Veterans Embracing Alternate Recovery Therapies

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by Nikki Seay on 11 November 2014 in Health and Wellness, Life in Recovery | updated on 6 July 2016

For some military veterans, the emotional and mental turmoil of war is too much to take. Desperate for relief, vets by the thousands self-medicate, turning to drugs and alcohol as an escape. By participating in specialized addiction treatment programs, these warriors are provided a chance to reclaim their lives. Upon completion of a rehab program, many vets find that ongoing recovery therapies are essential for sobriety.

As the addiction treatment industry has grown and evolved, alternative and cutting-edge therapies have become commonplace. That statement certainly rings true for military veterans looking to enjoy sustainable recovery. Here’s a look at three alternative therapies helping vets stay sober in the months and years post-rehab.

Alpha Stimulation

Many vets are finding a great sense of relief by using alpha-stimulation devices. These gadgets are roughly the size of an iPhone and FDA-approved to treat anxiety, insomnia, depression, and pain – conditions all too familiar among war-exposed veterans.

Alpha-stimulation devices emit small amounts of electricity delivered via small probes attached on or behind the ears. Each session lasts for approximately 20 minutes and can be performed multiple times per week.

Researchers don’t fully understand the mechanisms involved, but generally agree that electrical currents from the device help to reestablish optimal brain chemistry and improve efficiency of neural connections. Vets like alpha-stimulation because it’s easy to use and doesn’t produce the same groggy effects of medication.

Equine Therapy

Military vets have found a reliable and therapeutic source of unconditional love through interacting with horses. Known as equine therapy, this alternative treatment has seen great success among veterans. As if by magic, horses can sense psychological problems and negative emotions the vets are experiencing and respond accordingly.

Equine therapy programs give recovering vets a new focus, allowing them to replace old and unhealthy habits with positive and productive ones. Equine therapy also teaches veterans the importance of effective communication among friends and family members. In addition, working with horses reminds these former soldiers of the importance placed on respectful assertiveness and establishing boundaries.

Botox

Yes, that Botox. Instead of using the medication for its wrinkle-reducing properties, however, vets have found Botox to be a great pain reliever. As a matter of fact, back in 2010, the Food and Drug Administration approved Botox for the use of headache prevention and treating neck pain in adults. It has also been approved to counter certain muscle spasms.

Thousands of U.S. military personnel suffer from migraines and generalized neck pain. VA doctors have traditionally opted to treat pain by prescribing highly-addictive opiate painkillers. However, once veterans are sober and grounded in recovery, going back to an opiate pain medication regimen could prove fatal. At the very least, it ensures a quick relapse.

Veterans are seeking out non-narcotic options suitable for treating chronic pain. Botulinum toxin type A (Botox) blocks the nerve signals that cause tightening of a muscle, effectively creating muscle relaxation. With Botox injections, a large portion of vets have experienced significant – and sometimes total – relief of migraine and neck pain.

 

Learn more about addiction recovery and relapse prevention.

Image Source: Army.mil/Google Images