Healing PTSD to Treat Addiction
What Is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) are the mental and physical symptoms that come after a person experiences or witnesses something shocking, dangerous, or scary. You may have difficulty doing everyday activities like going to work or school or have trouble sleeping, with your’ fight or flight’ trigger being set off as a defense against perceived threats that are not there.
Some examples of traumatic events that could result in a person experiencing PTSD may include:
- Prolonged exposure to a high-stress environment (ex., Being in active combat)
- Experiencing a natural disaster or an act of terrorism
- Being involved in or witnessing a serious accident
- Being threatened with death, sexual violence, or severe injury
- Experiencing the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one
- Experiencing the threat of harm or danger to a loved one
- Indirect exposure to an upsetting event, like learning about the violent death of a close friend or family member or a police officer’s repeated exposure to disturbing crimes.
PTSD can occur in any person, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, or culture. It varies in severity, with symptoms of intrusive thoughts, fear, and alterations in mood and reactivity that last months or years after the event has taken place.
The Department of Veteran Affairs has recognized June as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) awareness month, with free screenings for people who have seen or experienced life-threatening events or who are otherwise experiencing the symptoms of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
Although it is normal to feel sadness, fear, and anxiety for a short while after a scary or disturbing event occurs, PTSD symptoms will interfere with your day-to-day life and last longer than three months after the initial traumatic event. These symptoms may even appear years after the event.
Common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Having trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to anything that reminds you of the event
- Avoiding thinking or talking about the event
- Experiencing severe anxiety
- Difficulty adjusting or coping with negative thoughts about the world, yourself, and other people
- Memory problems, including not remembering important parts of the event
- Feeling detached from loved ones and having difficulty maintaining close relationships.
- Depression, with a lack of interest in activities and feeling detached and emotionally numb
- Having upsetting memories and uncontrollable, unwanted, and distressing, intrusive thoughts about the event over three months after it happened
- Having flashbacks where you feel like you have returned to the event (emotionally or even visually) is happening again.
- Feeling on-edge and jumpy, easily startled, and always being on guard for danger.
- Feeling irritable, angry, with outbursts of anger or aggressive behavior.
Getting PTSD treatment is crucial if you are experiencing these symptoms, so your quality of life can improve. Your symptoms may ebb and flow depending on your life’s circumstances, but getting help will allow you to regain control and prevent worsening symptoms.
For tips on how to deal with the relapse of a recovering alcoholic, check out our blog below:
Co-Occurring PTSD and Addiction
Post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. The symptoms of PTSD cause severe distress and emotional pain and can cause changes in brain chemistry, producing fewer endorphins (a chemical in the brain that makes us feel happy).
People sometimes turn to drugs and alcohol because they create artificial joy and temporarily have mood-enhancing effects that temporarily increase these endorphin levels. Soon, the person begins to rely on the drugs, self-medicating to relieve all of their mood issues, anxiety, and depression, leading to addiction.
Although it may seem like life is out of control, there are plenty of recovery stories from people who have dealt with their own PTSD and addiction issues. After seeking a comprehensive drug or alcohol rehab program that provides help with drug and alcohol use disorders and provides therapy and mental health treatment, you will be able to move forward in life. You will be free to rebuild your life without PTSD and substance use.
Signs of Addiction
Alcohol and drug abuse cause changes to your brain chemistry, leading to behavioral changes that eventually lead to addiction. Some signs that you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction include:
- Being unable to stop taking the drug, even when it is causing bad things to happen in your work, relationships, and finances, and you want to stop.
- Feeling “off” when the drugs and alcohol wear off, experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
- Developing a tolerance to the substance, needing to take more to get the same effects
- Spending a lot of time thinking about the substance, where to get more, and when you can use it again
- Losing interest in regular activities, foregoing usual hobbies, friendships, and interests in substance abuse
- Stealing and lying so you can get money for drug use.
If you believe you may need substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, comprehensive drug and alcohol abuse and addiction treatment are available at the Muse Treatment’s addiction and recovery center. Common addictions we treat include:
- Alcohol addiction
- Prescription opioids addiction
- Cocaine addiction
- Heroin addiction
- Prescription drug addiction
- Meth addiction
Co-occurring PTSD and other mental health disorders and addiction only compound the issue. Substance use disorders and mental health conditions feed off each other, creating a cycle of dependence that can feel impossible to break without professional help. This process is why comprehensive, integrated drug rehabs exist and we can help you.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis treatment is a treatment method used in a recovery center when a patient is diagnosed with co-occurring disorders: a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder or behavioral health disorder. It treats co-occurring mental health issues like PTSD and drug or alcohol addiction, at the same time, in the same integrated treatment plan utilizing an individualized addiction treatment plan, medication-assisted treatment, and the treatment of co-occurring PTSD.
Co-occurring PTSD and SUD issues are complex. People may use drug and alcohol abuse (like binge drinking to avoid social anxiety, taking excessive benzodiazepines to ward off a panic attack, or a person with depression using ecstasy to experience artificial happiness) to escape their symptoms. If both issues are not treated, the other may worsen.
A dual diagnosis program will diagnose each issue and treat it with all care providers working together to ensure that your needs are met. Psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and holistic care and groups will play key roles, with prescription psychiatric medication prescribed if needed.
How Common Is Dual Diagnosis?
The treatment of co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental illness and substance use disorders is more common than you may think. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 45% of people in the US who struggle with addiction also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Along with that number are the people who frequently use drugs or are involved in alcohol abuse. This behavior may make people more likely to develop a behavioral or mental health disorder. There are overlapping factors that can cause SUDs in people with PTSD, including:
- Brain responses that can mimic mental illnesses like psychosis can result in psychosis developing
- Genetic predisposition makes up between 40% and 60% of the reason a person develops a SUD
- Environmental triggers (like a traumatic event) can result in addiction
- Exposure to drugs at an early age (resulting in brain damage from alcohol abuse and substance use)
Treatment for PTSD and Addiction at Muse Treatment Center
At Muse Treatment Center, we provide addiction treatment programs alongside clinical help for post-traumatic stress disorder. We also treat bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, and other mental health issues, including mood disorders and schizophrenia.
We offer several levels of care, including:
- Medication-assisted drug and alcohol detox
- Inpatient treatment and rehab
- Outpatient rehab
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
Some of the therapies and types of treatment offered include:
- Educational programs and lectures
- Group therapy and process groups
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Art therapy
- Family therapy
- Nutrition and fitness counseling
- Life skills and vocational programs
- Integration with 12-step programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
Our team will provide you with relapse prevention strategies and connections to sober living homes in your area. We offer a whole-patient approach to healing to ensure you are given the individualized care you need to truly achieve addiction recovery, with emotional, spiritual, and mental health at the forefront of your treatment plan.
You will be surrounded by like-minded peers in a safe and welcoming environment, with all treatment provided by trauma-informed, caring staff and caregivers. Our dual diagnosis treatment plans combine counseling, therapy, recovery skills, relapse prevention, and life-skills training into one integrated, holistic program, as you learn to cope with stress in a healthy way, heal the underlying causes of your co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorder, and reconnect with yourself and your loved ones.
Through alcohol and drug detox, our alcohol and drug rehab, our tailored treatments for PTSD, and our long-term support and outpatient care programs, you will never be alone in your addiction recovery. We will help you determine the best program for your unique needs, with inpatient and outpatient options that can be customized to best help you heal. Contact Muse Addiction Treatment Center at (800) 426-1818 today to learn more about your options.