Serving in the military or being married to someone in the military is unlike any other typical civilian life. Some jobs involve travel and perhaps even some elements of danger, but deployment is different altogether. There are so many unknowns and uncertainties, with the fear of the serviceperson not returning home at the heart of all of those fears and uncertainties.
Despite the military’s zero-tolerance policy for substance use during deployment, it can be hard to make it through deployment without using substances. For the partner or spouse left behind, where there are no limitations on substance use, it is also difficult to make it through deployment without using substances to cope. How can you survive deployment without substances?
Finding a Way to Cope With Deployment
Military deployment brings unique stressors to individuals, spouses or partners, and families. Some of these stressors include:
- Prolonged periods of separation
- Fear for the safety of selves or loved ones
- Increased marital strain
- Spouse or partner maintaining household and family alone
- Emotional, mental, and physical health concerns for one another
- Parent absorbing stress of child(ren) regarding deployment
These stressors go above and beyond typical work or family stressors, particularly given the impending danger of military service and the rigors and structure of the military organizations. Often, there is secrecy about the location or duration of deployment, and there may be an unknown period of time that families are unable to communicate with one another. For these uncertainties alone, finding coping strategies that are effective can be very difficult for the serviceperson and their family members during deployment.
Surviving Being Married to the Military
For wives and partners of those serving in the military, they can feel isolated. Military life and deployment put exceptional stress on romantic relationships, and even the partner who is serving does not understand what it is like to be left behind. Their civilian friends may be sympathetic but cannot understand the full experience of being married to the military without having lived it.
Parents or other family members may offer support, but without being in that same situation, they cannot understand what the woman is dealing with. While she may have fellow military spouses to share these experiences with, they have their own overloaded stress levels to contend with and may not be able to offer the support that she needs.
For those women who have children to parent as well, that just adds to the layers of stress. The added responsibilities of physically caring for children are difficult enough, but emotionally, she must be prepared to help the children cope with the mental and emotional stressors of having the other parent gone.
Why Substances Are Used to Cope
Due to the tremendous amount of stress that military personnel and their spouses face with deployment, finding ways to cope with the stress can be difficult. Particularly when there are unexpected stressors, they will turn to substances to try to cope. This often results in binge drinking or heavy drinking, or the use of other substances, which can easily result in a substance use disorder. For those who are deployed, they risk a dishonorable discharge or even criminal charges for a failed drug test. For spouses or partners, they risk having their lives turned upside down by addiction as well.
Finding Help for Substance Use Disorder
Military personnel and their families can find help for substance use disorder to be able to survive deployment without substances. Finding a treatment facility that is conveniently located near military bases and accepts TRICARE, the military insurance, can make getting help more convenient for military families. Getting the help you need for addiction can help you to heal and find other ways to cope during deployment.
Finding Support During Deployment
Due to the isolation of deployment for both those serving and the spouses and partners of military personnel, reaching out for support is important to coping without using substances. There are local and online resources for spouses of deployed military personnel, and there is support available for soldiers who are serving, as well.
Surviving deployment without using substances is possible, but you will need to be willing to heal from addiction and reach out for support from those who care about you. After treatment for addiction, you learn the value of building a support network of family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, therapists, and more to be able to reach out for emotional support when you are struggling. This is even more important for those in military families to combat feelings of isolation and the increased levels of stress due to deployment.
How can I survive deployment without substances? The stressors of deployment for military personnel and their families can seem too much to bear. Coping by using substances compounds the situation and can create an addiction. Finding treatment for addiction and support during deployment can help you cope with deployment without using substances. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women is located in Costa Mesa, California, nearby multiple Southern California military bases. Our residential program offers treatment for women with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We offer trauma-informed care to military personnel and their spouses to help you feel safe in the healing process. We are authorized to accept TRICARE insurance and have experience treating military personnel and their families. You already have the tools inside you to achieve sobriety. We help you use them. Contact us today at (714) 581-3974.