A world first veterans’ recovery program treats PTSD and substance use issues at same time

The Buttery

A new treatment program that is the first of its kind in the world is aimed at reducing the impact of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) for veterans.

The Veterans’ COPE Recovery Program, takes a new approach by treating both PTSD and SUD at the same time, rather than as separate issues.

The program is fully-evidence-based and provided by the long-established mental health and substance use treatment organisation, The Buttery.

The developers of the COPE program at the Medical University of South Carolina, USA have trained therapists at The Buttery working in conjunction with researcher, Professor Katherine Mills at Macquarie University.

The Buttery’s pilot program, the first such program ever offered anywhere in the world as a residential program is free to all previous members of the Australian Defence Force (Army, Navy, Air Force) who meet eligibility criteria.

It is being offered as a one-off pilot from 20 April to 28 May, 2021.

“There is a tendency among people with PTSD to self-medicate and Substance Use Disorder can be a consequence of this. This program takes a unique approach and there is evidence showing the value of treating both concurrently,” said Buttery CEO Leone Crayden.

“Working closely with the therapists, participants support each other in a peaceful, healing environment. As well as counselling, everyone is encouraged to take gentle exercise and enjoy good nutrition provided by a chef. Group therapy, psycho-education, meditation, yoga, Pilates, massage, swimming in the pool and other activities are available to promote holistic recovery”, Ms Crayden said.

The residential part of the program is held at a comfortable retreat on a peaceful acreage near Murwillumbah in northern NSW.

The residential stay is followed by three months of after-care when participants return to the community. Aftercare is conducted by phone or video conferencing (Skype, ZOOM or similar).

The developers of the COPE program, at the Medical University of South Carolina, USA have trained therapists at The Buttery in the program’s implementation.

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To be eligible participants should be:

Experiencing PTSD currently.

Affected by a substance use disorder.

Committed to remaining abstinent from substance use while in the program and to have undertaken a detoxification program prior to attending (if required).

A previous member of the Australian Defence Force (Army, Navy, Air Force).

Participants require a referral from a psychiatrist. Details about the referral and the program are available from The Buttery’s Intake Team, 02 6687 1111 (Mon-Fri 9 to 4.30 AESDT) or email

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