News

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • To Drink or Not to Drink: Have a Plan
    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Jiang

    Parties and special occasions usually involve games, music and alcoholic beverages. They are times of festivity and fun. For someone concerned about alcohol intake or battling substance abuse, social events may seem threatening. But it is possible to participate in activities that include alcohol.

    Get the Facts about Risky Drinking

    The first step to understanding your alcohol limits is to know the facts, signs and symptoms about alcohol abuse. The Deployment Health Clinical Center gives examples of alcohol misuse and facts about risky driving:

    • Drinking more or for a longer time than you intend
    • Continuing to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious
    • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when you don’t drink

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