Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an issue that is much more common than people realize. Certainly it can happen to someone serving on the front lines or going to work everyday as a police officer or fireman. But it can also be just as prominent in a person who grew up in abusive household or someone who has survived cancer. And one of the lesser known facts is that PTSD is closely connected to addiction, as proven by several studies.
According to research from The Archives of General Psychiatry, approximately 52 percent of all males and 28 percent of all females who suffer from PTSD have dealt with alcohol or drug abuse. Data has shown that those dealing with anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares and emotional distress (all PTSD symptoms) look to substances as a way to numb their pain. The truth is, however, drugs and alcohol only worsen the problem and often times drive people into an even deeper depressed state.
Before we begin to delve into the addiction correlation, it is important to understand the identifiers behind PTSD. The root of this acronym is the word Trauma. In other words a traumatic event that, consciously or subconsciously, stirs up fear and anxiety within a person. The below infographic does a good job of laying out examples of traumas that can easily happen in our everyday lives.
It may be shocking to read, but yes; up 70% of all Americans have experienced events like these that continue to haunt them.
Do you recognize one of the issues above? If so, it is important to then look to the actual symptoms of PTSD and whether your are showing signs of someone who is suffering. According to The National Center for PTSD, there are four types of post traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
1) Reliving the Trauma in Your Mind
This is where issues like nightmares and flashbacks come into play. Often times a simple occurrence (like a TV show or car backfiring) can set off a trigger that then creates a flood of memories and potential panic attacks. This is especially dangerous when it comes to addiction because the person will look for a quick solution (mistakenly drugs or alcohol) to numb the sensations.
This takes place when you purposely adjust your lifestyle to avoid contact with triggers. That can include everything from isolating yourself from crowds, to burying emotions, to avoiding cars or airplanes. While a person may think this is helping them through their trauma, it is actually creating a detriment and hindering them from a happy, well-rounded existence.
3) Anger and Negativity
While some people delve into depression after a trauma, others build up resentment, anger and a general distrust of others. If, for example, you have experienced sexual abuse, your PTSD may be hindering you from having a successful romantic relationship. Those who have experienced physical trauma, may in turn, lash out at others and begin inflicting the same type of pain that they experienced.
Hyperarousal is the final symptom identified by the National Center. This often occurs because of unresolved emotions and can lead to insomnia, jitters and difficulty maintaining focus at work or school. The traumatic incident is always at the forefront of these people’s minds and can create somewhat of a manic state.
Each of these symptom types have been proven to escalate into addiction. If that has happened to you or a loved one, just understand that is an extremely common occurrence and you are not alone in this struggle. There is always Hope for anyone dealing with PTSD and/or addiction. At facilities like Iris Healing Retreat, we specialize in dual diagnoses; which work to address both issues with compassion and trained expertise. By offering unique therapies, such as Neurofeedback, we can work to resolve the negative behavior patterns and psychological hurdles that accompany a traumatic event.
Below is an example of how healing facilities like ours can make a real difference in the lives of people dealing with PTSD.
We advise you to study those symptoms carefully and, if needed, reach out to get the help you deserve.