How Alysa built a new life
Millions of people in the U.S. have issues with both their Mental health and using drugs or alcohol. Alysa is one of those people.
Alysa is a great friend. served her country. loves helping her community.
But she felt depressed and anxious, And her drinking had become unsafe-and unhealthy.
Until she got treatment.
Alysa is an Army Veteran who served for over 8 years and was stationed around the world. She left the military about 2 years ago and is having a hard time adjusting to civilian life. She misses the structure of her old life. She doesn't know what to do next and has been having a hard time finding a meaningful job. Overall, she's feeling hopeless and having a hard time eating and sleeping.
To help her sleep, she starts drinking. Little by little, she starts drinking more, and earlier in the day. Within months, she can't miss a day without a drink or she feels sick. One day while driving, she almost runs off the road. That moment scares her so much.
Alysa decides she can't go on this way. It's time to take control of her life again. She reaches out to her old Army friend, Jon, for help.
Preparing for treatment
Alysa's friend Jon tells her about all the services and support the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers. She asks him for help signing up for VA health benefits.
Once her benefits are approved, she has an online appointment (telemedicine) with her new primary care provider. Alysa explains that she signed up for VA health care because she really needs help for her drinking, depression, and anxiety. Her new doctor takes her seriously and realizes how severe Alysa's drinking has become. Because Alysa is drinking so much and lives far away from treatment centers, the doctor refers Alysa to a residential program, where she will live while she safely stops drinking.
Alysa is able to start treatment in 2 weeks. She's very anxious about it and thinks about not going, but with the support of Jon, she decides to go.
After completing the residential program, Alysa returns home and starts figuring out her new normal. The VA connects her with a support group of other Veterans dealing with alcohol use. Through this group, she connects with local Veterans who understand her experience and how hard it is to adjust to civilian life. The connection makes her feel less alone.
Alysa joins a group of Veterans who volunteer once a week at the local food bank–she loves helping the community and realizes that part of what she misses about her military life is teamwork and giving back. It helps her think of new jobs she wants to explore.
Part of Alysa's treatment is to see a counselor regularly. She's seeing someone that the VA will cover, but she can't help feeling like the counselor doesn't get her. She doesn't want to quit counseling because it's really helping her not relapse. She's anxious to tell her counselor that she doesn't feel like it's working, but she does it. The counselor understands, says it's a normal part of the process, and offers to make recommendations for others who may be a better fit.
Not giving up
Alysa calls the counselors that were recommended. After calling 2 who aren't taking new patients, and one who won't work with the VA, she's extremely frustrated. She wants to give up and have a drink-it all feels too hard. Instead of drinking, she calls Jon. He emails 3 other counselors and finally finds one who can meet with her next week.
While waiting she relapses, but goes to her support group meeting the next day. They reassure her that it's normal and that each day is a new day.
Now that Alysa hasn't had anything to drink in over 6 months, has built a new support community, and found a counselor who helps her understand how she's feeling, she wonders why she didn't get help sooner. She feels like she has the tools in place to start her new life.