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PTSD and Addiction

PTSD and Addiction

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD) are often experienced at the same time. The link between PTSD and addiction can be strong, making it complicated to treat clients who are dealing with both disorders. However, our understanding of the best ways to help people experiencing the aftermath of trauma and struggling with self-medication is better now than ever before. For those seeking PTSD treatment in Boston or other parts of the country, learning more about the relationship between PTSD and addiction and the best and latest treatment approaches can be helpful and empowering.

What Is PTSD and How Does It Relate to Substance Abuse and Addiction?

PTSD is a disorder that can occur after a person has experienced trauma. Symptoms of PTSD can emerge at any time, even months or years after a traumatic experience. These feelings and symptoms can be very uncomfortable and upsetting, which can lead people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in order to find relief. Studies suggest that it is, in fact, very common for people with a diagnosis of PTSD to also qualify for a diagnosis of SUD. Significantly complicating matters, people dealing with PTSD may not realize that they need help or may find it difficult to access the help they need.

Some of the symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
  • Difficulty managing work, school, or family obligations
  • Problems sleeping
  • Intense, intrusive, vivid memories (aka flashbacks)
  • Depression
  • Intense anxiety or fear
  • Emotional numbing or ‘shutting down’
  • Feelings of shame or guilt

How Are PTSD and Substance Use Disorder Treated?

In order to make progress with either issue, both issues must be addressed appropriately. For this reason, most treatment programs specializing in the treatment of PTSD and SUD use special approaches to treat both problems at the same time. In fact, trauma-focused care has become more and more common in the field of substance abuse treatment because of how common it is for people with a history of trauma to find themselves in need of help for addiction.

One factor that is important in this type of treatment program is keeping clients safe while they are in the process of quitting drugs or alcohol. The time immediately after stopping is actually the most critical and potentially dangerous time throughout the recovery process. Clients need strong support in order to avoid returning to use, as the risk of overdose is highest at this time.

Another factor that is of major importance in trauma-focused care is that of avoiding retraumatization during the treatment process. It is crucial that clients redevelop a sense of trust and safety in the therapeutic context so that they will be able to begin processing their experiences in a healthy, healing way. In trauma-focused care, clients and clinicians work together to determine the treatment goals and course of therapy. This helps clients build up their self-confidence and learn to see themselves as capable individuals.

Greater Boston Recovery Centers Can Help with PTSD and Addiction Treatment

At our treatment centers, we offer programs that can help clients who are dealing with the aftermath of trauma. Our approach to treating addiction and PTSD combines the best clinical practices with a supportive, recovery-focused environment that will help you or your loved one heal and regain your joy. Individualized treatment plans mean that each client works with our staff of clinicians to find the path to recovery that works best for them. If you or someone you care about has been struggling with trauma and addiction, reach out to us today at 877.920.6583 or contact us online.