Military Sexual Trauma and Addiction

February 27, 2023
military sexual trauma

The challenging nature of military service makes veterans more susceptible to trauma than the civilian population, but these mental scars don’t always result from training or combat. Military personnel frequently experience sexual assault, harassment and other inappropriate behaviors, resulting in a pervasive condition known as military sexual trauma.

Sexual Abuse in the Military

According to the VA, unwanted sexual activity that takes place within the armed services falls into the category of military sexual trauma. MST happens throughout all branches of the armed forces and among all races, genders and ranks.

Any sexual action that occurred without your consent or when you were powerless to refuse is a form of military sexual trauma. Examples of MST include physical force, psychological manipulation, raunchy jokes and unwanted touching. While it isn’t a formal mental health diagnosis, military sexual trauma often contributes to conditions like depression and PTSD.

MST survivors often feel intense guilt, shame and isolation. They may not report what happened to them because they worry about the consequences of coming forward. Sadly, keeping the pain and fear bottled up inside can lead to significant physical and emotional consequences like these:

  • Sleep disruptions
  • Trust and intimacy issues
  • Chronic pain and stress
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Flashbacks or nightmares about the experience
  • Substance use disorders

How We Treat Military Sexual Trauma and Addiction

Often, mental and behavioral health disorders develop alongside each other in what professionals call a dual diagnosis. An effective treatment plan for military sexual trauma and addiction should be multifaceted and designed to meet your specific needs. Evidence-based therapies include:

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing 
  • Motivational interviewing

With outpatient programming at Cumberland Heights’ Clarksville recovery facility, you can participate in individual and group therapy on a more flexible schedule. By attending morning or evening meetings while you continue living at home, you don’t have to put your professional, family or academic responsibilities on hold while working on your recovery.

Request Your Assessment Today

Realizing your drinking or drug use has gotten out of control can be scary. If you want to get better but aren’t sure where to start, connect with us today. Our addiction experts can provide you with an assessment to determine the best approach for treating substance use disorders and any co-occurring mental health conditions.

Because of our community’s close connection to Ft. Campbell, we have partnered with TRICARE to help military service members and their families by offering addiction treatment covered by your insurance. Additionally, our team will work directly with the Veterans Court on your behalf.

If you are struggling with addiction related to military sexual trauma, PTSD or another mental health condition, our compassionate experts can help. Cumberland Heights has been a trusted addiction treatment provider since 1966, with a reputation of using evidence-based programming to help our clients heal and find inner peace.