatment.
- Residential/inpatient treatment, which can be especially useful for veterans who live far away from the treatment center or have unstable housing. You receive 24/7 care and monitoring and live at the facility for the duration of treatment.
- Intensive outpatient treatment, a form of treatment where you live at home but attend treatment at a facility several times per week for several hours per day.
- Standard outpatient treatment, which is less intense and is usually intended for those who do not have severe or long-standing addictions. You live at home and attend treatment a few times per week.
- Aftercare, which is a form of relapse prevention to help you stay clean and sober once you’ve completed treatment.
The VA treatment programs provide medical, social, vocational, and rehabilitation therapies to eligible alcohol- and drug-dependent veterans. To qualify for this program, you need to be currently enrolled in the VA health system.
For more information and to see if you qualify, check out the Veterans Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program.3
Florida Veterans Association
Although they are not a part of the VA, the Florida Veterans Foundation is a volunteer veteran’s advocacy organization designed to provide several resources for Florida veterans. They offer several types of services, including:
- Education and outreach for suicide prevention and opioid addiction.
- Help with pensions for aging veterans and survivors of veterans.
- A Statewide Veterans Charity Registry.
- Help registering for VA benefits.
You can find them at:
Florida Veterans Foundation
The Capitol, Suite 2107
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Phone: (850) 488-4181
Office for Suicide Prevention
The Florida Office of Suicide Prevention rolls up under the Department of Children and Families. Its goal is to focus on suicide prevention initiatives such as increasing public awareness, which the organization does through several monthly events, which you can learn about on their website.
- Vets4Warriors: Dedicated to serving veterans from all generations and the entire military community, you can call or text the hotline at 1-855-838-8255, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- SAMHSA: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has a 24/7 helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for treatment referral and information. You can also use their treatment finder to locate a substance abuse treatment facility in your area of Florida.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you are in distress and thinking about harming yourself or someone else and need to talk to someone right away, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Veteran’s Affair’s general information hotline can be reached at 1-800-827-1000.
Recovery First’s Program
Recovery First’s veterans’ program, located in Hollywood, FL, addresses the specific and unique needs of veterans, especially those that have witnessed or been involved in traumatizing events. Trauma can have a severe impact on your emotional and physical well-being and your overall ability to function and can also affect patterns of substance use.
The Recovery First Veteran inpatient program consists of several components, including:
- Medical stabilization and detoxification with medical monitoring.
- Multidisciplinary assessment and testing.
- Intensive relapse prevention.
- Individual therapy.
- Family therapy.
- Group work.
- Life skills training.
- Wellness program.
You may take part in different types of therapy for veterans, including PTSD education, 12-step programs, anger management, grief and loss therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, family systems therapy, and many other forms of treatment to help address the issues that may have caused or contributed to your addiction.
River Oaks Accepts TRICARE
River Oaks, another American Addiction Centers facility, located in Tampa, FL has recently started accepting TRICARE insurance, which is the healthcare program for active-duty and retired members of the military.
TRICARE is the healthcare program of the Defense Health Agency, a component of the Military Health System. You can check your eligibility and TRICARE coverage on their website. TRICARE may cover a wide range of substance abuse treatments, such as:4
- Inpatient services (emergency and non-emergency).
- Intensive outpatient programs.
- Detoxification (management of withdrawal symptoms).
- Medication-assisted treatment.
- Mental health therapeutic services.
- Office-based opioid treatment.
- Opioid treatment programs.
- Partial hospitalization programs.
- Residential substance use disorder treatment.
Veteran Treatment Facts
With almost 1.6 million veterans as of 2016, Florida has the 3rd highest concentration of military veterans in the country.5
Since certain mental health disorders like PTSD are more common in members of the military than civilian due to the high levels of stress experienced and the unique culture of the military, it’s important to consider the benefits of treatment.
According to the National Center for PTSD, the number of veterans with PTSD varies by service era:6
- Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Approximately 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in these operations have been diagnosed with PTSD in a given year.
- Gulf War (Desert Storm). Around 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans have PTSD in a given year.
- Vietnam War. Approximately 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans were diagnosed with PTSD as of the most recent study conducted in the late 1980s, known as the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. Estimates indicate that around 30 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
One in 10 veterans have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder, which is slightly higher than the general population, according to SAMHSA.7 Among veterans who were seen for the first time within the VA health system, close to 11% meet the criteria for a substance use disorder (SUD) diagnosis.7
Rates of illicit drug use have decreased among active-duty service members. One study found that the overall prevalence of SUDs among male veterans was lower than rates among civilians when looking at all ages together.
When only male veterans aged 18 to 25 years were examined, the rates were higher in veterans compared with civilians. However, overall reported rates of illicit drug use rise when members leave active-duty service.7
Veterans who have a substance use disorder are also 3 to 4 times more likely to receive a PTSD or depression diagnosis.7 When taking gender into account, alcohol and drug use disorder diagnoses are more common among male than female veterans (10.5% current alcohol use disorders and 4.8% current drug use disorders in male veterans as compared to 4.8% current alcohol use disorders and 2.4% current drug use disorders among female veterans) and appear to be more prevalent among non-married and younger veterans.1
However, “half of military personnel have reported that they believe seeking help for mental health issues would negatively affect their military career.”7
This stigma must be combated. Service members should feel open to search out mental health help at any point during or after their career. And although these statistics can seem daunting, Florida, luckily has several resources for military veterans dealing with substance use and other mental health disorders, if you just know where to look.
- Teeters, J. B., Lancaster, C. L., Brown, D. G., & Back, S. E. (2017). Substance use disorders in military veterans: prevalence and treatment challenges. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 8, 69–77.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2015). Treatment Programs for Substance Use Problems.
- Benefits.gov. Veterans alcohol and drug dependence rehabilitation program.
- Tricare. (2018). Covered services: Substance use disorder treatment.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2016). National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018). How common is PTSD?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Substance use and military life: General risk of substance use disorders.