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Veterans Need Specific Services To Overcome Addiction

Photograph of men and women standing in a line, smiling, holding copies of the report.

A new Addaction report reveals that ex-military personnel who are recovering from alcohol and drug addiction are more likely to succeed in recovery through veteran specific services.

The research on behalf of Addaction, carried out by Sheffield Hallam University and funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), looked at the work of the Right Turn project, which has been developed to support veterans who are recovering from addiction and helping them reintegrate in to civilian life.

Each year roughly 15,000 people leave the UK Armed Forces and the vast majority make a successful transition into civilian society. But an increasing number of ex-forces personnel are experiencing poor mental health, substance misuse and contact with the criminal justice sector. Poor transition is estimated to have cost the UK £98million in 2015 alone.

Addaction’s Right Turn initiative, the first of its kind in the UK when launched, is a pioneering project operating on the premise that the comradeship underpinning military life can be re-directed to support recovery from addiction and desistance from crime. Following the pilot stage, funding from FiMT and Heineken helped support the expansion of the Right Turn to 20 sites across the UK.

The veteran-specific services including a network of peer support groups led by volunteers (Vet Recovery Champions), provide a safe place where veterans can meet, share their experiences and support each other to achieve recovery.

The research looked at the impact of Right Turn and its effectiveness in supporting and assisting veterans to integrate more successfully back into civilian life.

The results established a number of positive outcomes for the veterans, with the primary finding showing that ex-military service personnel are most likely to engage positively to treatment and support services offered by others with experience of military life.

Further findings included:

  • Of those with a history of contact with the criminal justice system, all reported no further criminal justice contact since joining the project
  • Of the 39% of veterans in active addiction when joining the project, all gained addiction recovery status
  • 65% of the veterans have undertaken further education and training opportunities and are now engaged in voluntary work or paid employment
  • 78% of the veterans reported significant improvements in their relationships with family members since joining the project
  • 65% of veterans reported an increased sense of security and confidence in their management of practical, day-to-day matters, e.g. accommodation and finances
  • 86% reported an improved sense of purpose and direction in life, alongside feeling more confident about achieving their life goals

Click here to read the executive summary of the research (PDF)

Click here to read the full report (PDF)

Veterans Need Specific Services To Overcome Addiction