Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and addiction are two very complex conditions that commonly occur together: individuals with PTSD are at a higher risk of developing substance use disorders, and vice versa.
Research suggests that between 30%–60% of individuals who have experienced PTSD also struggle with addiction. This is a significant percentage, indicating a strong correlation between the two conditions.
The reasons for this correlation are complex and can vary from person to person. In fact, their relationship is often bidirectional; each can worsen the other, presenting a significant challenge for individuals who struggle with the two conditions. Treating PTSD and co-occurring addiction can therefore be tricky.
Here, we’ll look more closely at the two conditions, how they can intertwine, and how our approach at Tikvah Lake Recovery Center in beautiful Florida can make a world of difference for those who require treatment but may be hesitant to seek it out.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop due to exposure to traumatic events. These include, but are not limited to, natural disasters, serious accidents, sexual or physical assaults and conflict-related events.
Research suggests that approximately 7%–8% of the general population – regardless of age, gender or background – will develop PTSD in their lifetime, with higher rates among individuals who have experienced sexual assault and veterans of armed conflicts.
Others at increased risk of developing PTSD include first responders, victims of crimes such as kidnapping, witnesses of violence and people battling chronic illnesses.
PTSD symptoms differ widely. They often include:
- graphic flashbacks
- recurrent nightmares
- intrusive memories
- negative changes in mood and cognition
- physical symptoms, such as chest pains, headaches, and stomach aches
- avoidance of situations that trigger memories of the traumatic event.
These symptoms can be severe and incapacitating, making daily life extremely difficult for those affected.
Individuals affected by PTSD may also feel helpless and isolated, but it’s important to remember that there’s always hope.
How do you treat PTSD?
Treating PTSD can be a difficult process, but there are evidence-based therapies available that have been shown to be effective.
Experienced therapists work with individuals to identify negative patterns of thought and behavior and how they relate to PTSD. To do this, a trauma specialist may use a variety of different therapy approaches in your treatment, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT enables you to assess and effectively manage your emotions with the guidance of a specialized therapist. They will assist you in identifying the root cause of your feelings and assist you in changing your perspective.
Another therapy approach commonly used by trauma specialists is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR combines elements of CBT with eye movement processing to help patients process and confront deeply buried traumatic memories.
PTSD and addiction often go hand in hand
There are numerous examples of people who have struggled with addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder, including many veterans who served their country.
People who struggle with substance abuse may develop PTSD due to traumatic experiences they have had while using drugs or alcohol. Most commonly, however, addiction develops in individuals who turn to substance abuse as a way to cope with or escape their disturbing emotions and memories.
In addition, when a person develops PTSD, their brain produces fewer endorphins, making them less able to deal with their symptoms, and increasing their risk of depression, sleep difficulties, and addiction.
According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, around 10%–20% of veterans who have PTSD also experience substance use disorder, as drugs and alcohol can provide temporary relief from PTSD symptoms, including depression or anxiety.
Unfortunately, co-occurring addiction and PTSD can create a vicious cycle that is difficult to break free from. It can wreak havoc on relationships and lead to financial difficulties and loss of employment. In addition, co-occurring addiction can often exacerbate PTSD symptoms, increasing the risk of suicide and self-harm.
Treatment for PTSD and co-occurring addiction
Treating PTSD and co-occurring addiction requires specialized care. Effective treatment for co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction involves addressing both conditions simultaneously through integrated therapy.
This often consists of a combination of medication, therapy and support to help individuals manage symptoms, overcome cravings and build a strong foundation for long-term recovery.
That said, treatment plans must be tailored to the client’s specific needs, considering factors such as their mental health history, trauma and drug use history.
It’s far from a one-size-fits-all. In some cases, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants may be prescribed for PTSD. At the same time, medications like naltrexone and acamprosate can be helpful in reducing cravings and preventing relapse in addiction. However, these may not be appropriate for everyone.
Much like for PTSD (as mentioned earlier), therapy for co-occurring PTSD and addiction often involves Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and trauma-focused therapy. CBT can help individuals recognize and change negative patterns of thinking and behavior, while trauma-focused therapy, particularly Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), can help individuals process and cope with traumatic experiences that may be contributing to both conditions.
Group therapy can also be effective as it provides a safe and supportive environment where individuals can connect with others who have had similar experiences, share their thoughts and feelings and learn coping skills from one another.
During group therapy sessions, individuals may discuss their experiences with substance abuse and trauma, explore the ways in which these issues are interconnected, and learn practical strategies for managing triggers and cravings.
Group therapy also provides an opportunity for individuals to practice social skills, build positive relationships and receive feedback and encouragement from others who understand what they’re going through.
With the right treatment and support, individuals can break the cycle of addiction and reclaim their lives.
How Tikvah Lake Recovery Center can help
If you’re struggling with PTSD and addiction, a specialized treatment program with dedicated care may be exactly what you need.
At Tikvah Lake Recovery Center, we know that the main issue facing dual-diagnosis patients is the difficulty in effectively coordinating treatment. That’s why we provide a fully integrated approach to recovery, meaning both substance use and mental illness can be treated simultaneously.
Our experienced team understands the nuances of dual diagnosis and can ensure that you’re fully supported throughout your recovery.
Specialized luxury treatment in Florida
In the heart of beautiful Florida, nestled alongside a stunning 200-acre lake next to a State Park, the Tikvah Lake Recovery Center is a 15,000-square-foot Florida mansion that provides a safe and comfortable haven for those struggling with a range of dependencies and mental health problems.
With perfect weather, luxury comfort and secluded privacy, we believe we’ve created the perfect setting for recovery from PTSD and addiction.
Our campus boasts a pool, spa, dock and boat – plus plenty of sunshine and fresh air. There’s also a library, lounge areas, gourmet kitchen, private therapy spaces, recreational rooms and large bedrooms with en suites – all designed to help you relax and feel at home and increase your chances of success.
With specialized luxury treatment at the Tikvah Lake Recovery Center, you can heal in a serene and tranquil environment, free from the distractions of everyday life. The comprehensive treatment programs, coupled with holistic healing techniques, offer a path to restoration for even the most severe cases.
If you’d like to talk to us about dual diagnosis and how we can help, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our admissions counselors today.