The topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse is a difficult but important one. Both conditions are misunderstood, stigmatized, and unfortunately interlinked in many cases. The good news is that understanding this connection can pave the way for effective treatment options. In this blog, we aim to highlight this complicated issue, from the causes and symptoms of PTSD to its frequent companion – substance abuse. The goal is to help individuals find a ray of hope through comprehensive and individualized treatment plans, such as those offered by Crossroads.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops in certain individuals after they get exposed to or observe a distressing incident firsthand. It can develop in people as a result of a singular traumatic event or continuous exposure to multiple traumatic events. We will discuss these events in the symptoms below. Unlike the temporary emotional strain of a less severe traumatic event, PTSD tends to have a long-lasting impact, affecting a person’s ability to function in daily life.
There are four broad categories the symptoms of PTSD fall into. These are as follows:
Flashbacks and intrusive memories are hallmark symptoms of PTSD. These experiences transport individuals back to the traumatic event as if it were happening all over again. Flashbacks can be vivid and intense, causing a person to relive the sights, sounds, emotions, and even physical sensations of the trauma. These episodes can be triggered by reminders in the environment, such as sounds, smells, or sights associated with the traumatic event.
Intrusive memories, on the other hand, are unwanted recollections of the trauma that can pop into the person’s mind unexpectedly. They can be distressing and intrusive, often causing significant emotional distress. Nightmares are a related symptom, where the trauma plays out during sleep, causing the person to wake up feeling anxious, fearful, and even panicked. These symptoms can lead to sleep disturbances and an overall feeling of being overwhelmed.
Emotional numbness and avoidance are coping mechanisms that individuals with PTSD might develop to shield themselves from the overwhelming emotional impact of the trauma. Emotional numbness involves feeling detached from one’s emotions, as if they are unable to experience joy, love, or any strong feelings. This can lead to a sense of emptiness and a feeling of being disconnected from the world and from other people.
Avoidance, on the other hand, involves deliberately steering clear of anything that reminds the person of the traumatic event. This might include avoiding specific places, people, conversations, or even thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma. While avoidance can provide temporary relief, it often limits the person’s ability to engage in meaningful activities and relationships, hindering their overall quality of life.
Hyperarousal symptoms reflect an elevated state of vigilance and reactivity that individuals with PTSD may experience. This heightened state of arousal can manifest in various ways:
PTSD often brings about significant shifts in a person’s thought patterns and emotional experiences. These changes might include:
Although anyone can develop PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event, some factors increase the risk. These include:
Many factors explain why people who develop PTSD also struggle with drug and substance abuse as well as alcoholism. These include:
Crossroads addresses both substance abuse and PTSD in the same treatment plan for people who are struggling with both the conditions. Our integrated treatment approach not only targets trauma symptoms, but also the addiction ones, offering a higher chance of recovery and better quality of life. Seeking professional help from healthcare providers who specialize in treating co-occurring disorders is important in order to prepare an individualized treatment plan.
Crossroads offers individual therapy and intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) to help people with PTSD. We treat PTSD and substance abuse addictions in the following ways:
This includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or trauma focused therapy, both of which have proven to be effective in treating PTSD. Individual therapy helps with:
A person’s inclination of developing PTSD may vary from one person to another, because not everyone develops this disorder after experiencing a single traumatic event. Factors like pre-existing mental health conditions, past exposure to trauma, the support systems available, and resilience of the individual weigh in on the possibility of the person developing PTSD. After you face a traumatic event, you need to seek professional help for effective treatment and timely intervention.
The IOP therapy by Crossroads is a structured treatment program that offers more intensive support than conventional outpatient therapy does. This happens while the people continue to live at home, maintaining their everyday routine. We provide:
To help people having PTSD, the Crossroads individual therapy and Crossroads IOP therapy programs are very effective. However, choosing between one approach and the other depends on how severe the symptoms are, the level of support that is required, and the circumstances and preferences of the person.
PTSD and substance abuse often go hand in hand, but understanding this relationship is the first step toward effective treatment and long-lasting recovery. Specialized, individualized treatment options like those offered by Crossroads give hope to those caught in this vicious cycle. If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD and substance abuse, know that help is available and recovery is possible. Reach out to Crossroads and take the first step toward a better life.