This study aimed to understand the experiences and needs of families that include a veteran with a substance use problem (FVSUs). The study considers how these families differ from the families of non-veterans with substance use problems and uses the findings to develop a new model of support for FVSUs.
The full report of this research is also available.
A model of support has been produced from the research findings.
The findings show that veterans with substance use problems often have multiple, additional, complex and severe problems, such as mental health (with PTSD frequently mentioned), financial difficulties, finding employment, homelessness, criminal behaviour, and physical health problems. Participants saw associations between the substance use and other problems, and experiences during service, including involvement in war. Overall, support for substance use problems during service seemed limited, with unhelpful experiences more commonly reported and the response to drug use particularly criticised. Participants said that veterans accessed a variety of help for their substance use after leaving the Armed Forces, but that there are many barriers which veterans can experience in accessing help. Family involvement can be a facilitator of success, and also beneficial to families, but was rarely mentioned. Overall, there are many challenges to supporting veterans with substance use problems, and many barriers which affect their engagement with support, and these can place a greater burden on families.
Lloyd, C., Templeton, L., Stebbings, R. and Evans, V., 2020. Fighting Their Own Battle: Families of Veterans with Substance Use Problems. Executive summary prepared for the Forces in Mind Trust.