If you\u2019re in a military family, you\u2019re keenly aware of the cost of your family member\u2019s service to the country. You may find yourself living on a military base, far away from other family and close friends. You may find yourself charged with the sole care, feeding and nurturing of your children, from infants to teens. Of course, you always have to deal with the stress your loved one\u2019s deployment brings; will the next knock at the door be the one you\u2019ve always dreaded? The significant strain of living in a military family can take a serious toll. For some, it can contribute to or exacerbate alcoholism or drug addiction -- a problem that occurs far too often in family members of veterans. Substance Abuse in Military Spouses The extended separation that comes with deployment places considerable stress on the spouse who remains at home. \u00a0The husbands and wives of military personnel are often forced to take on new responsibilities, such as managing all the finances or caring for the house. Military service takes an emotional toll as well. The spouse at home may struggle with feelings of loneliness, anger and\/or frustration.\u00a0 \u00a0The strain can contribute to depression as well, which is a major risk factor for alcohol and drug abuse. Alcoholism or drug addiction in the family may also develop after a military member returns home. While family members look forward to being reunited with their loved one, the return can be challenging. Service members often feel exhausted from their deployment. They may return with a mental health condition, such as depression or -- if they were in combat -- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). \u00a0Couples may also find themselves fighting about household responsibilities, the children, or money. \u00a0The hope that life will simply \u201creturn to normal\u201d once a deployment ends may end up shattered by the disappointment that nothing is the same \u2013 and never will be. As the spouse of someone who\u2019s in or been in the military, you will have an even greater risk of substance abuse and addiction if your relationship is a violent one. \u00a0In some cases, the violence can be intentional, such as outright verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. However, in many cases it\u2019s not.\u00a0 Veterans suffering from PTSD can also act violently as a result of the symptoms they are experiencing.\u00a0 For example, nightmares may cause them to hit their partner during sleep. Living with an abusive partner always creates significant stress.\u00a0 It can lead some desperate spouses to turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. Studies show that women who have been abused are significantly more likely to have substance abuse problems than those who haven\u2019t been abused by a partner. Many military families also find themselves taking care of an injured veteran. At least 50,000 Iraq and Afghanistan vets sustained injuries while serving. Caregiving is particularly stressful on family members. Researchers have found that caregivers in general report a lower quality of life, as well as a decreased sense of well-being. In addition, caregivers are more prone to developing depression, which, as mentioned above, is a well-established risk factor for alcohol and drug abuse. Substance Abuse in Veterans\u2019 Children Adults aren\u2019t the only family members affected by a military member\u2019s service. When a parent is deployed to combat, the situation can negatively impact the mental health of children and teens in the home. Research suggests that parental deployment raises the risk of depression, thus also increasing the risk of alcoholism and drug abuse. In fact, studies show that middle school and high school students with a deployed parent had higher rates of alcohol use, binge drinking, marijuana use, other illegal drug use, and prescription drug abuse than children in non-military families. Getting Substance Abuse Help for Yourself Find a treatment center. Addiction is a chronic and progressive disorder that requires treatment by trained addiction professionals. Consult a rehab facility to learn about your treatment options. If you are a veteran, contact your local VA medical facility; they\u2019ll be able to discuss available treatment options with you. Rehab for alcoholism and drug abuse may involve inpatient or outpatient therapy, medication if needed, and continued care in the form of addiction self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Gather support. You don\u2019t have to deal with addiction alone. Military families have a reputation for banding together in times of crisis, and an addiction is a crisis. You will benefit from the supportive relationships you can build with other men and women going through the same military life experience. Look for local groups or find a military support network online. Getting Substance Abuse Help for Loved Ones Educate yourself. You\u2019ll benefit yourself and the loved one you\u2019re trying to help by educating yourself about substance abuse and addiction. \u00a0People don\u2019t become addicts because they\u2019re weak-willed or morally bankrupt. An addiction changes the brain\u2019s chemistry, altering the way a person thinks and acts. \u00a0Learning as much as you can will help you overcome any denial or lack of knowledge that hinders you from helping a struggling family member. Find out more through an addiction recovery center or by attending groups like Al-Anon, which is a support group for family members of alcoholics. Explore treatment options. Those struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction have distorted perceptions and thought processes.\u00a0 They may be oblivious with regards to the impact their disorder has on themselves \u2013 not to mention family members and close friends. Add depression, PTSD, or another disorder into the mix and things often become even worse.\u00a0 \u00a0Contact an addiction specialist to learn the best way to go about getting your loved one into treatment. A specialist can provide talking points that will allow you to jumpstart a discussion with your family member.\u00a0 He or she may also give you a referral for a professional interventionist if necessary. Don\u2019t preach or lecture. It\u2019s painful to watch loved ones destroy themselves or others with addictive behavior, eliciting a variety of negative emotions in you. However, no matter how upset, frustrated, or angry you feel, it\u2019s crucial to avoid preaching to or lecturing.\u00a0 That approach not only doesn\u2019t work; it all-too-often backfires and makes helping them get into treatment an even greater challenge. \u00a0Find a safe, healthy outlet for your own feelings to that you can keep your emotions in check with confronting your loved one\u2019s substance abuse problem. Don\u2019t enable. Enabling a loved one\u2019s addiction is an easy trap to fall into. Enabling involves doing things that accommodate the addictive behavior and allows the person to continue engaging in it. \u00a0For example, if you call your husband\u2019s work to say he\u2019s sick and won\u2019t be in for the day - because he\u2019s too hung over - that\u2019s a form of enabling.\u00a0 Talk with an addiction specialist about ways you can say \u201cno\u201d to your loved one. Focus on your own life. Alcoholism and drug addiction consume more than the addict; \u00a0they impact everyone who loves him or her. If you feel your life is being drained by a family member\u2019s addiction, it\u2019s crucial for you to step back and attend to your own well-being. Talking to a therapist is one way to work through your feelings and find healthy ways to deal with the strain and anxiety of loving an addict. In addition, work to rebuild your emotional balance with stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, yoga, or regular exercise. \u00a0Finding a support group for military family members may also be beneficial. Don\u2019t allow alcoholism or drug addiction to steal away your life or the life of someone you love. \u00a0Reach out for help today to an addiction treatment center \u2013 preferably one that specializes in working with military personnel and their family members. After all, as part of a military family there\u2019s already been significant sacrifice.\u00a0 You and your loved ones deserve to live a life that\u2019s free from addiction.