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Co-occuring PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

Co-occuring PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

By: Joe McClain

I’m constantly amazed at the many ways craft therapy helps the veteran healing process across multiple challenges.  One of those challenges that’s seen every day by the Heal Vets team is the relationship between PTSD and Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

The VA reports that almost a third of Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also have PTSD, and 27% of veterans diagnosed with PTSD also have SUD.  This is due to some Veterans seeking to cope & “self-medicate” by drinking too much and or using drugs.   Clinicians recognize the trend and have effective treatments to treat co-occurring PTSD and Substance Use Disorder, ranging from Cognitive Processing Therapy to various medications.   It takes expertise and seeking professional help at the VA or other sources for a correct diagnosis is the right choice. 

Many of the Veterans we serve at Heal Vets have a history of both PTSD and SUD.  They find craft therapy does a lot to support the healing process and treatment they’re getting from clinicians.  The sense of creativity and accomplishment they get from completing a kit helps with PTSD/depression, and the focused time assists many veterans who are looking for something constructive to do to take their mind off a craving for a drink or drug of choice. 

 If you know or someone you know needs help, please reach out to their local VA and/or talk to a health professional.  If you think craft therapy can help your healing process, visit our PHR page to find out more.

Joe McClain

A veteran of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Naval Academy graduate with nearly thirty years of service, Joe joined the Heal Vets team as CEO in Sept 2015.  In the military, Joe served in a variety of operational command and staff positions, including numerous overseas deployments flying the carrier-based S-3B Viking aircraft. After retiring from the military, McClain served as President of the Beer Institute in Washington, D.C. As a national advocate for the brewing industry, Mr. McClain represented America’s brewers and beer importers. McClain is passionate about the veteran and military communities. A third generation service member, he knows the struggles and challenges veterans and their families face, and he is committed to improving their care, healing process and quality of life.  His son is currently on active duty with the U.S. Navy.


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