Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction

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Drug and alcohol addiction is a debilitating illness that severely impacts a person’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The effects of an individual’s substance abuse also has substantial impacts on the addict’s family, friends, workplace and the community in general. While the focus of the impacts of substance abuse shine brightest on the physical and mental manifestations of the disease, the actual use of drugs and alcohol are often seen as a symptom of an underlying issue that has taken root.

With the comprehensive research that has been conducted over the last couple of decades, we have come to a better understanding that the most common underlying symptom that gives addiction room to grow is a co-occurring mental disorder. Of all the mental illness that can affect people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by perhaps one of the most difficult to treat. If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD or other mental illness and are struggling with addiction, you need to seek professional help immediately. Ocean Breeze Recovery Center is one of the pre-eminent drug treatment facilities that feature effective holistic-based dual diagnosis treatment that will address both your substance abuse and mental health needs. Call us toll-free right now!

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a condition in which an individual experiences tremendous stress or anxiety after witnessing or being a participant in a traumatic event. This condition can develop as a result of physical trauma, emotional trauma, psychological trauma or any combination of these elements. Some of the most common causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder include the following:

  • Military action/combat
  • Violent sexual and/or physical assault
  • Surviving natural disaster
  • Childhood trauma

For those who experience PTSD, they can encounter a number of disturbing symptoms which can include nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance of things related to the event and severe anxiety. Additionally, PTSD sufferers can be prone to insomnia, prone to wild and aggressive behavior as well as regular angry outbursts. These symptoms can strike at any moment, and this is especially true if those who have the disorder are exposed to situations and environments which trigger memories of the traumatic events in question.

The scariest manifestation of PTSD are the vivid nightmare and flashbacks that people experience. These typically involve crises that have never been fully resolved in the individual’s psyche. An example of this is a returning soldier who was taken prisoner in a battle and couldn’t fight his captors or was involved in a prolonged period of intense battle where there were many casualties. Another example is a child who felt powerless when he or she was sexually abused by an older relative. These repressed feelings may serve to try and help people work through their unresolved issues, or it may serve as fuel to motivate anger or revenge.

No matter where these feelings come from, many people are not able to cope in a healthy fashion or be able to find the help they need. As a result, they often turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to self-medicate.

The Connection Between PTSD and Substance Abuse

man suffering from ptsd and substance abuse

The symptoms or PTSD can be extremely distressing for people afflicted with the condition. Due to the unbelievable amount of stress that is felt by the individual, many who suffer from PTSD find themselves unable to cope with their feelings and will turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of escape. It comes as no surprise this process of self-medication leads  to very high percentages of PTSD suffers that struggle with alcohol dependence or drug dependence. It is estimated that over half of PTSD sufferers have alcohol abuse issues and nearly 30 percent struggle with drug dependency.

Perhaps the biggest factor in why those with PTSD may turn to drugs and alcohol is due to the phenomenon of endorphin withdrawal. When an individual experiences a traumatic event in their life, their brain produces a high amount of endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce pain and help crate a sense of well-being which can help them cope with stress. When that event is over, the body will go through an endorphin withdrawal. People that go through endorphin withdrawal can experience symptoms which are similar to those common when people withdraw from drugs and alcohol.

In order to help cope with the stress, people will turn to substances to feel a sense of calm and euphoria. However, these feelings are temporary and underlying roots of their trauma are not addressed. As a result, people end up taking more and more of a substance to feel the same effect and eventually they get caught up in the vicious cycle of addiction and still have their underlying mental issues.

The Importance of Specialized Treatment

For those who suffer from a co-occurring disorder like PTSD and substance abuse, regular drug treatment programming will not fully address the totality of their addiction. When they enter a drug rehab to begin treatment, people with co-occurring disorders may lack the motivation to work a program of recovery. It is important that people who suffer from PTSD and a co-occurring substance abuse issue find a drug treatment program that specializes in dual diagnosis treatment.

These facilities feature highly credentialed staff that has many years of experience in working with people with mental illness and substance abuse issues and are able to put together individualized treatment plans that can target each client’s unique and specific needs. Dual diagnosis treatment programs feature individual counseling, 12-step or other sober support group help, family therapy and the appropriate medication therapy programs. With dual diagnosis treatment, clients can work on the root causes of both issues and will have greater success at achieving long-term sobriety.

Having PTSD or another mental illness along with an addiction can make you feel trapped and helpless. Despite what you may feel, help is available–and it is closer than you think. As one of the premier drug treatment facilities in Florida, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center has earned a solid reputation for rock solid dual diagnosis treatment programs that are effective and proven to work. Don’t suffer another day; call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center toll-free today and transform yourself into the person you were meant to be.

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