DCoE Blog

  • Opioid Treatment: New Guidance for Providers on Risks, Recommendations
    Graphic by Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Heath & Traumatic Brain Injury

    Doctors may prescribe opioid medications to treat severe or chronic pain. But using them comes with notable risks – especially for those coping with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or substance misuse.

    The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA) recently updated clinical guidelines on opioid therapy. These guidelines recommend assessing the risks of using opioid therapy, and address concerns such as managing withdrawal, misuse and overdose in the military.

    Overdose is of particular concern for anyone who uses opioids. Certain mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and substance use disorder, present additional risk factors. One study found significantly higher rates of opioid misuse in veterans with PTSD.

     

  • 6 Ways to Avoid Isolation This Summer
    Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force by Airman 1st Class Jonathan McElderry

    Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues can leave you feeling disconnected, isolated, disengaged and lonely. Here are some ways to reconnect with yourself and others this summer:

    Engage and Reconnect

    Make time to spend with family and friends. Take a summer day trip or vacation with your family. Stay local and hang out with friends at a barbecue. The National Center for Telehealth and Technology developed the Positive Activity Jackpot app as a tool for pleasant event scheduling in your area. The app allows you to plan group activities in a simple, helpful way. Give yourself permission to leave if an event becomes overwhelming, but make the commitment to go connect for a bit.

  • Real Warriors: Roles of Family, Loved Ones in Substance Misuse
    Serviceman hugging his family.
    U.S. Army National Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Kiel Skager

    Substance misuse affects the entire family, and understanding how to cope is important. The road to recovery isn’t easy; it takes a fair amount of time and effort.

    The Real Warriors Campaign recently published an article about what to do – and not do – when you are concerned about a loved one’s substance misuse.

  • Congressional Brief: ‘We’re Making Progress, but Not Yet Claiming Victory’
    Photo of Cpt. Colston

    I recently testified in front of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel. My conversation with members of Congress offered an excellent chance to highlight our efforts to promote psychological health and to prevent, diagnose and treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the military. ...I shared many of our accomplishments with the committee and I want to share a few with you below. I believe they reveal the important advances we made, provide an understanding of where we should target future research, and encourage more investments in medical research.

                  

  • DVBIC Podcast Looks at Substance Use after TBI
    Bottle of liquor.
    Photo courtesy of II Marine Expeditionary Force

    Army Capt. Daniel Hines knew something was wrong with his friend. Normally a model soldier and enthusiastic recruiter for the Army, the friend was now complaining of burnout, acting irritable and getting into bar fights.

    “If there hadn’t been an intervention, I believe he would have just spiraled out of control,” Hines said. “He would have been arrested; he would have ruined that stellar career he had.”

    Hines’ friend had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) following several blast exposures. He began struggling with TBI and substance abuse. This dangerous combination was the focus of a recent episode of The TBI Family, a podcast series by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC).

  • Celebrate Good Times! No Luck, Charms or Alcohol Required
    DoD photo by Cpl. Khoa Pelczar

    Unless you’ve been hiding under the Blarney Stone, you’ve seen the shamrocks — St. Patrick’s Day is upon us. In America, many adults celebrate the holiday with Irish jigs, witty toasts — and a lot of alcohol. But, if you are coping with posttraumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury (TBI) you may want to pass up that pint of green beer.

    Many trauma survivors use alcohol to relieve pain and other symptoms, but the relationship between combat stress and substance use is counterproductive and can be dangerous. And drinking alcohol with a TBI can complicate your injury or delay recovery.

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