Have you ever been in a situation of such intense trauma or stress that it’s caused adverse effects on your physical and mental well-being? Those effects may include hallucinations, flashbacks, or symptoms of anxiety or depression. You may also experience symptoms of substance use disorder (SUD) as a result of these adverse effects of trauma. If you have experienced any of these signs or symptoms, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).
There is not just one cause of PTSD, and there are several methods of treatment you can try. The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center believes that everyone can find freedom from active addiction. We utilize adventure-filled, trauma-informed, and evidence-based practices to help clients achieve long-term recovery. Mental disorders like PTSD can lead to the development of SUD or exacerbate symptoms that are already present. If your struggle with PTSD has led to or worsened your struggles with SUD, The Ohana can help today.
What Do We Know About PTSD?
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines PTSD as a “disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” Fear is a natural response to trauma. The body reacts in all kinds of ways, whether it be a fight-or-flight response or other gut reactions we experience to protect ourselves. Over time, we generally begin to heal from traumatic experiences, but in certain circumstances, people may become more stressed and fearful, or even experience severe panic. PTSD will typically develop from a more severe or life-threatening experience like a natural disaster, sexual assault, or car accident.
After a traumatic event, it is normal to experience fear and anxiousness. Unfortunately, not much is known about why some experience PTSD and others do not. Similar to other mental disorders, certain factors might affect the development of PTSD, such as genetic makeup, environmental factors, and life experiences. Sometimes, it takes prolonged exposure to trauma to cause PTSD, such as returning home from war. After years of constant conflict and violence, war and conflict, individuals may return with adverse effects on their mental health, which can be triggered by certain events.
Understanding the Connection Between PTSD and Addiction
Substance use and addiction are frequently linked to a co-occurring disorder. This may include anxiety, depression, panic disorders, or PTSD. Substance use in itself is typically a response to trauma. Things we experience throughout our lives may become difficult to cope with, especially if we don’t have healthy coping techniques to utilize. In those cases, people turn to self-medication which very frequently leads to a road of addiction. This struggle with mental health and substance use disorders is co-occurring and referred to as a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis (DD) is defined as having a mental health disorder alongside a drug or alcohol addiction, and it is extremely common.
Treating a dual diagnosis, such as both addiction and PTSD, requires treatment for both disorders. If you only receive therapy for PTSD, you will not learn how to truly cope without the assistance of drugs or alcohol. Similarly, by only seeking addiction treatment, you risk relapse in the event that something severely triggers a PTSD episode. Many treatment facilities are not capable of treating co-occurring disorders. Treatment for a DD requires medical, psychiatric, and therapeutic professionals who can understand both disorders. Not all facilities have that capability, but thankfully, The Ohana does. Our whole-person holistic approach to treatment, in combination with evidence-based therapies, makes for a successful recovery for both SUD and PTSD.
Treatment for PTSD
The first step to treating PTSD is recognizing its symptoms. There are different kinds, and to be diagnosed with PTSD, individuals must experience several different types of symptoms, which might include:
Nightmares and flashbacks, reliving the trauma, and experiencing physical symptoms
Avoiding people, places, thoughts, and feelings that reminds you of trauma
Being startled easily, feeling tense, having difficulty sleeping, or exhibiting erratic behavior, especially experiencing outbursts of rage or anger
Difficulty recalling key detail of the traumatic events, experiencing negative thoughts, feeling guilty or shameful, and being uninterested in activities you once enjoyed
While experiencing some of these feelings is considered normal, if they are experienced frequently and severely, you might be struggling with PTSD.
The most effective way to treat PTSD is through a combination of treatments. Medications such as antidepressants can be helpful, and a medical professional can help determine which medication is likely to be the most effective. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is found to be exceptionally effective in treating PTSD. This includes individual and group therapy. These therapies include exposure therapy, which can help people face their fears and learn to control their response to them. Several evidence-based therapies may be helpful, and together with a mental health professional, you can find a path to recovery and healed trauma today.
If you or someone you love is suffering from PTSD and SUD, consider treatment today. The Ohana has the resources and the staff necessary to treat a dual diagnosis. Reach out to us to start your path to recovery and wellness today.