Military chiropractic deals with substance abuse for chronic pain and other problems, and saves lives with non-drug treatment

More than 6,000 military veterans lose their lives to suicide each year. The 2019 National Annual Suicide Prevention Report shows that the suicide rate for veterans is 150% higher than that of adults who have never served before. Military chiropractic deals with these stats fueled by substance abuse and saves lives with non-drug treatment.

According to another study published in March 2020, the answer could be, at least in part, regular chiropractic care.

Chiropractic in the military: study shows reduced risk of suicide

This study was published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine and included 142,539 active service members of the Army who presented with chronic pain after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2008 and 2014. Some of the participants received non-pharmacological treatments such as chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, and exercise therapy. Others were involved in drug-based forms of care.

After analyzing the data, researchers found an association between military chiropractic care and other forms of non-drug military care and a lower incidence of self-inflicted injuries, thoughts of suicide, and attempted suicide.

This is important as previous research shows that chronic pain is the most common condition among Army soldiers who use the multiple trauma system of care within a year of deployment. Polytrauma indicates an injury to several parts of the body and systems, for example when a soldier is in an explosive device.

Chiropractic combined with reduced drug use

This study also found that active duty members involved in non-pharmacological treatments had lower levels of alcohol and drug disorders. They had fewer cases of accidental drug poisoning from opioids, related narcotics, barbiturates, and sedatives.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs states that more than 1 in 5 veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have substance use disorder. In addition, those who struggle with alcohol often suffer from a high, which consists of consuming 2-5 alcoholic beverages over a period of 1 to 2 hours.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine adds that synthetic opioid and heroin overdoses in veterans have “increased significantly” in recent years. Using chiropractic care in the military and finding ways to relieve chronic pain without the use of this category of medication can potentially help reverse this upward trend.

Treatment of veterans

Regular chiropractic care for experienced patients can reduce the risks associated with suicide and drug or alcohol use in chronic pain. Let them know of the connection to give hope that there are alternative treatment options. Let them know about all the benefits of chiropractic treatment, which includes:

  • increased joint mobility;
  • improved immunity;
  • better sleep and overall health.

You can do this one at a time every time you deal with an active or inactive service agent in your office. Another option is to hold a veterans workshop or seminar in your area. Discuss chronic pain and its effects. Provide home exercises that they can do to relieve pain or discomfort in the back or neck. Encourage them to develop consistent chiropractic treatment to amplify that relief.

Address the mental health of U.S. military patients

When speaking to veterans about their physical health, it may be found that their mental health has also been affected by the service. You may experience depression, anxiety, or have been previously diagnosed with PTSD.

There are several organizations that can help address these types of mental health problems. Best known is the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). If the service representative has not contacted this agency, you can search for the nearest VA location online. Provide the patient with this information and encourage them to come back.

The VA website also has an area devoted to veteran training. This page provides users with information on how to better manage their anger and irritability. It also offers suggestions on how to improve sleep and tips on being the best parent they can be.

If the veteran owns a smartphone, they may want to download an app that will help them cope with the challenges of civilian life after a deployment. Options available include the PTSD Coach App, a Tactical Breather App, and a Mood Tracker App. The North Carolina Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide has a list of available apps that you can print out and share with experienced patients.

Alternatively, some service staff may find it more convenient to consult with a local therapist. By networking with mental health professionals in your area, you can create a list of experts to turn to if they want someone to speak to. Sometimes just knowing that you care is enough to convince veterans to seek help when they need it.