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Members of our armed forces, particularly those who have been deployed in warzones, deal with many issues beyond the battlefield. Many suffer from severe post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) brought on by combat experiences. For others, merely reintegrating into society at home can be stressful and challenging. While drug use is strongly discouraged in the armed services, many veterans know that there is a general culture of acceptance of alcohol abuse. Soldiers, seamen, airmen and Marines work hard — and tend to play hard. For many vets, however, this cycle becomes an addiction and begins to affect their health and their relationships.

Holistic addiction treatment seeks to treat the person as a whole, addressing the spiritual, emotional, social and occupational factors that contribute to addiction as well as the psychological and physiological ones. Holistic treatment programs recognize recovery needs to extend to every arena of the addict’s life to be successful over the long term. It seeks to address all the factors contributing to addiction, using alternative and mainstream treatments.

Denial is a psychological defense mechanism that, in healthy doses, can help people cope with trauma, difficult circumstances or upsetting events. Addicts, however, suffer from excessive and unhealthy levels of denial that keep them from recognizing the severity of their substance abuse issues.

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Drugs and alcohol directly harm the body, but they also indirectly harm the body because of the way they affect the addict’s eating habits. People who struggle with chemical dependency tend to eat irregularly and make poor food choices when they do eat. Heavy substance abuse can also hamper the body’s ability to absorb and process nutrients from food.

Over the past decade, levels of alcohol abuse among women aged 30 to 44 have doubled, and levels of prescription drug abuse have skyrocketed by 400 percent. Substance abuse devolves into addiction for many of these women, some of whom are the mothers of young children.

Addicted women are less likely than men to seek help for their addictions. They may feel that seeking treatment will interfere with their ability to keep their households running smoothly. They may fear the consequences of asking for help more than the consequences of addiction. As a result, these women are adept at hiding their addictions, sometimes to the point where no one is the wiser until tragedy strikes.