People who survive a traumatic event, like a war, a serious illness, or a car accident, might be described as “lucky” or “fortunate.” But these same people might emerge from these situations with deep scars that outsiders just can’t see. Rather than feeling lucky, they might feel haunted by what did happen and by what could have happened if they had reacted differently. People like this might have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and if they do, they might lean on substances of abuse to help them cope.
People who have PTSD very likely want to forget about what has happened to them. However, they seem incapable of moving past that specific set of events. Rather than moving forward with their lives, they might:
- Have nightmares about the event
- Seem tense and nervous much of the time
- Refuse to go somewhere that reminds them of the event
- Find it hard to discuss the event
Drugs can seem like a perfect solution to this particular cluster of problems, and according to studies referenced by Medscape, 21 to 43 percent of people who have PTSD also have a substance abuse problem. Only eight to 25 percent of people who don’t have PTSD have the same substance abuse disorders. These statistics seem to suggest that many people with PTSD come to rely on drugs, and in time, that reliance can harm them.
Drugs might seem to provide relaxation and a release from difficult memories, but the help they bring is only temporary, and often when sobriety returns, the PTSD symptoms intensify. People who once felt isolated due to PTSD might feel even more alone when they’re abusing drugs, for example, and their memories and impulses might be even harder to control when the brain is weakened by drugs. Similarly, some drugs tend to intensify the hallucinations people with PTSD feel, and that can make recovery even more difficult.
Help for PTSD
People who have PTSD often respond quite well to therapies in which they’re allowed to explore the incident in a safe and controlled manner. Therapies like this allow people to process their memories, so they can move past them instead of being haunted by them.
This sort of therapy works best when it’s augmented by therapies for substance abuse, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In a program like this, people have access to the exposure therapies that can help them to work through their memories, and they have the addiction therapies that can help them learn to move past their cravings for drugs. When the treatments are combined in this manner, people have help for all of the issues that are bothering them, and they can really improve as a result.
This is the kind of therapy we provide at Black Bear Lodge. In fact, our Dual Diagnosis approach is designed to help anyone who has PTSD compounded by an addiction issue. We provide appropriate therapies for both sets of problems, and we integrate that treatment so the care is comprehensive. Please call us to find out more about how you can get PTSD and substance abuse treatment for someone you love.