Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a clinically diagnosed psychiatric disorder that affects millions of Americans. Those who are living with the condition contend with debilitating symptoms. A person’s recovery depends on them receiving evidence-based treatment and ongoing care to manage the disease.
June is PTSD Awareness Month. During this time, the Department of Veterans Affairs and several other organizations are doing their part to educate people about the disorder. They hope to get the word out that treatment works and that even people with severe cases do recover.
PTSD is not rare; the mental health condition affects about 7.7 million Americans. While it’s true that men and women in the military are particularly susceptible, combat is not the sole catalyst for development. Persons employed in hazardous lines of work, such as first responders, are at a higher risk of experiencing symptoms. Those who are victims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse have high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Two people can have roughly the same type of traumatic experience (e.g., car accident), but only one might develop PTSD. Each case is different, and there is no exact way to predict who will undergo the lingering effects of trauma.
Determining who is vulnerable to be stricken with PTSD is as salient as ensuring that people who need help have access to care. Being able to receive effective treatment, tailored to each person’s unique circumstances, is vital for millions of people.
Treating PTSD and Co-Occurring Addiction
At NorthStar Transitions, it is often the case that clients who struggle with addiction also have trauma in their histories. That is not to say that trauma begets addiction in every case, but the correlation cannot be ignored.
Those who have played witness to troubling events or have been victimized at some point, often lack the tools to cope healthily. Flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts that one is unable to control can cause a person to seek relief.
The stigma surrounding mental illnesses forces people to hide their condition from friends, family, and doctors even. Drugs and alcohol use can provide the escape an individual is looking for, temporarily at least. The problem is that the very thing a person thought was helping is worsening matters in the long run.
Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol worsens the symptoms of psychiatric disorders. What’s more, the practice can result in the development of an alcohol or substance use disorder. Addiction brings with it more issues for PTSD patients to contend with in their pursuit of recovery.
Men and women who seek professional assistance, as soon as they realize there is a problem, benefit significantly. Aided by psychotherapy and medication, individuals can avoid the pitfalls of self-medication, keep their symptoms at bay, and lead fulfilling and productive lives.
Unfortunately, many people put off treatment for a long time before finally deciding to seek help. They often self-medicate to the point of dependency and addiction in the interim. According to the journal Clinical Psychology, men and women with PTSD are between two and four times more likely to also struggle with addiction.
Seeking Treatment for Addiction and PTSD
Substance use disorder and co-occurring PTSD can complicate treatment and effect outcomes if the dual diagnoses are not treated simultaneously. NST screens each client for co-occurring mental health disorders.
We have a board-certified addiction psychiatrist on staff and work closely with other qualified mental health specialists in the area. We invite you to contact us today to learn more about our Colorado Dual Diagnosis Treatment. 303.558.6400
Please click here if you would like to help spread the word about post-traumatic stress disorder and make a difference in the lives of others who have experienced trauma.