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Thursday, June 14, 2018

PTSD Awareness Month: Encouraging Treatment and Recovery

Most people who struggle with addiction have a co-occurring mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When a person suffers from two conditions simultaneously it is referred to as a dual diagnosis; the symptoms of each problem exacerbate one another, making the prospects of recovery more complicated. People will often use drugs and alcohol to assuage the symptoms of their dual pathology; for a time, self-medication can have the desired effect, but in the end, the ameliorating effects of substance use are always fleeting.

Believe it or not, individuals who make the courageous decision to seek treatment are, in many cases, unaware that they meet the criteria for a separate mental illness. Upon arriving at a treatment center, people maintain that they are just there to nip their alcohol or substance use in the bud. Such people soon find out that there is more to their story than run-of-the-mill addiction; and, if steps are not taken to address a dual diagnosis, lasting progress is unlikely.

It is vital that treatment centers address both mental health conditions simultaneously if long-term recovery is to be made a reality. Multiple psychological health disorders accompany addiction; during June, it is critical that we discuss PTSD in particular. We are now nearly halfway through PTSD Awareness Month; hopefully, you will join us in our efforts to disseminate the message that there are effective treatments available for this most debilitating mental illness.

PTSD Doesn’t Just Affect Veterans

Over the centuries the condition that we now refer to as PTSD has gone by many names; there are a few that you have likely heard of before: melancholy, battle fatigue, and shell shock. Post-traumatic stress has been called a host of things, but one thing that is consistent is the symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, one does not have to experience combat to experience the kind of trauma that can result in post-traumatic stress. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6 of every ten men and 5 of every ten women experience at least one trauma in their lives; about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.

Witnessing a horrific event or being assaulted, for example, can leave a lasting mark on people’s psyche. When people experience something too difficult for their mind to handle a change occurs; they may find it difficult to be in certain situations for years to come. PTSD symptoms include:
  • Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms): Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event: You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  • Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: The way you think about yourself and others changes because of the trauma.
  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal): You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable.
Individuals who experience the above symptoms must receive treatment; a failure to address one’s symptoms can lead to self-harm and self-defeating behaviors. As was mentioned earlier, such people are likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms; the practice of self-medication often results in substance dependence and use disorders. Conversely, people with alcohol and substance use disorders often experience traumatic events that can lead to PSTD; alcoholics and addicts find themselves in precarious situations, regularly. It doesn’t matter which condition comes first; what is essential is that both disorders are treated.


Co-Occurring Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and assist you in learning how to manage the symptoms of PTSD without resorting to self-medicating. Please contact us today to find out more information about our program.