PTSD and Addiction

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health illness and is usually the result of a traumatic experience. It’s a disorder that affects millions of people every year. PTSD does not affect specific people; it can affect anyone at all, young or old. The symptoms of PTSD can be extremely stressful and jarring for the person. To cope with these feelings, a person may turn to drugs and alcohol. This only worsens the situation and can end up creating a bigger problem. 

If a person fails to control their drug or alcohol consumption they may fall into drug addiction. PTSD and addiction can be a severe condition. Over time, a person will fall into a vicious cycle of using drugs to cope with their symptoms. A co-occurring disorder can also develop out of this situation. It’s important to get proper treatment for both conditions. CNV Detox is ready to help you take the first step towards sobriety right now. 

A Closer Look at Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is considered an anxiety disorder and originates from a traumatic event or experience. The person will most likely relive the situation and will deal with anxiety and other symptoms after the event. There are several different traumatic experiences that can trigger PTSD. Common traumatic experiences that can trigger PTSD include:

  • Military combat/war
  • Serious accidents or injuries
  • Physical assault 
  • Natural disasters
  • Sexual abuse and assault
  • Childhood trauma

Stress can seriously impact a person’s autonomic nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system. PTSD usually includes strong emotional symptoms and can lead to an ‘overload’ of emotion. These symptoms can be hard to deal with alone, which is why people sometimes turn to drugs. 

So how long does it take for PTSD symptoms to appear? This number varies from person to person. Typically, post-traumatic stress disorder appears in the first month or so after the traumatic experience. However, this time may vary from case to case. Sometimes people experience PTSD months or even years after the event. 

PTSD Symptoms 

PTSD symptoms and effects can be different from person to person. However, there are several different symptoms that are very common in many cases of PTSD. It’s important to be able to spot these and act fast for yourself or your loved ones. Common PTSD symptoms can include the following: 

  • Acting in a self-destructive manner
  • Intense and vivid nightmares
  • Physical symptoms (sweating, shaking, etc.)
  • Emotional numbing
  • Issues concentrating throughout the day
  • Avoiding smells, places, people, etc. or other triggers
  • Jumpy or easily startled
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic experience in vivid detail
  • Distressing and jarring images, feelings, and memories

PTSD and Addiction as Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders (or a dual diagnosis) is a condition where a person struggles with an addiction and a mental health disorder. This stems from a person’s attempt at “self-medicating” with drugs and alcohol. Over time, addiction is developed, which is followed by a dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders can be extremely problematic and usually require more intensive care. 

A vicious and dangerous cycle can emerge after continuous use. It’s also shown that drugs and alcohol don’t relieve mental health disorders but rather worsens them. There are a number of different drugs people may gravitate towards. Some commonly abused drugs include the following:

During dual diagnosis treatment, both conditions are treated simultaneously. If both conditions aren’t addressed, a person has a high chance of falling back into old habits. PTSD and addiction both require patience and quality attention when being treated. It’s important to focus specifically on these conditions to achieve long-term recovery. 

PTSD Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder is treated with a multitude of different therapy options. When dealing with PTSD, it’s best to pinpoint the cause and work through it with a professional therapist. There several methods that can help a person come to terms with PTSD and its effects. During co-occurring disorders like PTSD and addiction, each part of the is treated differently. Let’s take a look at some of the common forms of treatment for PTSD.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat mental health disorders like PTSD and cases of addiction as well. CBT is especially helpful in cases of PTSD in particular, for the short and long-term. During PTSD treatment, CBT focuses on the meaning of the traumatic experience. This can help pinpoint and help understand the thoughts and behaviors associated with the trauma.

Through weekly appointments, a person can learn the skills and techniques needed to cope with PTSD. CBT is extremely useful in helping a person come to terms with their traumatic experience while learning to deal with some of its stresses. CBT usually lasts somewhere between 12 to 16 weeks and is used alongside other therapy and treatment methods. 

Medication Assistance

Medication can also be used in unison with therapy as well. Certain medications can help relieve some of the symptoms of PTSD while improving a person’s mood. With safely a prescribed and administered process, medication can do a lot during the process. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) are commonly used. SSRIs are antidepressants that can help with the process. Benzodiazepines are also used in the short term as well. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Some centers offer eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), which is a form of psychotherapy. This can be used for PTSD treatment and helps a person process traumatic memories, thoughts, and feelings. EMDR works by having a person pay attention to a sound or movement while focusing on their traumatic memory. While this may seem unorthodox, EMDR has been proven to be effective in cases of PTSD.  

Treating Addiction

Addiction can be a crippling effect along with PTSD. During dual diagnosis treatment, a person will undergo specific treatment methods for both their PTSD and addiction. For addiction, there are several widely used treatment options. With this in mind, it’s important to know that not all treatment methods may work for you. There are many factors to consider when getting help for a specific addiction (age, the severity of the addiction, time period of addiction, the drug being used, etc.) 

Regardless of these factors, it’s important to take the first step towards recovery instead of doing nothing. Co-occurring disorders are carefully and effectively treated by professionals in both spectrums. Some of the treatment methods used for PTSD are also used for drug addiction as well (CBT and medication). PTSD and addiction treatment are utilized during inpatient treatment and outpatient programs. 

Detoxification (Detox)

Detoxification is a commonly used procedure that purges all drugs and alcohol from a person’s body. This is always the first step in dual diagnosis cases and addiction treatment. It is important to take care of the pressing symptoms of drug addiction before treating cases like PTSD. CNV detox offers a safe environment to guarantee detox success and safety. With years of experience, we’re ready to help you on the first step towards sobriety. 

In some cases, people may attempt to detox alone; this is never recommended. Detox can be unpredictable and more severe than some anticipate. It’s always best to be supervised by medical professionals for safety and effectiveness. At CNV Detox, we focus on non-medical detox, which does not use medication during the process. We instead focus on the emotional aspects of the detox process.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a widely used form of therapy that involves a group of people all dealing with the same situation. Group therapy can be used for both cases of PTSD and addiction. It can be extremely beneficial and therapeutic to open up to others. Forming bonds and attentive listening to other people’s stories can be very effective for addiction and PTSD treatment. 

Group therapy is typically monitored by a therapist or professional counselor. While group therapy is used for both PTSD and addiction cases, each session will only be about one of these disorders. During each group therapy session, you have the opportunity to tell your story while listening to others as well. You don’t have to go through the process alone and group therapy can help you understand this. 

Don’t Wait — Take the First Step Today!

At CNV Detox, we know how destructive PTSD and addiction can really be. Co-occurring disorders can become a crippling situation for a person and their family. This only highlights the true importance of addiction and mental health treatment. We understand the importance of getting proper and necessary treatment. You don’t have to go through the process alone. CNV Detox will be by your side from the beginning to the end of treatment. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD or addiction, we’re ready to help right now. Don’t wait for things to get worse, take the first step towards recovery with our dedicated and passionate staff. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and detox process.