Today is Armed Forces Day, a chance to raise awareness and show support for the currently serving troops, service families, veterans and cadets who make up the armed forces community.

At BDP, we run a free and confidential service to support veteran's from the British Armed Forces who feel their use of alcohol or other drug has become problematic and is affecting their health, relationships and ambitions.

43% of veterans seeking mental health support also experience alcohol problems.

Launched in January 2019, Veteran's Independence from Problematic Substances (VIPS) is supported by the Royal British Legion, the Army Benevolent Fund and other charitable donations. VIPS offers a combination of 1-on-1 and group support.


As part of Armed Forces Day, we caught up with Maria, our specialist Veterans Drugs Worker, to find out more about the support she offers veterans.

"Veterans may access our support seeking a confidential space to consider the impact of their alcohol or drug use, because they are looking for techniques to support a greater sense of control, or with a desire to stop using alcohol or drugs," explains Maria.

"When I first meet a veteran I start to look to understand their current and historic experience of alcohol and or drug use. While I understand that the roles and experiences of a veteran's time in the forces will vary individually, it’s important to recognise their service. Whether that’s looking at the drinking culture experienced while serving, or how alcohol and other drugs can be ways to manage experiences like trauma of the challenge of transitioning from service to civilian life."


Due to social distancing restrictions with COVID-19, support is currently being offered over the phone and via online chat. Prior to this, veteran's would have the choice of 1-to-1 meeting at BDP or at the Royal British Legion on Union Street, where the VIPS groups are also held.

The VIPS service also provides links into alternative options for support, whether that’s Bristol’s Community Recovery Service, mutual aid available in the community or access to the online support platform Breaking Free. To find out how VIPS can support yourself or someone you care about click below.

Access veterans support