Alcohol and other drugs are often used in response to stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges. VA has many treatment options to help Veterans recover from substance use.

September is Suicide Prevention Month and Recovery Month. Aug. 29 to Sept. 4, 2021, was Overdose Awareness Week. This is a great time to seek help with drinking or other substance use.

Recovery is possible

Reaching out to people you trust can be healing. If you or someone you know is experiencing trouble with alcohol or other substances, treatment can work. VA is working quickly to share VA resources, call center information, peer support and other community services.

VA is committed to supporting treatment for Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

SUD, often referred to as “addiction,” is a treatable disease that causes people to have difficulty controlling their use of alcohol, drugs and other substances, including opioids.

Untreated, this use can begin to impact many aspects of life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can impact substance use and vice versa.

Lean on your Veteran community and reach out to VA to learn more about what is available.

PTSD is a treatable mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident or sexual assault.

PTSD treatment works and includes different types of psychotherapy (talk therapy) or medication. For Veterans with PTSD and problem drinking, VetChange is a mobile app that can help them build skills to address both issues.

With a dramatic rise in drug overdoses, VA urges you to learn more about how to stop overdose.

VA has a robust opioid overdose prevention program, with naloxone – a medication that reverses opioid overdose – available at no cost to VA patients at-risk for overdose. Ask your provider if naloxone is right for you.

Additional VA resources

  • Treatment locators

Community Resources

Bottom line: Support is available if you want it. Even if none of these resources appeal to you, get help. Talk about it with someone; try something new.

If you are struggling, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Don’t be afraid to lean on your Veteran community and please consider reaching out to VA if you would like to learn more about what is available.

We’re here for you.

Find more on common reactions and tips for managing stress at our blog post, Coping with current events in Afghanistan.

By Aimee Johnson is a program analyst for the Suicide Prevention program. Dr. Elizabeth Oliva is coordinator of VA’s National Opioid Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution, VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

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Published on Sep. 16, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.9 min.

Views to date: 464


  1. CJ September 23, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    I read the two posts regarding pain meds being cut off. The VA did the same thing to me. The pain clinic at Las Vegas told me that I’m 1. Too young, and 2. Not sick enough (i.e., cancer) to be on narcotics. Funny, when i was eight years younger the exact same VA was sending me hundreds of morphine and OxyCodone every month! my pain wasn’t nearly as bad than since I’ve been in multiple accidents and sustained new injuries since then…

    • Veterans Health Administration September 27, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      Hi CJ, we want to make sure that you are receiving care that is effective for you. If you are receiving VA care, please let your provider know if there are any issues with your current pain management plan. You can also reach out to your local VA patient advocate if you have concerns about your care. The Veterans Crisis Line is also available 24/7 if you’re having any struggles with coping currently (call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1; you can also text 838255 or chat online at Thank you for your service to our country.

  2. Joshua Thomas September 23, 2021 at 8:54 am

    Ooh Rah!!

  3. Morgan Godvin September 17, 2021 at 9:59 am

    How much to did tapering veterans off of their medically necessary pain medications contribute to increases in overdose and suicide?

    • Veterans Health Administration September 27, 2021 at 12:51 pm

      Morgan, chronic pain, mental health conditions, and addictive substances interact in complex ways to put people at risk for overdose and suicide. Narcotic pain medications may increase or decrease risk in different ways for different people and the way that medications can interact with risk can change over time. We all wish we had the answer to the question that you asked and that we could predict the future when making decisions on whether to continue use of narcotic pain medications. At this time scientists, clinicians, ethicists, pharmacologists, and many other disciplines are trying to answer this question and do their best to keep patients safe while we struggle with many unknowns. If you or anyone you know is struggling or in crisis related to pain, substances, mental health, or anything else, please encourage them to contact 1-800-273-8255, they can Press 1 if they are a Veteran and can also text 838255 or chat online at

  4. Don Lynch September 16, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    You knowingly stopped my pain medication and left me to turn into a useless human being. Some pain is chronic. You cannot treat us like dogs. We need our medication started back.

    • Veterans Health Administration September 27, 2021 at 12:50 pm

      Don, I’m so sorry that you’re having trouble with your pain management. We want to make sure we get you back into care that is effective for you. Please reach out to your local VA for an appointment (patient advocates can also be helpful when you have concerns about your care). If you’re struggling with coping currently, please contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 (you can also text 838255 or chat online at: The Veterans Crisis Line can also help you connect with VA services as needed. Thank you for your service to our country.

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