Alcohol and Drug Misuse
Alcohol and drug misuse can lead to serious health, relationship, employment, and legal problems. Problematic alcohol or drug use can also lead to substance use disorders (SUD). Symptoms of SUD include tolerance, which is the ability to drink or use greater quantities over time, compulsive behavior, which is the inability to stop drinking or using in spite of negative life consequences, and withdrawal, which includes feeling sick and distressed when attempting to quit drinking or using drugs. Problems with drinking or drug use may occur in response to stress, or in combination with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, or other medical conditions. Fortunately there are proven methods to help Veterans recover from alcohol or drug misuse and SUD, including mutual help groups and effective treatment.
VHA has many resources to help Veterans and their loved ones answer questions, find support, get treatment, and recover. Please click on the tabs above to find information on some of these resources.
You may be wondering if you have symptoms of substance use disorder. One way of determining that is to take a brief confidential and anonymous screen. Only you will see the results of the brief screen. None of the results are stored or sent anywhere. You can choose to print a copy of the results for your own records or to give to your physician or a mental health professional.
VA Programs & Services
Abuse of substances such as alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, can lead to increased risk of injuries, accidents, or physical and mental health problems. Although change is difficult, you do not have to do it alone.
- VA SUD Program Locator: The program locator will help you find local VA Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment Programs.
- Effective treatments for substance use problems are available at the VA. Available treatments address all types of problems related to substance use, from unhealthy use to life-threatening addictions. The Summary of VA Treatment Programs for Substance Use Problems page provides you with information on the treatment programs the VA uses.
- Smoking and Tobacco Use Cessation: The VA’s Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards site provides information on quitting, preventing, and treating smoking and tobacco use for veterans, their families and health professionals.
- MakeTheConnection.net: Visit this site to view hundreds of stories from Veterans of all service eras who have addressed their substance use and overcome mental health challenges.
- MakeTheConnection.net is a one-stop resource where Veterans and their families and friends can privately explore information on mental health issues, hear fellow Veterans and their families share their stories of resilience, and easily find and access the support and resources they need.
- Watch video testimonials from Veterans who have found effective solutions to dealing with alcohol and drug problems, and to learn more about their experiences finding treatment and recovery.
- Opioid Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) - In an effort to prevent opioid overdose mortality, the VA developed a national OEND program to train patients on how to prevent, recognize, and respond to an opioid overdose. Below are 5 brief videos that show clinicians discussing OEND with patients and training them on the different VA national naloxone kits.
- Introduction to Naloxone for People with Opioid Use Disorders
- Introduction to Naloxone for People Taking Prescribed Opioids
- How to Use the VA Auto-Injector Naloxone Kit
- How to Use the VA Intranasal Naloxone Kit
- How to Use the VA Intramuscular Naloxone Kit
- Introduction to Naloxone for People with Opioid Use Disorders
Articles & Fact Sheets
- The Drinker’s Check-Up Article: This is an anonymous, self-guided online tool that allows you to develop a better understanding of your drinking, including any risks that it might pose to your health.
- Alcohol Screening & Counseling: Alcohol misuse does not necessarily mean being an alcoholic. The VA uses tested screening and counseling programs to help Veterans avoid the costly transition from drinking too much to developing alcohol use disorder.
- NEW > Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help: From NIAAA provides information for patients covering the latest research-based treatments and what to consider when choosing among them.
- The Rethinking Drinking web site offers valuable research-based information on drinking habits and how they may affect your health, along with support for making a change.
- The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Provides information that will help you better understand the health consequences of alcohol abuse and dependence (alcoholism).
- MedlinePlus: Provides information to help answer health questions by bringing together information from the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Finds fact sheets, videos, brochures and more within their publications section.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Features information on drug abuse, drug-related legislation, and more.
- National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month: Provides resources throughout the year that help promote the societal benefits of alcohol and drug use disorder treatment. The Substance Use and Co-Occurring Disorders Among Military and Veterans article contains information on substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, treatment, and stigmatization. The Recovery and the Military: Treating Veterans and Their Families webcast examines treatment availability and alcohol and drug addiction treatment options available for veterans and their families.
- Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous Online, Crystal Meth Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous.
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA): An international, community-based association of recovering drug addicts with more than 28,000 weekly meetings in 113 countries.
- Al-Anon/Alateen: Offers support and resources for friends and family of problem drinkers.
- Nar-Anon Family Groups: Offers support and resources for friends and family of someone with an addiction problem.
Mutual Help Organizations
Support for Family and Friends