Makana Path Blog

June 4, 2020

Observing PTSD Awareness Month | Trauma and Addiction

trauma and addiction

Understanding the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a critical step toward being able to resolve the causes and symptoms in a healthy way. When observing PTSD Awareness Month, which occurs this month, it is important to also understand the link between trauma and addiction. Trauma can lead to addiction, but those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol may also be susceptible to the effects of traumatic events.

PTSD and Its Symptoms

PTSD can occur as a result of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as a car accident, natural disaster, or a violent crime. It is natural to experience distress after such an incident, but if you are still experiencing the symptoms for months afterwards, you are probably suffering from PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Flashbacks that cause you to relive the traumatic event
  • Bad dreams
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Emotional numbness

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

When you experience these symptoms and are challenged with overcoming the traumatic event, you may be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol to relieve the stress of it all. The Veterans Administration (VA) explains that these are unhealthy coping mechanisms, adding that taking drugs and alcohol to feel better is called substance abuse. Although you think you are able to escape your problems or make your symptoms go away by drinking or taking drugs, substance abuse can actually cause more serious problems.

When you abuse alcohol or drugs, your substance use disorder can also affect your friends and family members. Drinking or using drugs can put your relationships, your job, and your health at risk. You may become more likely to be mean or violent. When under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you are also prone to making additional bad decisions.

COVID-19 and Trauma

It seems appropriate that we are observing PTSD Awareness Month in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the outbreak has caused trauma in many people throughout the world over the past few months. A record number of people have lost their jobs and are financially strained. Given the need to isolate and maintain social distances, people who have had to be hospitalized have not been allowed visitors, including immediate family members. The health effects of the virus itself can be traumatic for those who have been infected.

Researchers predict that diagnoses of PTSD will continue to rise even as the risk of addiction, depressive disorders, and PTSD has doubled between February and April 2020. Feelings of stress have also risen by 38 percent among workers who were recently surveyed. The study also found that feelings of anxiety have risen 54 percent and depressive mood has risen 61 percent.

Recovery from Trauma and Addiction

When you aren’t able to fully process the effects of a traumatic event you may have experienced, your mind and body will continue to treat the incident as a threat. That means you will continue to experience the symptoms, including avoiding places and people that remind you of what happened, and you may be more tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol in an unhealthy and unsafe attempt to self-medicate. Professionals who are experienced in the treatment of trauma and addiction can help you understand why you feel the way you do and can walk you through positive, healthy coping mechanisms.

Treatment options include clinical therapies that help you confront the underlying issues that contribute to your addiction. At Makana Path, our highly specialized trauma therapies help clients understand and safely reprocess trauma to address the trauma and addiction that are challenging your ability to recover. Helpful therapies include:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
  • Life Story Therapy
  • Psychodrama
  • Somatic Experiencing
  • Trauma Egg Exercises

Makana Path Can Help You with Trauma and Addiction Recovery

At Makana Path, we understand the effects related to trauma and addiction. Focused on intensive healing, we work with you to safely reprocess your trauma and regain control over your life through insightful treatment. Our Medical Detox Program is the first step in your recovery from addiction. We also understand the challenges of staying at home and social distancing during COVID-19 and remain open to provide the help you need during these challenging times. To learn more about our Specialized Treatment for Trauma, contact Makana Path today by calling 1-866-922-0776.