Rehab for Veterans With Drug or Alcohol Problems

Veteran holding small American flag
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If you're a veteran dealing with a drug or alcohol problem, you should know about a VA drug rehab program that's available to you.

Veterans have been found to experience a number of difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, physical health problems and problems controlling anger. High rates of drug and alcohol use are also common among veterans, especially those with PTSD. As a result, many veterans find themselves faced with legal problems.

In response to this problem, several Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAs) across the country are teaming up with the local court system to provide veterans charged with non-violent alcohol- or drug-related offenses a second chance to get their lives back in order. Learn about this VA drug rehab program below.

PTSD, Drugs, and Alcohol — You're Not Alone

You're not alone if you're dealing with a drug or alcohol problem. It's not uncommon for veterans with PTSD to turn to drugs and alcohol. 

Here are some statistics the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has shared about veterans who are dealing with both PTSD and substance use disorder (SUD):

  • More than 2 out of 10 veterans with PTSD also have SUD.
  • War veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to be binge drinkers. Binges may be in response to bad memories of combat trauma.
  • Almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.
  • In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning soldiers seen in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.

Learning about the VA drug rehab program is a healthy step toward getting the help you need. 

How VA Drug Rehab Works

The Veterans Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program offers rehabilitation therapies, along with medical, social and vocational therapies, to alcohol and drug dependent veterans. The programs offer various forms of treatment including detoxification, rehabilitation, and psychiatric care. Treatment programs are located in the VA medical centers and clinics.

In this system, VAs work with the local court system to create Veterans Treatment Courts, which specifically target veterans charged with non-violent alcohol- or drug-related felonies. When a veteran is charged with one of these offenses, he or she is diverted to these courts, and their sentences are either delayed or replaced with inpatient or outpatient treatment provided by the VA. In addition, veterans are provided with a mentor who assists the veteran with employment, housing or other issues.

All veterans are assessed by a VA-affiliated mental health professional who will determine the best treatment program for that veteran. Throughout treatment, the veteran's progress is closely monitored by the judge and VA team to make sure that the veteran succeeds.

The goal of VA voluntary drug rehab programs is to provide the veteran with the opportunity for rehabilitation, hopefully reducing the likelihood of future drug- and alcohol-related problems.

Who Is Eligible for the VA Drug Rehab Program?

To be eligible for the Veterans Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program, you must be enrolled in the VA health care system. (Or you may qualify based on an exception.) 

Usually, your character of discharge or service must be under other than dishonorable conditions in order to receive VA benefits and services. However, the VA may make exceptions. 

The VA drug rehab program is managed by the Veterans Health Administration. You can learn more about this important program at

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Dillon KH, Crawford EF, Kudler H, Straits-Troster KA, Elbogen EB, Calhoun PS. An Investigation of Treatment Engagement among Iraq/Afghanistan Era Veterans with Problematic AngerJ Nerv Ment Dis. 2017;205(2):119-126. doi:10.1097/NMD.0000000000000651

  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. PTSD and Substance Abuse in Veterans.

  3. Justice for Vets. What Is A Veterans Treatment Court?

  4. Veterans Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program.

By Matthew Tull, PhD
Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder.