Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a very serious and emotional mental disorder that's brought on by a very traumatic and stressful situation or experience. People suffering from PTSD have either personally been involved with a traumatic event or have witnessed a very disturbing incident.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur at any age and there are many different reasons a person can develop symptoms associated with this debilitating mental health condition. Examples of traumatic events listed below have either been personally experienced or witnessed by a person suffering from PTSD.
- Traumatic Events Associated With PTSD
- Physical Assault
- Physical abuse
- Bullying which unfortunately is very common today among children and young people
- Military Combat
- Terrorism and Violence
- Natural Disasters
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms
Fortunately not everyone suffers from PTSD that has either experienced or witnessed a traumatic situation but many do. People that do suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder can experience disturbing intense flashbacks, fear, panic, anxiety and the distress affects their whole life. Very terrifying events can trigger PTSD and the symptoms can begin shortly after a disturbing experience and continue for many years, especially if the individual doesn't receive help.
There are specific categories symptoms of PTSD fall into which includes: reliving or re-experiencing, avoidance and arousal. People suffer from nightmares and flashbacks reliving the traumatic experience over and over again. Avoidance is where the person suffering from PTSD becomes emotionally numb. Arousal is associated with trouble sleeping, feelings of irritability, being startled very easy, and problems with concentration.
In order to be effectively diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder the individual will have experienced symptoms of PTSD for at least a month, but the good news is that receiving treatment can make a big difference. Unfortunately most people don't receive help or they go through many long years suffering from PTSD and their lives are greatly affected.
PTSD and Substance Abuse
It's very common for people of all ages to attempt to self-medicate their post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and use drugs or drink alcohol as a way of coping with the horrible memories, depression, anxiety and stress. Alcohol is a very common substance people turn to when they're dealing with the stress and pressures they experience due to PTSD. Stimulants and other drugs are also often abused as a way of numbing a person's feelings and coping with traumatic recollections.
Psychological trauma is a very hard thing to deal with on our own and without the proper help, consuming alcohol is a way of making emotional discomfort go away for a while but unfortunately it can also make things worse. People with post-traumatic stress disorder have a higher risk for developing an alcohol problem and women are even more at risk.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, 60 to 80% of the Vietnam Vets that sought treatment had problems with alcohol. They also report that there are higher rates of drug and alcohol problems among men and women who have suffered from sexual abuse.
Unfortunately turning to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with trauma and stress only makes a person feel better for a very short time. In the long run, the use of drugs or alcohol only makes PTSD symptoms worse. Instead of dulling the painful memories, anxiety and emptiness eventually the person is even more depressed and miserable. Not to mention the fact that alcohol and drugs are addictive. Many people who are dulling their symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder eventually become dependent on drugs or alcohol and are in need of help for both illnesses.
Dual Diagnosis Associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
When a person suffers from a mental health disorder such as PTSD and is dependent on drugs or alcohol at the same time, it's referred to as a 'Dual Diagnosis'. It's extremely common for people seeking help for addiction to also suffer from a mental health illness. Substance abuse and mental health disorders go hand in hand and if both illnesses aren't properly diagnosed and treated at the same time, recovery success is limited.
Treatment for PTSD and Addictive Disorders
It's very important to seek professional help if a person is suffering from PTSD and equally important to receive treatment for the dependence to drugs or alcohol if a person has a dual diagnosis disorder. There are many effective treatments available today for treating both the addiction and mental health disorder but it's important to find help from a professional that specializes in the field of addiction and dual diagnosis. Unfortunately not all addiction rehabilitation programs provide treatment for mental health disorders like PTSD.
Each person needs to be fully evaluated when they're seeking help for PTSD and substance abuse. Treatment needs to be tailored to fit the needs of each individual person. Each person's treatment plan needs to be based on the results of their full assessment so they're able to receive the specific help they personally need in order to heal and manage their recovery.
Both the addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder need to be addressed at the same time during treatment. Depending on the individual client's needs, medications may be needed.
People suffering from PTSD and addiction need to be educated about their illnesses and develop coping skills to help them successfully manage their symptoms instead of turning to substances that numb the painful feelings and memories. Developing positive coping skills that are effective for the individual person will help to prevent relapse in the future due to stress, anxiety, depression and situations that previously triggered substance use.
Effective behavioral therapies and support groups are also effective when treating PTSD and addictive disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and addiction recognize and change thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that are unhealthy. Fear and anxiety are common symptoms of PTSD and CBT helps people develop a healthier response to fear.
Mental health disorders and addiction are treatable illnesses when the right form of professional help is received. Thousands of men, women, and children suffer from PTSD symptoms throughout the United States and many also have problems with drugs, alcohol or both. Numbing yourself with drugs and alcohol isn't really even a temporary fix because it makes the symptoms of PTSD worse by intensifying them.
You really can find happiness and emotional comfort in your life again if you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and live your life substance free if you numb the pain with drugs or alcohol. If you or someone you know is managing their PTSD symptoms by excessively drinking or using drugs, reach out for help now. If you or someone you care about needs help and you're not sure what direction to take, give us a call, we're here to help 800-559-9503.