The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can persist for months, or even years, which makes for a fertile breeding ground for addiction to thrive. The anxiety, agitation, and depression resulting from PTSD can be very overwhelming, and many people don’t realize how closely PTSD and addiction can be linked.
Perhaps you feel you may have PTSD, or maybe you’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, and you also have an addiction to either drugs or alcohol. If this is the case, the best thing you can do for yourself is to find professional help like that offered at Northpoint Seattle.
It’s important to remember that for the professional help you obtain to be effective, it’s vital to treat both your addiction and your PTSD at the same time. This is called dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders, and studies have shown that this method is the most effective way to get help.
How Does PTSD Occur?
As you might imagine, many different events can cause PTSD to develop. Many people experience these or similar events and eventually find that the symptoms they cause are quite short-lived. However, others deal with their symptoms for a very long time, when PTSD is suspected. Some common events that can lead to PTSD include:
- Being a participant in military combat
- Witnessing acts of terrorism
- Living through a natural disaster
- Being in a serious accident
- Sustaining a serious injury
- Living through the death of a loved one
- Being a victim of a physical assault as a child or as an adulthood
- Being a victim of a sexual assault as a child or as an adult
When these events occur, they are crises that never really get resolved in mind. Being unable to resolve them can have devastating consequences as time goes on. For example, if a soldier who was a prisoner during a battle experiences PTSD, flashbacks can bring him back to the time he spent in prison. In the same way, children who are sexually abused often grow up with feelings of helplessness that follow them into adulthood.
What Are the Signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
You may suspect that you have PTSD because of a traumatic event in your past. However, it’s possible that you’re not completely sure because you don’t know the signs you should be looking for. Some of the more common signs and symptoms of PTSD might include:
Having repeating memories of a traumatic event
Experiencing night terrors that relate to a traumatic event
Experiencing physical sensations that are reminders of a traumatic event in your past
Finding it difficult to talk about the traumatic event you’ve experienced
Feeling as though you’re emotionally numb
Finding it hard to maintain close relationships
Experiencing lapses in your memory
Another sign of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may be self-destructive behavior, such as binge drinking or using drugs.
How Can Dual Diagnosis Treatment Help with PTSD and Addiction?
At one point, dual diagnosis treatment for PTSD and addiction was unavailable. When someone presented with both conditions, their addiction was treated first, and then once sobriety was reached, the PTSD was treated. The problem with this method was that the reasons for the addiction were never addressed, and this only serves to perpetuate a harmful and dangerous cycle of addiction.
Dual diagnosis treatment was developed because it was apparent that the “old” way of treating co-occurring disorders was not working. Relapse rates were high under the previous method, and it was apparent that there needed to be some significant changes. Dual diagnosis treatment works by looking at both the mental health condition and the addiction as a whole. In many cases, PTSD leads to addiction, so it’s important to deal with the source of the addiction for proper recovery to occur. This is done by taking several different steps:
Making sure that every patient receives the right diagnosis for treatment
Creating a treatment plan that completely addresses the needs of each patient on a personal level
Putting counseling into place that will address both the addiction and the PTSD diagnosis
Integrating group therapy, which has been proven to be effective for co-occurring disorders
Creating a follow-up plan for continued dual diagnosis treatment in aftercare
If you suffer from PTSD and addiction, please be assured that it is possible to learn your triggers and the best ways to handle them, rather than turning to substances for comfort when you encounter them. A comprehensive and integrated treatment plan can combine the best addiction treatment and treatment for PTSD to produce therapy that will benefit both conditions.
Reach Out to Northpoint Seattle
If you’re looking for a PTSD treatment program in Seattle, call our admissions team today at 425.414.3530. Northpoint Seattle offers comprehensive outpatient treatment to help people heal from substance use disorders and nearly any mental health issue accompanying addiction.