PTSD and Addiction
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most debilitating mental illnesses. The incapacitating condition unfortunately leads many to turn to substance abuse as a way of coping with the disorder. Individuals will self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in order to seemingly control symptoms of PTSD. This oftentimes leads them to develop a dual diagnosis, a co-occurring mental health disorder and substance addiction. If you or a loved one is self-medicating after experiencing a traumatic event or events, please do not hesitate to call us today. White Sands Treatment Center can help you overcome addiction and PTSD.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Someone may experience signs of PTSD after being engaged in, or witnessing, a traumatic event. This could be both a physical and psychological trauma, leaving the person with feelings of helplessness. Common causes of this condition may include:
- Military combat
- Natural disasters
- Sexual assault
- Violent assault
- Childhood abuse
Symptoms of the disorder usually include severe anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks, avoidance of things related to the event, dramatic emotional outbursts, and sleeplessness. These experiences can strike at any time, oftentimes when reminded of the particular event. These symptoms can be divided into three main categories:
- Re-living the trauma
- Avoidance of these memories
- Experiencing intense emotions
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction
Substance abuse fall into the avoidance category, as the individual engages in drug or alcohol abuse in order to dull these unpleasant memories. Ironically, most of those who suffer from PTSD and addiction do not understand that their symptoms will become more severe with prolonged substance abuse. When someone experiences a traumatic event, their brain releases endorphins in order to cope with the stress of the moment. An overload of endorphins leads to an endorphin withdrawal. Many turn to drugs or alcohol in order to temporarily replace the sense of well-being associated with endorphins. Once the substance wears off, symptoms of PTSD often become intensified and more dangerous.
Recovering from a dual diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and a substance addiction requires intensive, professional specialized care and support from an accredited drug and alcohol treatment center. White Sands helps those who are reluctant to accept support feel at ease and at home. Our compassionate and supportive staff are with patients every step of the way, from detoxification to counseling and aftercare programs. An integrated dual diagnosis treatment plan includes:
- Individual therapy, teaching patients how to cope with triggers
- Group counseling and support sessions
- Family therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Membership in 12-step (or similar) programs
- Medication (if necessary)
These co-occurring disorders must be treated before they continue to spiral out of control. Our professionals understand the fragile nature of anyone experiencing PTSD and addiction, and we are well-equipped to treat it. White Sands Treatment Center can help you or a loved one turn their life around. Call us now and break free from this dangerous life sentence.