Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Going through a traumatic event can have temporary short-term, and in some cases, long-term effects of your mental health. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that happens after a person goes through or witnesses a traumatic, terrifying event. Examples of these types of events are:
- Natural Disaster
- Serious Accident
- Terrorist Act
- Rape (or other violent personal assaults)
In the past, post-traumatic stress disorder was often called other terms like, “shell shock,” during World War I, and “combat fatigue” after World War II, when referring to combat veterans. This psychiatric disorder should not be seen as a war veteran’s issue but can happen to any individual no matter their ethnicity, nationality, background, or age. Some signs that you may have this condition are having flashbacks of the event, reoccurring nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the incident. In an attempt to get rid of the memory of a traumatic event or alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, some people may turn to substance abuse like alcohol or drugs. Battling a mental health condition, like PTSD, and a substance abuse problem at the same is defined as dual-diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. At Sana Lake Recovery Center, our healthcare professionals can treat your post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse problem.
A Look at PTSD and the Symptoms
In the United States alone, PTSD affects an estimated 3.5% of adults. Approximately one in 11 people will be diagnosed with this mental health condition in their lifetime. It is believed that women are twice as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than men.
Most people who have experienced a traumatic may have temporary difficulty in adjusting and coping, but they typically get better over time and with self-care. It’s when these symptoms don’t go away and lasts for a longer period, like months or years, that they will start to interfere with your daily activities. This is a sign that you may have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Symptoms of PTSD can start as soon as within a month of a terrifying event but can also take years to surface an event. Some symptoms are triggered when you go to a specific place or event that reminds them of the traumatic event. Memories of the event can be triggered by watching the news on television or a particular scene in a movie.
The different kinds of symptoms and levels of severity that accompany post-traumatic stress disorder will differ with each individual. Generally speaking, most symptoms are classified into four types:
- Intrusive Memories
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include reoccurring, unwanted memories of a traumatic event; reliving the actual event in the form of a flashback; and distressful nightmares or dreams.
When practicing avoidance, you may try to avoid thinking or talking about the incident. You may even avoid going to places or taking part in activities that remind you of the past traumatic event.
- Negative Changes (in thinking and mood)
You may start having negative thoughts about yourself or other people; begin having difficulty maintaining close relationships; have a lack of interest in things and activities that you previously enjoyed; and experience memory problems.
- Arousal and Reactive Symptoms (changes in physical and emotional reactions)
Symptoms in this category can include problems sleeping; being easily startled or frightened; difficulty concentrating; and irritability or angry outbursts. In some instances, smaller children may try to re-enact the traumatic events when playing with others or have nightmares about the particular event.
Developing Substance Abuse with PTSD
As we previously mentioned, some individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder will turn to substances like alcohol or drugs to forget the horrifying event or avoid the stress and symptoms brought on by PTSD. This action will only lead to a dangerous cycle of substance dependence and addiction, resulting in making both conditions of the co-occurring disorder worse.
Some people turn to alcohol in order to deal with the effects of PTSD. Alcohol consumption increases the fear and anxiety of PTSD, which causes endorphins to be released in the body. As the effects of these endorphins start to wear off, the individual feels the need to drink more alcohol to escape the PTSD symptoms, like nightmares or flashbacks. Sometimes, anti-addiction medications are used to break this vicious cycle of PTSD and substance abuse and prevent relapse.
Most individuals living with post-traumatic stress disorder experience shame and even guilt caused by the traumatic event. These feelings, combined with struggles from addiction with a co-occurring disorder, makes it more difficult for them to reach out for help. Struggling with PTSD and a substance abuse issue can lead to legal problems, incarceration, family problems, and loss of employment, if not treated. This can lead to more stress and possibly be an added obstacle to recovery and living a healthier, fulfilling life.
Chronic substance abuse creates a very complicated dual diagnosis. Recovery will be contingent upon a thorough evaluation and digging into the root cause or causes of the post-traumatic stress order, and treatment of the drug or alcohol addiction.
Here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, we believe that treatment is meant to help individuals work through every element and contributing factor, including any co-occurring disorders. We have the resources to provide treatment that addresses addiction and accompanying disorders. One of the first steps you will take at our facility is to go through detox before you start treatment for a co-occurring disorder.
If you or your loved one would like to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, take the first step today by speaking with one of our representatives. You can also read more about our treatment options for co-occurring disorders and learn about our rehabilitation center on the rest of our website. Or, you can contact us for more information regarding treatment options.