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Ben Cluff Posted by: Ben Cluff (pictured) and Joe Burch of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

With Veteran’s Day coming up, it is a great opportunity to take a minute to reflect on our freedom and the people who have fought, and continue to fight, to protect our rights. Our veterans and active duty service members are brave men and women who have sacrificed time away from their families, their safety, and even their lives. To all of our military and military families, we thank you.

These service members have done so much to support us, but what can we do to help support them? All of this time spent away from family, friends, and the security of home can take a toll and cause physical and mental health side effects, including substance abuse.

If you have Veterans in your life with substance abuse issues, here are ways you can help:

  • Learn as much as you can about what your loved one is going through and how counseling can help. Knowing how substance abuse affects people may help you understand what they may be going through. The more you know, the more you can help.
  • Offer to go to doctor visits with your loved one. You can help keep track of medicine and therapy, and you can be there for support.
  • Tell them you want to listen but that you understand if he or she doesn't feel like talking.
  • Plan substance-free social activities together.
  • Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or do some other physical activity together. Exercise helps clear your mind and elevate mood.
  • Encourage contact with family and close friends. A healthy support system will help someone get through difficult changes and stressful times.
  • Remember, nobody expects you to have all the answers.

For information on Veterans’ Services in Massachusetts, visit www.mass.gov/veterans. Mass Vets Advisor helps Veterans and families find state and federal services and programs. This includes resources for counseling and healthcare, finance, education, employment, and housing. Visit www.massvetsadvisor.org

If you have concerns about loved ones’ drug or alcohol use, visit www.helpline-online.com or call 1-800-327-5050 (TTY: 1-888-448-8321) 7 days a week. You can ask questions in confidence, or get information about prevention or counseling programs in Massachusetts.

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