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Women have a higher risk of experiencing trauma and being diagnosed with trauma-related mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with PTSD are often diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD). According to Psychiatric Services, “As many as 80 percent of women who are seeking treatment for substance use disorders report a lifetime history of sexual assault, physical assault, or both.” Research shows that “Comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rates in this population range from 30 to 59 percent, with even higher lifetime rates.” Painted Desert Recovery uses trauma-informed therapy to help women recover from SUD and co-occurring PTSD.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by experiencing or witnessing traumatic events and situations. Some people have difficulty processing and coping with emotionally distressing events. However, not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD. Two people can share the same traumatic event, and only one of them may be diagnosed with PTSD. Researchers are uncertain precisely what causes some people to develop PTSD.
Some known risk factors include:
Any event causing a sense of horror, helplessness, or extreme fear may contribute to the development of PTSD. In some cases, symptoms of PTSD may not manifest until months or years after the traumatic event. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “Many older Veterans find they have PTSD symptoms even 50 or more years after their wartime experience.”
PTSD and substance abuse have multiple overlapping risk factors and causes. Often, people with untreated trauma use substance abuse to cope with the symptoms and side effects of PTSD. In addition, substance abuse may cause some people to experience more severe forms of PTSD and worsen the severity of symptoms. Both conditions can also develop independently. PTSD and substance abuse have the potential to significantly impact a person’s quality of life and their relationships with others.
Many people with PTSD and SUD have untreated childhood trauma, impacting their mental health. According to Depression and Anxiety, “Exposure to traumatic experiences, especially those occurring in childhood, has been linked to substance use disorders (SUDs), including abuse and dependence. SUDs are also highly comorbid with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mood-related psychopathology.” Treatment programs must address the trauma people may have experienced during childhood to help clients heal. Painted Desert Recovery uses trauma-informed therapy to help women process childhood trauma during treatment for co-occurring PTSD and SUD.
PTSD affects many vulnerable populations, including survivors of sexual assault, veterans, and individuals who work in high-stress environments. Some people may worry about the stigma of receiving treatment for PTSD or trauma. Instead of getting professional mental health support, they may resort to self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. PTSD symptoms worsen under the effects of addictive substances, often increasing a person’s stress and lowering their quality of life.
Self-medicating does not fix the problem and causes additional issues. Substance abuse increases the risk of severe injury, illness, accident, or death. However, many people who self-medicate with substances to treat their PTSD remain unaware of the potential dangers. Early intervention and professional mental health treatment is the best way to address PTSD and trauma-related disorders.
The symptoms and side effects of PTSD may overlap with SUD and other mental health disorders. However, some of the most common signs include:
Symptoms exist along a spectrum from mild to severe. Not everyone will experience every symptom of PTSD. Some people may have only a few noticeable signs of untreated trauma. Early intervention and treatment is the best way to avoid developing more severe symptoms of PTSD.
Clients recovering from SUD and co-occurring PTSD benefit from an integrative, whole-person approach to care. Clinicians at Painted Desert Recovery use multiple therapeutic tools to help clients heal and build a solid foundation for a healthier future.
Treatment options clients may choose from include:
Clients are educated about the potential effects of PTSD, trauma, and SUD to ensure they make educated decisions about their treatment.
EMDR therapy is a popular treatment option for individuals with PTSD and co-occurring SUD. The treatment allows people to identify and reprocess traumatic memories without having to relive them through talk therapy. According to the VA, “In EMDR, you will pay attention to a back-and-forth movement or sound while you call to mind the upsetting memory until shifts occur in the way that you experience that memory and more information from the past is processed.” Painted Desert Recovery offers EMDR therapy to clients with co-occurring disorders related to trauma.
Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely to develop substance use disorder (SUD). Some people self-medicate to cope with the trauma, while others may develop PTSD due to experiences caused by substance abuse. Painted Desert Recovery uses trauma-informed therapy to help clients heal from trauma and substance abuse. To learn more about our programs, call us at (844) 540-0353.