Struggling with an untreated mental health issue will complicate anyone’s life. All too often, the internal chaos created by a mental illness manifests with alcohol or drug addiction as a person attempts to self-medicate, essentially trying to dull or avoid painful feelings and thoughts.
Then, there are other times where prolonged substance abuse or addiction is factor that leads to mental health conditions, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The presence of a mental health condition combined with a substance use disorder is known as a co-occurring disorder, also referred to as a dual diagnosis.
When a dual diagnosis issue is present, the symptoms of each disorder magnify and aggravate the symptoms of the other.
For sustained and effective recovery from a dual diagnosis, the experts at Pure Recovery address each disorder at the same time, customizing our clients treatment plans with an evidence-based, holistic approach to healing the whole person.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is a mental health condition that is the result of:
- Experiencing a traumatic event, such as being a part of or witnessing a life-threatening situation
- Surviving a natural disaster
- Sexual assault
- Car accident
- Military conflict
- Domestic abuse or other life altering events
After any type of trauma, it’s normal for a person to experience upsetting memories or to replay the event in one’s mind over and over. It can be difficult returning to everyday life, going back to work, school or participating in activities once enjoyed, while the trauma is fresh in one’s mind.
Over several weeks or months, however, people are generally able to process their feelings, manage their emotions and return to their normal lives, except when they’re dealing with severe symptoms that lead to PTSD.
With post-traumatic stress disorder, the symptoms of past trauma continue to affect a person’s day-to-day life months and years after it initially occurred.
In some cases, victims of trauma might not experience symptoms of the disorder until long after the event actually occurred.
In other circumstances, a person may only experience symptoms from time to time, brought on by a situation that triggers the memory of the traumatic event.
Who Suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Surviving a traumatic event is far more common than most people might think. The National Center for PTSD, an agency within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, reports that about 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience at least one trauma in their lives, though not everyone will develop the disorder.
It’s estimated that around 8 million adults in the United States will struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder in a given year.
Often times, PTSD is associated with soldiers returning home after time in combat. While veterans are certainly a high-risk category, as are first-responders, anyone, especially people exposed to or injured as a result of trauma, can develop the condition.
Children and teenagers are not immune either. In fact, children and teenagers are incredibly vulnerable to PTSD in cases of neglect or physical, mental or sexual abuse.
PTSD is a chronic mental health condition and is not a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite, confronting symptoms of the disorder and seeking help takes courage.
What are the Types of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Like other chronic illnesses, there is a spectrum of symptoms within the disorder that result in five types of PTSD diagnoses. These include the following:
1. Normal Stress Response
A Normal Stress Response occurs when an otherwise healthy adult experiences or is exposed to a single traumatic event and develops a range of symptoms from intense, bad memories and feelings of isolation to bodily tension and distress.
2. Acute Stress Disorder
Acute Stress Disorder is most often associated with ongoing catastrophe, death, destruction and loss of community.
Symptoms of acute stress disorder can range from panic disorders and severe insomnia, to dissociation and an inability to work or maintain relationships.
3. Uncomplicated PTSD
Uncomplicated PTSD is often characterized by persistent flashbacks of the traumatic event, being easily agitated and withdrawal from activities that are associated with the past trauma.
4. Complex PTSD
Complex PTSD is usually associated with people who experienced lifelong trauma, such as sexual abuse and prolonged neglect, especially as children.
The symptoms of complex PTSD are severe and can range from personality disorders and eating disorders to substance abuse, addiction, and extreme emotional difficulties.
5. Comorbid PTSD
Comorbid PTSD is present when there is post-traumatic stress disorder as well as other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders or substance misuse and addiction issues.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
There is a broad range of symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and not everyone experiences the exact same issues, although there are some common threads among the indicators of the condition.
Some of the more common symptoms of PTSD can include:
- Flashbacks, nightmares and repetitive thoughts related to the traumatic event
- Feelings of distress when reminded of, talking about or being near the environment where the trauma occurred
- Continually on edge and easily startled by loud noises or surprises
- Mood swings, irritability and depression
- Trouble sleeping or bouts of severe insomnia
- Loss of memory surrounding traumatic events
- Poor self-image or feelings of guilt or shame about the traumatic event
- Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs or both, as a coping mechanism for dealing with the symptoms of PTSD and the memory of the past trauma
How is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treated?
For a full recovery from a dual diagnosis issue like PTSD and addiction, it is essential that both conditions are treated simultaneously for recovery to be successful.
There are some very effective holistic treatment approaches that clients suffering from PTSD can take to naturally reduce some of the stress associated with the disorder.
These include mindful meditation techniques, avoiding caffeine and adhering to a regular exercise regimen that boosts endorphins, a naturally occurring chemical in the body associated with lowered stress levels.
At Pure Recovery, our holistic approaches to treating PTSD and addiction are combined with highly advanced neuroscience and evidence-based therapies that include:
- Trauma Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- One-on-one counseling
- Group counseling
- 3D brain mapping
- Relapse prevention therapy
Pure Recovery takes an individualized approach to treatment, customizing each client’s recovery plan based on their individual needs and challenges.
PTSD and addiction negatively impact the brain, but they can be treated successfully. Our comprehensive neuroscience treatment method is unique to the field of recovery and focuses on optimizing and healing the brain to return it to a normal state of functioning.