Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Addiction


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder which occurs after a negative trauma or event. Living with PTSD can be difficult and painful sometimes leading to addiction by self-medicating. Therapeutic methods can help the individual learn to deal with the symptoms of PTSD.

If you are suffering from PTSD and addiction because of using drugs to handle your emotions, fear, and anxiety, you should know that you do not have to deal with these feelings alone. Drinking and drugging will not solve the symptoms of PTSD. Call Recovery Connection and speak with a trained coordinator now. Our staff understands your issues and is here to help you find the appropriate dual diagnosis treatment center. Our coordinators at 800-993-3869 are standing by to talk with you 24/7. All calls are confidential.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD can develop at any age in response to a physical or psychological trauma. PTSD is generally experienced by people who have witnessed violence, who have engaged in warfare, who have lived through domestic violence, or who have been the victim of sexual or violent crimes. The origins of the disorder are unknown but a variety of factors are involved. PTSD can impact people for months after an event, and, in some cases, symptoms can last for years.

The response to traumatic events can begin with Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) in which the symptoms of trauma last 4 weeks or less after the original trauma. ASD is considered more immediate. When symptoms of ASD persist for more than one month a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder may be appropriate.  ASD is a short term response to trauma with symptoms similar to PTSD which include:

  • Emotional disconnect
  • Difficulty experiencing pleasure
  • Temporary amnesia
  • Depersonalization

Once the immediate symptoms continue for more than 4 weeks , the diagnosis is changed to reflect PTSD. Often, those suffering from PTSD relive an experience over and over again in a variety of ways. They can:

  • Suffer from nightmares
  • Physically relive the experience
  • Grow agitated on anniversary dates of an event

Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder vary. In addition to the traumas mentioned above, other common traumas that can set off the disorder are associated with:

  • Natural disasters
  • Automobile or airplane accidents
  • Serious health issues
  • Repetitive emotional, physical and sexual abuse
  • Witnessing the abuse of others
  • Media coverage, such as T.V. and newspapers

PTSD is now considered an anxiety disorder. It is estimated that 7.7 million Americans suffer from PTSD yearly.

Signs and Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be broken into several categories including reliving the event, detachment, or arousal.

Each category of response contains its own set of symptoms but common responses of a person suffering from PTSD are:

  • A numbing of feelings (detachment)
  • An inability to sleep (arousal)
  • A decrease in memory (detachment)
  • Difficulty concentrating (detachment)
  • Generalized anxiety (reliving the event)
  • Nightmares and flashbacks (reliving the event)
  • Feeling on edge or easily startled (arousal)

People suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will avoid situations that remind them of the traumatic event. This avoidance affects their social lives, interpersonal relationships, and the ability to work. These individuals tend to avoid connections with people in an attempt to control their feelings or environment. The usual feelings associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms are grief, anger, fear, guilt or sadness.

Before treatment, those suffering from PTSD may turn to drugs or alcohol to medicate their feelings; however, after a brief period of time the drugs and alcohol will no longer work, the symptoms of PTSD return and the person will now also be caught in the web of addiction.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction

Many people, prior to treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, may suffer from depression or severe anxiety and have difficulty managing their behavior. In an attempt to control the anxiety associated with PTSD, people turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of self medicating. After an extended period of time of using drugs or alcohol to control the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the person suffering from PTSD symptoms has a greater chance of becoming addicted. Once addicted, the person now suffers from a dual diagnosis.

In reality, drugs and alcohol can complicate the symptoms of the PSTD by creating other mental health problems. Accurate diagnosis becomes more difficult as the original problem, the post traumatic stress disorder, has been compounded. Is the depression drug induced, is the paranoia from a real experience or is it also drug induced?

Drugs and alcohol do not resolve issues related to PTSD. They only complicate the problem. The right treatment program can address your PTSD as well as the addiction. Call Recovery Connection now 800-993-3869 and regain your life.

Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be an effective PTSD treatment. Both individual and group therapies are used to identify the trauma and the symptoms that are caused by it. Treatment identifies the symptoms and increases the individual's ability to recognize and overcome the disorder.

In reality, drugs and alcohol can complicate the symptoms of PSTD by creating other mental health problems. Accurate diagnosis becomes more difficult as the original problem, the post traumatic stress disorder, has been compounded. Sometimes benzodiazepines are prescribed for PTSD. However, they are addictive and should be avoided if possible, especially if the individual also suffers from alcoholism or drug addiction.

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) incorporates elements of cognitive behavioral therapy with eye movements and other forms of rhythmic stimulation. The effectiveness of this type of PTSD treatment is based upon unlocking the suppressed fragments of the trauma in the brain. Once freed, the treatment will address each of the fragments through cognitive behavioral therapy.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy has four parts: education, breathing, practice, and talking therapy. Each of these components provides the individual with techniques to identify their responses as symptoms, counteract the physical sensations, practice situations to diminish distress response, and gain control over thoughts and feelings.

Rapid Trauma Resolution Therapy (RTRT) addresses the underlying feelings and sensations that accompany the original trauma. This approach separates the feelings and thoughts from who the patient is. The process in rapid time, after a session or two, will create something called activators that can shift the response to old thoughts and reorganize the mind toward a desired result. It uses symbols, verbal representations, metaphors, and imagery. It seeks to keep the patient grounded in the present.

Medication Therapy is an important part of most PTSD treatment programs. There are currently medications approved by the FDA to treat PTSD. Physicians can prescribe certain medications to help alleviate the depression or anxiety that exists in most patients, as well as to decrease the arousal and sleep disturbances or mood swings.

Family-based PTSD treatment programs are designed to help both the patient and those close to him or her. This type of comprehensive PTSD treatment opens up communication lines between family members and assists the family with relationship problems that have developed as a result of the disorder. Family interventions can reduce the level of stress between family members and improve psychological functioning for all members. It also provides family members with information about your concerns, triggers and fears.

Recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a gradual process. There are no quick fixes. Even after PTSD treatment, the memories of a traumatic event may never completely disappear, but the difference is that after successful PTSD treatment, you will have learned the coping mechanisms necessary for better managing your emotions and reducing the negative impact of the memories in your daily life.

In 2009, NIH funded scientists were able to block "a learned fear memory in humans with behavioral manipulation...Learning not to fear, a process called fear extinction, appears to depend on a specific type of cell in ...the brain structure known for its role in emotion, learning, and memory...Early stage research suggests that virtual reality exposure therapy (VRE) may serve as an effective and efficient alternative to traditional exposure therapy..."
(Source: http://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=58&key=P#P)

New therapeutic modalities are in the research phase and may have profound impact upon treating a number of mental health disorders. This is wonderful news.

 

Looking For Treatment?
If you are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder combined with drug or alcohol abuse, dual diagnosis treatment is available. You can regain control over your life starting today. Recovery Connection is ready to help you find a quality addiction treatment program that also treats dual diagnosis (including PTSD). Call now 800-993-3869 and let one of our trained coordinators get you on the path to recovery. All calls are confidential. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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