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Both mental and physical stress can affect those who have served our nation as members of the armed forces. The pressure of military service and combat puts veterans at an increased risk for substance abuse. Veterans who have seen combat may develop co-occurring disorders, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, in addition to the addiction to opioids, alcohol or other substances. Veteran outpatient treatment is often necessary to address these disorders and help begin the healing process.

Substance Abuse Rates

A study of 600 Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans found that 39 percent screened positive for likely alcohol abuse. Three percent of those veterans screened positive for drug use, and 14 percent showed signs of PTSD.1

Veteran Outpatient Treatment Services

Once they have returned home from service, many veterans struggle to readjust to civilian life. They may encounter financial issues, physical or psychological pain, spousal conflict or employment difficulties. These stressors can show up as emotional and psychological problems that, in turn, can lead to substance use in an attempt to self-medicate unpleasant symptoms.

Veteran outpatient treatment services are available through the Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and through private substance abuse outpatient treatment programs. The VA offers treatment services covered by veteran benefits at medical centers throughout the country.2

Often the wait times to begin treatment at some VA centers can be significant. Some clients feel that there is still a stigma attached to addiction and they might receive better care and assistance at a private veteran outpatient treatment setting.

You may opt to seek treatment on an outpatient basis in a private, more accommodating setting, rather than the VA program. You may feel that the best chance for your successful recovery from addiction lies in a veteran outpatient treatment facility that respects your privacy and dignity, and one that offers cutting-edge treatments to not only support your sobriety but also to help you lead a more productive life upon your return to society.

Veterans Insurance and Non-VA Providers

Your VA medical benefits program includes mental health and substance abuse care. Getting care from a non-VA provider requires authorization by the Non-VA Medical Care Program.3 Acquiring that authorization prior to receiving outpatient care for substance abuse is the key to processing your claims properly for veteran outpatient treatment.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the Veterans Choice Program, which lets you receive temporary health care in your community without it impacting your existing VA benefits. Using the Veterans Choice Program eliminates the need for you to wait for an opening in an outpatient clinic or to travel to a VA facility that is not near your home. You must meet certain eligibility requirements to utilize the Choice Program.

Patient-Centered Community Care programs are also available, and they work in much the same way as the Choice Program.

If you are a veteran who is struggling with substance abuse issues or co-occurring disorders, please seek the help you need to begin healing through outpatient treatment at a respected addiction recovery center.


  1. http://www.drugfree.org/news-service/active-duty-military-and-veterans-prone-to-substance-abuse-depression-and-suicide/
  2. http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/res-vatreatmentprograms.asp
  3. https://www.va.gov/purchasedcare/docs/pubfiles/programguides/nvc_providers_guide.pdf
How Insurance Works for Veteran Outpatient Treatment
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