Can You Lose VA Benefits for Using Drugs?

Veterans won’t lose VA benefits just for using drugs. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides healthcare coverage for Veterans for a wide range of services, including substance use disorder (SUD) treatment.1

However, there are some ways drug use could lead to the loss of VA benefits. For example, drug use and crime are closely linked, and incarceration can result in losing VA benefits.2,3

So, while admitting to using drugs or testing positive on a drug screen won’t cause you to lose your benefits, going to jail for possession or distribution of drugs could reduce or terminate your VA disability payments and pensions.2

VA Benefits & Eligibility Requirements

military veteran attending therapy for mental health disorderThe VA provides healthcare coverage as well as disability benefits.4,5

VA healthcare benefits cover most services covered by private health insurance, such as medical care, surgeries, mental health, and addiction care.4

Disability benefits are tax-free monthly payments you receive if you can’t work because of an injury from your service in the military.5

Let’s review these benefits and their eligibility requirements.

VA Healthcare Eligibility

You may be eligible for VA healthcare coverage if you didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge.

The following minimum service requirements apply if you enlisted in the active military, naval, or air service after September 7, 1980, or started active duty after October 16, 1981, one of the following must apply:4

  • You completed the service period or served for 24 ongoing months.
  • You served less than the minimum required time allotment but were discharged for an injury that was worsened or caused by active duty or discharged for hardship.

Minimum service requirements do not apply to those who served prior to September 7, 1980.4

If you are a current or former member of the Reserves or National Guard, you may be eligible if you were called to active duty by a federal order and finished the entire period for which you were called to active duty. Obtaining active-duty status for training purposes only does not make you eligible for VA health care.

Several factors, like being a prisoner of war (POW) or qualifying for Medicaid, could qualify you for enhanced eligibility.4 The location and time you served in might also heighten your coverage eligibility.4

There’s still a chance you will qualify even if you’ve been dishonorably discharged.4 You can learn more about VA healthcare benefits on the VA website.

VA Disability Eligibility

To qualify for VA disability benefits, the following must apply:5

  • You have a current physical or mental injury or illness and have served in active duty, active duty training, or inactive duty training.
  • You must also be able to link your illness to serving in the military, prove your existing condition worsened due to serving, or have a disability related to active duty that started after serving. Special circumstances, like exposure to hazardous materials, having a chronic illness, or having an injury caused by being a POW, don’t require proof of VA coverage.

There’s still a chance you’ll be eligible even if you’ve been dishonorably discharged.5 You can learn more about VA disability benefits on the VA website.

Do VA Benefits Cover Rehab?

military veteran at psychotherapy appointmentThe VA healthcare program offers various options to support Veterans fighting drug or alcohol addiction, including coverage for rehab. Several types of addiction treatment are available to accommodate your needs. Here are some services the VA might cover for SUD care:6

  • Medical detox
  • Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP)
  • Short-term outpatient counseling
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Residential care
  • Continuing care
  • Relapse prevention
  • Self-help groups
  • Medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD)
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders

Do I Have to Go to the VA for Rehab Treatment?

Not necessarily. If the VA can’t provide the care you need or you live far away from a VA facility, you can receive treatment from a community care provider. Community care providers are private-sector doctors and facilities that offer services in your local community covered by the VA.7

Generally, this requires obtaining approval through the VA before enrolling in the rehab program.7  AAC rehab facilities, including Recovery First Treatment Center, are part of the VA community care network. Our facilities provide evidence-based care with specialized programs for Veterans and first responders, and our compassionate admissions navigators can guide you through the process of obtaining VA approval.

Veteran Addiction Treatment in Florida

Recovery First is a great option for an inpatient rehab facility near Miami.

The Veterans program utilizes evidence-based approaches that consider how Veterans’ unique experiences affect their recovery, offering a space for camaraderie and trust with customized care and desirable amenities.

The Veterans program accepts Veterans from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Various treatment options are available to accommodate your needs, including:

  • Medical detox.
  • Inpatient rehab.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP).
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP).
  • Telehealth addiction treatment.

Within any of these levels of addiction treatment, you’ll build coping skills to promote long-term recovery while learning about topics significant to Veteran recovery, like post-traumatic responses, pain management, and grief and loss.

Recovery First is a member of the community care network and accepts insurance coverage from many major healthcare companies, including TRICARE East.

Call to start treatment today or discuss payment options with a compassionate admissions navigator. Verify insurance coverage using the confidential .

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