Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, affects millions of people in our country. Sadly, instead of seeking the necessary help, many of them self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Lakeview Health offers a comprehensive PTSD treatment center in Jacksonville, Florida, designed to help overcome both PTSD and addiction simultaneously. Learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment programs.
What is PTSD?
When an individual experiences an event such as death, a physical threat or injury to oneself or another he or she is said to have experienced a traumatic event. Common physical causes of PTSD can be ongoing distress caused by sexual abuse, violence, the threat of violence or catastrophic events.
Anxiety, recollections, or flashbacks can be triggered by familiar events or feelings related to an initial trauma. To relieve the symptoms associated with such triggers, an afflicted individual may turn to using drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse is a self-destructive coping mechanism that feels necessary for instant relief from symptoms.
Symptoms of PTSD
Because of the intensity of the experience and triggers, PTSD patients can suffer from depression, anxiety, confusion or memory loss. When symptoms do not ease or disappear, patients are left exhausted. Feelings of despair, hopelessness and low self-esteem become their overwhelming reality. Symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Hyper-awareness of surroundings
- Avoidance of events that feel familiar to the traumatic event
- Feeling of detachment
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Intense fear or horror
- Intrusive memories and thoughts
PTSD Treatment with Substance Abuse
There is a high correlation between physical or sexual trauma and alcoholism. Some who have suffered natural disasters may also increase alcohol use due to the experience of trauma. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are extremely uncomfortable and also classified as anxiety-related. Alcohol is the drug of choice for individuals who are self-medicating symptoms of PTSD; however, some addicts may also abuse benzodiazepine medications.
According the American Society of Addiction Medicine, repression and denial are defenses used by people experiencing abuse or trauma. Both of these defense mechanisms are also found in addiction behaviors and help perpetuate substance abuse. An addict’s overwhelming need to escape residual traumatic feelings contributes to ongoing substance abuse as a means to disconnect from reality. Addiction then reoffends the addict who relives the original trauma during substance abuse, either through using rituals or placing himself or herself in risky situations. An inpatient drug rehab center is essential to help the addict with PTSD stop the cycle of abuse.
Treating Post-Traumatic Stress with Addiction
Because of the intensity of the experience and triggers, PTSD treatment patients can suffer from depression, anxiety, confusion or memory loss. When symptoms do not ease or disappear, patients are left exhausted. Feelings of despair, hopelessness and low self-esteem become their overwhelming reality.
Drugs and alcohol can become part of the coping mechanisms individuals with PTSD use to ease their pain and torment. However, drug and alcohol addiction complicates the brain chemistry and the physical manifestation of these disorders. Treatment for only one of these co-occurring diseases will not provide a patient with a positive outcome. Treatment of PTSD with concurrent drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs is required. An integrated approach in a dual diagnosis treatment center, such as the one offered by Lakeview Health, is optimal.