Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is one of the most crippling mental disorders. PTSD refers to the mental condition that causes an individual to experience a tremendous amount of stress or anxiety after witnessing or being engaged in a traumatic event. Once PTSD symptoms appear, they can be so unbearable that people with the disorder may start to abuse substances to cope. Chronic abuse of substances to cope with PTSD can then cause a person to develop an addiction. Once that happens, individuals will contain the co-occurring disorder of PTSD and addiction.
A person develops PTSD because he or she was unable to psychologically handle a traumatic event. PTSD develops differently from person to person. While the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following a traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they begin to appear.
Symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, and mental breakdowns. Angry outbursts, severe anxiety, fear, memory loss, irritability, poor concentration, and avoidance of anything related to past trauma are also PTSD symptoms.
These symptoms can strike people at any time, especially when they’re reminded of past traumatic events. Traumatic events that can lead to PTSD include sexual assault, death of a loved one, military combat, violent assault, natural disasters, etc.
Unfortunately, most people in the world will experience a traumatic event at one time or another. The National Center for PTSD reports that 60% of men and 50% of women have experienced a traumatic event before.
As a result, according to the National Center for PTSD, 7 or 8 out of every 100 individuals in the U.S. will suffer from PTSD. Furthermore, 10% of women develop PTSD at some point in their lives and 4% of men develop PTSD at some point in their lives.
Effects of PTSD
Suffering from PTSD can eventually cause individuals to experience physical, mental, and behavioral changes. These changes, or effects, can be long-lasting. Examples of the effects of PTSD include:
1. Distortion of Beliefs
When a person suffers from PTSD due to a certain traumatic event, it can alter the way that the person views all other similar people and situations. For example, if a person suffers from PTSD due to being sexually abused by a man, that person may develop the distorted belief that all men are dangerous and not to be trusted. Many people that suffer from PTSD may also develop the distorted belief that they’re to blame for their traumatic experience.
2. Nightmares and Flashbacks
Many people that suffer from PTSD experience sudden moments where they mentally relive their past trauma. When people suddenly relive past trauma in their minds, they’re experiencing flashbacks.
Some people may even relive past trauma in their minds when they go to sleep. This can cause people to suffer from nightmares and have trouble sleeping.
Some people with PTSD try to cope with their illness by avoiding things. These people avoid all people, places, and things that remind them of their past trauma. This could cause people to start avoiding various aspects of life altogether. Some people with PTSD will even try to keep themselves busy so that they can avoid thinking or talking about their past trauma.
4. Lack of Interest
Over time, dealing with PTSD can mentally weigh individuals down. So much so that people with PTSD start to develop a lack of interest in things that they once enjoyed. Essentially, these individuals start to become depressed.
5. Cognitive Challenges
Oftentimes, the minds of people that suffer from PTSD block out details about their past trauma as a way to cope. Individuals that suffer from PTSD may even start to have problems focusing and concentrating.
PTSD and Addiction
Medical experts suggest that PTSD is a chemical disorder in the brain and body. When people experience traumatic events, their brains create a large amount of endorphins as a way of coping with the stress of the situation. When the traumatic event is over, people’s bodies go through “endorphin withdrawal.”
The symptoms of endorphin withdrawal are similar to that of drug or alcohol withdrawal. These symptoms range from irritability to severe anxiety and mental breakdowns.
To numb the symptoms of endorphin withdrawal after traumatic events, many people start to abuse drugs and alcohol. By self-medicating using alcohol, prescription medications, or other drugs, individuals with PTSD may initially feel calm and happy, and may even be able to sleep once again.
As soon as the substances wear off though, the PTSD symptoms return, sometimes even worse than before. Therefore, many people that suffer from PTSD continue to abuse more and more substances.
When this abuse of substances becomes chronic to the point at which people suffer from substance withdrawal symptoms when minimizing or discontinuing their use of alcohol or drugs, these people suffer from substance dependency. Once the chronic abuse of substances from people with PTSD goes a step further and starts to cause chemical changes in their brains, these people also now suffer from addiction.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for PTSD and Addiction
Once individuals suffer from PTSD and addiction at the same time, they suffer from a co-occurring disorder. A co-occurring disorder, or a dual diagnosis, is a substance use disorder and mental illness that occur simultaneously within someone.
To treat a co-occurring disorder, people should attend professional dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment is the simultaneous treatment of addiction and mental illness.
People should treat their addictions at the same time that they’re treating their mental illnesses. The lingering disorder will likely cause the treated disorder to reappear again. This is due to the fact that the two disorders within a co-occurring disorder are connected to one another.
For example, many people develop substance addictions to cope with PTSD. Thus, treating the addiction without also treating the root cause of the addiction, PTSD, will only cause the lingering PTSD to trigger one’s desire to abuse substances again.
Therapy for PTSD and Addiction
The primary part of any addiction treatment program is addiction therapy. The same is true for any dual diagnosis treatment program. For example, cognitive restructuring therapy can help treat a person with trauma and addiction.
Cognitive Restructuring Therapy
Cognitive restructuring therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps people address their thoughts about past traumatic events. This is beneficial since the minds of people that suffer from PTSD often block out certain details about their past trauma.
Cognitive restructuring therapy is also beneficial for people that suffer from distorted thoughts about themselves and others due to their past trauma. This is because cognitive restructuring therapy helps “restructure” these distorted thoughts so that people can gain some healing and closure.
Various different formats of therapy can also help treat people that suffer from the co-occurring disorder of PTSD and addiction. For example, people who’ve experienced trauma and addiction could benefit from individual, group, and even family therapy.
People with PTSD and addiction can use individual therapy to be incredibly introspective and discover what triggers their PTSD symptoms and desire to abuse substances. People that suffer from trauma and addiction could also use individual therapy to help them come up with effective coping mechanisms to manage their triggers.
People that suffer from PTSD and addiction can use group therapy to learn from the mistakes and successes of other men and women with this dual diagnosis disorder. Such people can also use group therapy to bond with other people in recovery from PTSD and addiction. That way individuals in recovery from PTSD and addiction can support one another.
People that suffer from trauma and addiction can benefit from family therapy as well. This is because many people that suffer from substance use and mental health disorders often strain their relationships with their close family and friends.
This strain and stress that PTSD and addiction can bring to a family can also cause various members of that family to take on unhealthy family roles. Therefore, family therapy can help people with PTSD and addiction rebuild their relationships with their family members.
Family therapy can also help the family members of people with PTSD and addiction learn how to stop taking on unhealthy family roles. It can even teach the family members of people with addiction and PTSD about the dual diagnosis disorder. That way the family members of those with PTSD and addiction can start taking on a more supportive role in their loved ones’ lives.
PTSD and Addiction Treatment at Florida Center for Recovery (FCR)
At Florida Center for Recovery, if a patient’s addiction recovery is affected by PTSD, we offer specialized trauma treatment through the delivery of a revolutionary healing method called Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT). At FCR, rapid resolution therapy is delivered to patients by the therapy’s founder and developer, Dr. Connelly. What better way to receive therapy for one’s trauma than through the creator of one of the most innovative and effective forms of trauma therapy out right now.
Rapid resolution therapy is known to erase people’s troubling memories and restore their lives. RRT is so effective that many people see its results after just one session. To learn more about PTSD and addiction treatment through RRT with Dr. Connelly, contact one of our admissions coordinators.
Need more information regarding PTSD and addiction treatment? Then contact Florida Center for Recovery directly. We can provide you with information on a long list of addiction treatment programs that we offer that are specialized based on substance. We can also provide you with information on many different types of therapies that you can incorporate in your dual diagnosis treatment of PTSD and addiction.
To learn even more information about FCR and our various different forms of therapy and treatment, check out one of our online brochures. You can even consult our online reviews on sites like Facebook. Regardless of how you end up learning more about disorders like PTSD and addiction through FCR, we are glad to help.