Drug Rehab For Veterans
Sam Huss is with RehabSpot, an organization that helps people struggling with addiction get back on the road to recovery.
Sam has an important message for those who are struggling with addiction. He wants you to know that it is possible to get help for your addiction. And just because one treatment option didn't work for you in the past, doesn't mean you should quit trying to find help. There are plenty of options available from inpatient, outpatient, 12 step programs, spiritual healing, and more.
Also, for family members and loved ones of those who are struggling with addiction, he has an important message for you too. It's all too easy to start with accusations "we could have done this if you weren't drinking so much". But it doesn't help. Actually, it will most likely cause the addicted to shut down and not seek help, even if they know they need it.
Links & Resources
Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I'd like to ask a favor. If you haven't done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. If you've already done that. Thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you're there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don't use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcasts.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our emails. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let's get on with the show.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:46 Hi everyone. Today my guest is Sam Huss. Sam is the community outreach specialist with Rehab Spot and Rehab Spot helps people who are struggling with addiction and their families to find the information in the support and resources that they need in order to get help. So, Sam, welcome to the show. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and what Rehab Spot does?
Sam Huss: 01:09 Sure, absolutely. As you said, my name is Sam. I do community outreach across the country and even further than that. The main goal of Rehab Spot is to offer information about a topic that generally people don't discuss often or at least not often enough as people should. Our goal is to offer every single aspect of drug and alcohol use, addiction and treatment to as many people as possible. That's the glory of the internet. Having an open access web guide is for anybody. Of course, with the nature of drug and alcohol addiction, it's not necessarily something that's always talked about and especially with the people that are affected by it. So that's part of our premise that it is best to offer these things on the internet so that anybody can access them whenever they need.
Sam Huss: 02:04 It's a guide and is meant for everybody but the main focus is particular demographics that are usually affected by addiction. This is a widespread, usually it's people who have difficulty accessing treatment. This can be obviously from the stigma alone or financial difficulties. Some people are in positions that might be compromised by having an addiction issue. For example, like first responders, firefighters, police, EMS, all those types of professions tend to have really high stress levels. And there's actually, for example, there is a major trend of alcoholism in firefighters. Just as an example. Those people might not be so inclined to approach getting help on these types of things. Because it's not an easy thing to face, needless to say, going to cost time and costs energy; it's going to cost money more often than not.
Sam Huss: 03:03 So it's definitely not easy. But that's the idea. We want to try and familiarize all these things. We try and provide this information for probably centuries now there's been street information and street smarts and stuff like that about these different substances. So that is another one of our goals is to offer facts completely unbiased, reliable facts on all of these things. Again to fight the stigma of it. We try to approach people who might have mental illnesses. There is a big section on our website that talks about recurring disorders and how different things like anxiety or PTSD with veterans for example, manic depression, various different disorders and conditions are affected by using drugs and alcohol. We try to reach out to those people as well. High rates of addiction and abuse such as with homeless communities is a very big thing with impoverished. Impoverished demographics and we try to reach out to generally anybody that might be affected by it or even a family member that's concerned about maybe their cousin's alcohol use or their mother's drug use for something like that. We tried to make the goal of Rehab Spot to make every bit of this topic available to anyone that might need it.
Scott DeLuzio: 04:25 That's a great mission to have because like you said, there's some people who are not willing to just go out and start talking to people about it and tell everyone about their problem. Even though they may recognize the fact that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
Sam Huss: 04:41 It's stigmatized and yet almost everybody knows about it. And yet still it's 2020 and still people have this huge weight on their shoulders about it. But it makes a big difference to make it a widespread topic. Like mental health has become finally a big contemporary topic in America and this is a part of it.
Scott DeLuzio: 05:05 Exactly. I was reading through your website RehabSpot.com and it says there's a section that says veterans suffer from a higher rate of drug addiction than the general population. Why is that? What is it that's special about veterans or maybe unique about them and perhaps it's more than just veterans, maybe like you've mentioned before, first responders and things like that? Maybe we're in a larger category but what is it about veterans in particular that that makes them a little bit more susceptible to the addiction aspect?
Sam Huss: 05:47 Well with veterans in particular, we've found that they are a demographic that faces a perfect storm of conditions that more often have a high tendency to addiction. It's mostly three things, comes down to stress, obviously being in the services in any sort of listed service is a very stressful thing. There's a lot of responsibilities. Not only that, but there is after your responsibilities when you come back transitioning into civilian life it’s obviously day and night have a difference. So, a lot of veterans have trouble acclimating to either their responsibilities for switching back into normal life and a lot of them will use substances to sort of cope and situate themselves into these conditions. A lot of the time the veterans will have open access to a lot of these things, which is a very big problem as well.
Sam Huss: 06:45 Well obviously any veteran and can access the VA. But really all you have to do is say something as simple as PTSD. They'll prescribe you Xanax, they'll prescribe you sleeping pills, because yes, there are a lot of injuries and illnesses that comes from serving. And so, there's a very quick trigger to prescribe hydrocodone for a leg sprain that you might've had during the service. And a lot of that can snowball very, very easily. Especially because veterans are very often left alone. I mean, of course they still have access to government programs to help with care and health care and everything like that. But generally speaking, it's very unfortunate a lot of veterans are left on the wayside after they have done their part.
Sam Huss: 07:38 As I was saying with homeless communities, there is a strong correlation between veterans and homelessness. Veterans from recent Wars or veterans from Vietnam, anything. It's just a very, very strong correlation. So along with the health problems that they will have in general after serving it just has a combination of different dimensions where an answer to each one of those dimensions is use drugs or use alcohol. It's not necessarily that it's alcohol, it's obviously a very common thing, even in the service it can be a very common thing to drink with your comrades and everything like that. But it's ignored about how that can affect someone in the long run. But there's just different things. All these different combinations of factors with veterans in particular. That is the reason why we see so much addiction with people who have served. But it's very unfortunate. And like I said, it can be widely ignored by veterans themselves even.
Scott DeLuzio: 08:46 Sure. Absolutely. Okay, so, let's say there's a veteran out there who is suffering from addiction of one substance or another and actually it doesn’t even have to be a veteran, right? It could be anyone that's addicted to something. What are some of the things that family members or friends, coworkers, other loved ones can do to encourage that person to go and get help if they're recognizing that there's a problem or discovering that they're using drugs that maybe they shouldn't be using, maybe abusing stuff that they were prescribed for an injury and they're continuing to take it long after the injury has been healed or whatever. Or they're drinking in excess night after night after night. Things like that. These people can't go and hog tie the person and force them into a treatment facility or anything. So, what are some practical things that they can do to go and help encourage them to go and get help?
Sam Huss: 09:46 Well, the chief important thing is the understanding of the situation. It's very well, I wouldn't say easy. It is difficult to approach these things just because it is so sensitive but it's very easy to approach someone that you care about with accusations or blaming it on this or that. But the absolute most important thing when you have a concern about a family or friend is understanding the situation. And it can be very hard to spot that there is a situation, there's a couple of different obvious indications, their physiology, they might not look healthy, they might have different sleeping patterns, mood shifts, things like that. But it is most easy to tell when there's a problem. If you notice it interrupts their daily activities in any sort of way, whether it's work or chores or just around the house, things you start noticing things like that are awry, then it's not necessarily a surefire thing that they have an addiction problem, but you know, it might indicate that you can approach that.
Sam Huss: 10:54 You always want to approach it with compassion. You don't want to accuse him of anything because as with the stigma of drug addiction, they'll very quickly shut down and put up a brick wall and then it just compounds the problem even further. So, you definitely want to be cautious, even to the tone of it, you want to approach it very softly and delicately. You don’t want to sugarcoat it. You have to be realistic about the situation. We've got to be mindful about how the other person is feeling. You want to be supportive about the whole thing. You don't want to say, Oh, you're addicted to heroin, that's bad. So you have to stop. You have to justify it with things like, I'm worried about you. I want you to do well. I am concerned that this, your behavior is affecting other parts of your life rather than I don't want you to be addicted. Just sort of give them some perspective on how it's affecting you and your friends and your family, anything like that. But you want to make a note. It's because I care about you. That's the only reason. And you have to genuinely mean it too. You can't just say it, you have to care about the person.
Scott DeLuzio: 12:05 Yeah. And you know, that all makes sense too because tying back to what you first said about some of the reasons that veterans are more susceptible to the fact that they're being more likely to be addicted. One of the first things you said was the stress of the job. If you go and you add more stress onto the situation with an accusation or just start berating the person and saying, Oh, how could you do this and all that type of stuff that's potentially just adding more stress to the situation, which is probably going to make the situation even worse because they found a coping mechanism to deal with the stress, which is using the drugs or whatever that they're addicted to and then they're going to continue to do that because now there's this added level of stress.
Sam Huss: 13:07 It's very autonomous when it comes to that. And then the psychology of a person who is addicted to a substance, it's very self-dependent and they don’t want to have to turn to external sources or it definitely just compounds the problem. But it's very difficult to do there. Matter of fact, we have on Rehab Spot, we have a page is called family, but the entire topic of it is how to approach the whole situation. There's four different sections of it going all the way from how you can tell to how to support them after the rehab process. But there's a large section strictly because it is very difficult to handle the whole thing. It does constitute a guide in order of how to do it. It's the only reason it's so important is because it is so sensitive. It's like you said, it could go spiraling off in the opposite direction way too quickly.
Scott DeLuzio: 14:03 Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, a lot of people are basically trying to self-medicate and they want to handle this on their own. I think that comes from the culture too of a lot of times in the military it's, just suck it up and be a man
Sam Huss: 14:22 Exactly. I was about to say those three words. That's typical behavior. That's the general, I'm conscious of it. It is a very rough environment, needless to say. So, it's like I said, people are used to internalizing that.
Scott DeLuzio: 14:38 And so, you're telling people all along, suck it up, suck it up, suck it up. And so, they do, and then they realize that they have no place to turn to get help and talk to people or whatever. And so, okay, now I have to figure this out on my own.
Sam Huss: 15:00 You have to be so mindful of their context and where they're standing with things, because it's not necessarily a reaching statement, but it's generally safe to assume that if you're approaching someone who has an addiction problem, they probably got a lot more going on in terms of the topic. They have a lot on their plate and it's not easy for them to address either.
Scott DeLuzio: 15:21 Sure. No, and I'm sure it's a big topic. It's a difficult topic. There's a lot of stigma around it even though I don't really think there should be, if you have a problem, any sort of problem, you go in and get help for it.
Sam Huss: 15:40 Everybody has problems. It's about 45% of people who have a substance use disorder have some sort of other problem. Like whether it's their mental health or their physical condition, there's some other problem that adds to it. But that's the thing. Every single different person has their own set of problems. It's just a matter of how they handle it.
Scott DeLuzio: 16:06 Yeah, exactly. So, we've gotten our loved one who's addicted to something to accept the fact that they need some help. We've gone through the steps that you were talking about. Understanding the situation, talking to them because we care about them and we want them to get help. We don't like seeing them struggling on their own to get through this. So, maybe they've gotten into a program and they're starting to get treatment or they're seeing someone to get that type of help. So, could you walk us through that process that they might go through to get to an eventual successful recovery? I know that process is going to be different for everyone. Generally speaking, there probably is a path that's more likely to be successful than others.
Sam Huss: 17:04 Yes, definitely. There's a bunch of different pathways but there are a couple of different parts to all the different options that make them effective. First is to have, it's hard to fully digest this one, but the person that's going into treatment has to know that it's possible rather than getting inundated with all the details of it and how difficult it might be. It's better to know and keep in mind that it is possible. Even though it's difficult, people have hundreds of thousands of people have been able to recover and they've been sober for months or years or decades. So it's throughout the entire process there's going to be a lot of trials and tribulations. It's most important to keep in mind that it is possible, just takes time and effort. It's also important to consider all your options ahead of time.
Sam Huss: 17:58 It's like you said, there are various different paths to treatment but not all of them are going to fit every single person. There's inpatient, there's outpatient, there's different types of therapies, art therapy, there's EMDR therapy. There's 12 step programs, of course but it's definitely important to consult with every single different type of treatment to get an idea of what might work best with you. They actually have a section called treatment on rehabspot.com. It talks about all the different types of treatment that are out there, spiritual treatment, ones that might focus on a particular faith and there's spiritual treatment of both, some things like yoga, but it's just very important to consider every single one of them. That being said, as you're talking about with highest rate of success with treatment. Across the board, inpatient treatment tends to be the most successful and it is primarily because it's a more controlled environment. There's plenty of different treatments where you can do it from home or do with the group or anything like that but there's just high tendency of relapse or not sticking with the program. And these treatment programs are in place for a reason.
Sam Huss: 19:21 Yeah. So, if you fully control the environment helping you every single day for a schedule of recovery, then it's just a higher success rate completely across the board for that. So that tends to be the most helpful of all of them. When you are in treatment, it usually helps to connect with those around you, whether it's the counselors that are helping you or other patients that are in there for this for a similar thing like you, a lot of substance users tend to internalize things and it's not easy for them to externalize things or rely on people around them or sources around them. So, it helps to connect with the people in treatment around you just because you might realize some similarities. It might make you realize some things about yourself based on their situation.
Sam Huss: 20:16 So, it's good to reach out to what is around you. That's why all those resources are there, especially within an inpatient program. Just use everything that you have to your advantage. Another helpful thing is after treatment to seek out some sort of support group. Of course, there are 12 step programs, almost anything anonymous by now. I think all types of support groups, there's plenty of different meetings for people who have been in that type of thing. Obviously, relapses are a very real possibility for anyone who's gone through treatment. And it's not necessarily like they're going to stay with the same group everyday of their lives. I'll make sure I don't relapse again. But just communicating and collaborating on those sorts of things. And it helps you figure out what works best for you or little tricks that might keep you from maybe falling into the same path.
Scott DeLuzio: 21:16 Well, that's good. I like hearing about the steps that they can take both from the family members of the loved ones or people close to that person who's addicted but also knowing that there is a path that they can take that has been done before. They're not treading in unchartered waters. They're not blazing their own trail and everything. If you look at the people who've been addicted to various substances, they're not rising up and achieving all these great things because they're having the struggle that they're trying to work through. But the people who do overcome the addictions, those are the people who have the potential to go out and achieve these great things. And so, there's some hope there. If you're feeling like your life's a mess and all these things are wrong and your job sucks.
Sam Huss: 22:28 It is easy to get bogged down with all of the details. But you have to keep the hope alive. When it comes to recovery. It's really just a bunch of steps. It's just multiple successes, things that you have to do in order to reach an end goal. So, technically speaking, it's not necessarily difficult to figure out. It's just a matter of having to do it. It's scientific. Anatomically speaking, it is an incredibly difficult thing. You have a brain imbalance. Once you've put a substance into your body to the point where it has a dependence, it's very difficult. But doing something like keeping hope alive and staying well-informed and connecting to those around you will make it that much easier. Absolutely. But like we said, most people don't have any awareness of this whatsoever. It's very daunting. We have a section called the treatment process and it goes all the way from consulting and the admission process to post treatment and all of those things. So, it's not necessarily a super complex thing. There's just a lot of steps to it and you just have to know how to approach it for your own situation.
Scott DeLuzio: 23:39 Right. And another thing that I've found it interesting with addiction topic is the topic of or the idea of your surroundings and the people who you associate with and the neighborhood that you live in possibly. And the people that are around you could play a role in the addiction that you might have. We had a guest on the show a few months ago who was talking about how very toxic relationships that he had in his hometown with his family and his friends and stuff. And it led them to some bad situations. And he wound up deciding that he just needed to get away from it all because he didn't want his life to go down that path. He saw where some of his friends were going and where other relatives and things were and that's not the life that he wanted for himself. And so, he moved a whole state away. It wasn't just like he moved the next town over, he just packed up and moved and it was not an easy transition. He suffered homelessness and he had other issues. He was still battling with but he's running a very successful business now and he's married, has kids, has a nice home and everything like that. And he's doing better.
Sam Huss: 25:08 That's incredible for him. He's one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately, this is so easy to become a product of your environment with situations all the way down to toxic relationships. We have an entire section on Rehab Spot talking about the effect of domestic violence addiction. And because the whole situation, product, the environment, hard to stand up and do something about it. It's the environment isn’t very easy to escape, especially if it's your family and your friends definitely wanted the lucky ones to get out of that.
Scott DeLuzio: 25:38 Yeah. I think it's important for people to know that it's possible. You know, some people feel like, Oh, well I'm in this relationship, or Oh, I can't disrespect my parents or whatever.
Sam Huss: 25:54 And that's that. And then they just never tried to approach it.
Scott DeLuzio: 25:57 Exactly. And so they never attempt to get out of that situation. And it's like if that's what's weighing you down and that's what's keeping you from getting better and becoming the person that you're meant to be, then you might need to do something about that and change scenery. There's a study that I was reading about in, I can't remember the book now. I'm going to have to figure that out and I'll put it in the show notes. There was a study that I was reading about soldiers who were in Vietnam and who were getting addicted to all sorts of different drugs that were available to them while they were in Vietnam. They did some studies on them and they said as far as we know, as soon as you're addicted to these drugs, there's no hope, you're basically going to be addicted for life.
Scott DeLuzio: 26:49 But once when they came back home, it was a staggering number. It was like 75 or 80% of the people who were addicted to drugs while in Vietnam when they came back home, back into their families, back in their neighborhoods that they came from and all this stuff, they got away from the drugs and they weren't doing the drugs the way they were doing it while they were in Vietnam because it was readily available. They are around a bunch of other people who were just as stressed as they were. They were all looking for a way to relieve that stress and they were coming up with unhealthy ways to relieve the stress by doing that. But then they came back home and they didn't have their neighborhood drug dealer who was available for them. And so, the availability of the drugs was harder to get access to. I'm not going to say it's impossible because I'm sure it was if they really sought it out. But they also had the support network of people who were there, their wives and their parents and their other family members who were around who were able to help them out with that. And so, the value of changing scenery is potentially lifesaving.
Sam Huss: 28:10 Yes. It definitely can be. Sometimes it's a little more difficult than that just because in some situations when they all are in active duty, sometimes the drugs are incredibly abundant over there. It's actually a considerable fraction of veterans with addiction problems. That's where it came from. The example in some of the Wars in the early 2000s, American soldiers were administered dextroamphetamine, which is, you know, it is speed, stimulants were administered on duty and it's speed, it is a couple of molecules away from crystal meth. So, it is addictive and these people are administered it while they're working, while they're doing their job. And then it's like, okay, well thank you for your services. And then what are they left with? They're like a speed addiction more or less. It's a very, very real thing.
Sam Huss: 29:07 Also, there is the situation of prescribing opioid painkillers for injuries, whether it's for long-term prescription for chronic pain or whether it was a blast that happened a few feet away from you. And here's something to kill the pain. In the meantime, either way, opioids are very slippery slope. About 80% of contemporary heroin users started by using a legal pharmaceutical. So it is a very, very difficult thing. But that's the thing, a lot of these veterans are very directly being fed some of these drugs and in situations where they might not necessarily be able to say no. And then after the smoke clears, quite literally what are they left with an addiction, go back home, get back to your civilian life, here's an opioid addiction. You know, it's a very unfortunate thing. Like I said, a lot of spinnerets tend to just get left on the wayside unfortunately to deal with these things by themselves, which really nobody can deal with this type of thing by themselves.
Scott DeLuzio: 30:14 This has really been a lot of really great information. Is there anything else about Rehab Spot or addiction in general that you wanted to add that you wanted anyone to know about?
Sam Huss: 30:26 The only thing I can recommend, whether someone listening is dealing with maybe an addiction or they know someone who is, the first, the most important thing is to just take the first step. I mean, it doesn't have to necessarily be approaching yourself or the person with the problem but just educate yourself. Use the resources that are available to you. That's the primary function of rehabspot.com is to offer this information to the people that might need it. It's so easy. I mean, the internet is a glorious thing. It's able to be accessed by a majority of the population now and to have access to all of this information. It can be very enriching. It can be priceless in the right situation. The main thing that I would have to say is just take the first step. Educate yourself, look up a couple of things. There are so many different complexities to addiction, science of it and the recovery, so just educate yourself. Don't be afraid to look out information, seek out the right sources of information in order to approach these things. It's so easy to just let it fall on the wayside and then the next thing you know, we have an overdose or worse fatality. It's always just important to take that very first step to figure out what is going on.
Scott DeLuzio: 31:41 Absolutely. Taking that first step. Sometimes it can be scary. Sometimes it could feel like it's hard to do but in the long run it'll be totally worth it and you'll be better off for it. So Sam, thank you for your time. Where can people go to learn more about Rehab Spot?
Sam Huss: 32:00 Go to RehabSpot.com. It's pretty simple to navigate from there. Along the top, the bunch of different sections and with those are different subsections. For example, if you go to a search function. If you search a veteran on RehabSpot.com you'll be met with four different pages. We have a page that talks about drug use with veterans, alcohol use of veterans, benzodiazepine use and opioid use. Just because those four things are very particular commonalities with veterans. But yeah, just go to rehabspot.com and it's very easy to click through. Everything's very, very accessible.
Scott DeLuzio: 32:39 Great. And I'll link to all of that in the show notes as well. And I see you guys have some social media accounts too, so I'll put those in the show notes so people can easily follow there and get in touch with you guys should they need it or look up the information that they need it. So, thanks again. I always think the right information in the right place can really change lives. Thank you.
Sam Huss: Absolutely. All right. Thank you so much, Scott.
Scott DeLuzio: 33:11 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com we're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at DriveOnPodcast.
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