POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that occurs when a person or another person(s) experiences a traumatic event and the brain develops a memory of the event that affects his/her emotions and behaviors. The event need not be directly experienced and the event may also be a threat or a perceived event.
Traumatic events include violence or the threat of violence, sexual or emotional abuse, being a witness to violence or abuse, or participating in the perpetration of violence or abuse on others. The event may be a single, distinct event, or the event may be prolonged for many years. Additionally, the accumulation of events over time may ultimately lead to PTSD; whereas, the initial event did not. It is well-documented that certain people will develop PTSD, and others won’t, even when exposed to the same event. Individuals may be pre-programed to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder based on genetic background, or previous life events.
Symptoms of PTSD include, but are not limited to:
- Drug addiction and alcoholism
- Triggers of the event such as experiencing smells, tastes, or hearing something that reminds the person of the event
- The avoidance of situations that remind the person of the event and of talking about the event
Hypervigilance (a state of increased arousal)
- Sleep disorders
- Lack of trust in others and in organizations
- Changes in positive behaviors and beliefs
- Consistent negative feelings
Since addiction to drugs and alcohol are very closely related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, all patients with PTSD should be screened and assessed for substance abuse. Likewise, all patients with an addictive disorder should be assessed and screened for PTSD.
The best treatment for a substance abuser who has also been diagnosed with PTSD is intensive and concurrent treatment at an established drug and alcohol treatment center. There are various modalities that have been developed to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance dependence such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Rapid Trauma Resolution (RTR), and Seeking Safety (SS).
An EMDR therapist will process past events with the patient, both with the eyes closed and the eyes open. Once the eyes are opened, a pointer is used to direct the patient’s eye movements in a particular direction, in order to reduce past negative memories by removing cognitive barriers that prevent neurologic healing from traumatic events.
RTR is a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that does not require the patient to relive the traumatic event(s). The trauma is resolved in a caring and comfortable way. This patient-centric therapy is able to heal vivid memories as well as repressed memories. RTR is able to change negative behaviors and feelings, and allow the patient to begin experiencing positive behaviors and feelings.
Seeking Safety is a highly effective therapy model designed to help people experience safety and freedom from trauma and/or substance use disorders. Behavioral Wellness and Recovery utilizes Seeking Safety, which directly addresses both trauma and addiction, while not requiring clients to go into the trauma narrative (the detailed account of disturbing traumatic memories). This unique aspect makes Seeking Safety helpful to a very broad range of clients. This is the only treatment model that has outperformed controls on both PTSD and substance abuse at end of treatment in randomized and/or controlled trials. See the complete report on all therapies for PTSD / substance use disorders.
There are 25 topics in Seeking Safety that can be conducted in any order and a client may explore as few or many as time allows:
Introduction/Case Management, Safety, PTSD: Taking Back Your Power, When Substances Control You, Self-Nurturing, Red and Green Flags, Honesty, Asking for Help, Setting Boundaries in Relationships, Healthy Relationships, Community Resources, Compassion, Commitment, Creating Meaning, Discovery, Integrating the Split Self, Recovery Thinking, Getting Others to Support Your Recovery, Taking Good Care of Yourself, Respecting Your Time, Coping with Triggers, Detaching from Emotional Pain (Grounding). Life Choices, and Termination. You can read a brief description of all 25 topics here.
The key principles of Seeking Safety
- Safety as the primary goal (helping clients experience safety in their relationships, behavior, thinking and emotions).
- Integrated treatment (working on both trauma and substance abuse simultaneously).
- A focus on ideals to offset the loss of ideals in trauma and substance abuse
- Four content areas: cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, and case management
PTSD and drug and alcohol addiction is a powerful, and sometimes life-threatening combination and leads to destructive behaviors and feelings, hopelessness, failed relationships, and a general feeling of dis-ease.
The good news is there is effective treatment for these co-existing disorders.
For more information on treatment for PTSD and Substance Use Disorders call and speak to one of our counselors today at 800-683-4485.
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