Typically, PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome has a dramatic, often lasting effect. This is a tragedy that involves the entire body. Massive repercussions can be the result of some kind of event (frequently involving trauma) leaving a devastating effect of enormous portion on an individual. When people feel they can no longer cope, drug or alcohol addiction is a distinct possibility. Today, there are programs for co-treating trauma and addiction.
What Does Trauma Involve?
Victims of trauma experience overwhelming fear of mental harm, physical harm, destruction, or imminent death. This condition is triggered by an event or situation that the victim is simply not psychologically able to cope with. Negative emotions that can be experienced by people suffering from some kind of trauma can include the following:
Victims suffering from trauma or PTSD may experience its effects for merely a matter of years or, worst case scenario, the rest of their lives. Its symptoms can manifest without warning at most any given time.
The Probability of Possible Substance Abuse Is Increased By Trauma
Alcohol or drug abuse is a distinct possibility in victims of trauma. In order to deal with symptoms and negative emotions associated with trauma, individuals tend to turn to self-medication through illicit or intoxicating substances. In fact, in people suffering PTSD, a problem with drugs or alcohol will develop in 59% of them. What’s more, after experiencing trauma of some kind, alcohol, and drugs will be used on a consistent basis as much as 76% of the time.
It can be more difficult for a victim of trauma to beat an addiction for one very simple reason – cravings can be triggered by anything that reminds them of the initial trauma. And anything can and does serve as a reminder.
Substance Abuse Induced Trauma
In a strange twist, 66% of individuals abusing a substance will end up being victim to some type of exposure to trauma. This is not surprising considering that risky behavior is a direct result of drug or alcohol use. That opens both victims and others up to injury resulting from one of the following:
• Self harm
• Increased risk-taking
• Unsafe sexual behavior
• Placing themselves in dangerous situations
• Driving under the influence
Substance Abuse Is Detrimental to Trauma Recovery
It isn’t easy, recovering from a traumatic event. Drug addiction and alcoholism result in behavioral, psychosocial, and cognitive impairment making it even harder to recover from the trauma itself. The problem is only exacerbated through self-medication with alcohol or drugs, even though that method of coping initially makes the person suffering feel better. They feel good for two reasons:
They can avoid processing or fully experiencing their negative emotions because they are masked with the drugs or alcohol.Pleasurable sensations, albeit temporary, will be enjoyed by the abuser because the brain’s reward centers are activated by the use of alcohol and drugs.Unfortunately, because these coping mechanisms are not actual, reliable ways of dealing with trauma, recovery will likely never occur if these destructive behaviors are not altered.
Is There a Successful Method of Co-Treatment For Trauma and Addiction?
Because PTSD has become such a hot topic as of late, and the effects of trauma are becoming more and more understood, experienced and trained staff are now able to not only diagnose the existence of both substance abuse and trauma together, but a co-treatment approached on multiple levels has been developed. Methods of co-treatment can include the following:
• Therapy that is medication based – This is done through a combining of anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and/or anti-addiction drugs.
• Meetings involving the 12-step method – Through the fellowship and shared, common experiences of others, a recovering addict can gain inspiration and strength.
• Couples and family counseling – This serves to strengthen and rebuild family relationships and to educate members of the family regarding the problems of trauma combined with addiction.
• Group sessions – Individuals suffering from PTSD and substance abuse can communally address the challenges and issues that every one of them faces each day. Sufferers begin to understand that they are not alone.
• Individual therapy – This will help the person avoid relapse by learning what their triggers are and how they lead to cravings.
Can someone who is suffering from addiction and a past traumatic event get better? Yes. But it is essential that they enroll and participate in a program that deals simultaneously with both realities – the addiction and the trauma. Success rates are increased exponentially when both of these disorders are addressed at the same time.