It is a well known fact that experiencing trauma can have a serious impact on the course of one’s life. A severe accident, or the loss of a loved one can scar people in seemingly ineluctable ways. If you have ever experienced such trauma, then you know firsthand the scars the event can leave with you, possibly even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An insidious mental illness that if left untreated can lead people to engage in self-destructive behavior. The paradox is such behaviors often take the form of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, which initially can alleviate some of the symptoms of the disorder, but actually make the symptoms worse in the long run. What’s more, self-medicating can also lead to addiction, and what one finds themselves with is a co-occurring disorder—otherwise known as a dual diagnosis.
Symptoms of PTSD can include:
- Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms).
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event.
- Having more negative beliefs and feelings.
- Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal).
PTSD In The Military
While the condition can develop in anyone who experiences trauma, most people you probably associate post-traumatic stress with is the military. Young men and women who go off to fight in armed conflict witness and experience first-hand the horrors of war. In the field of battle even the survivors are victims. After nearly two decades of continuous involvement in the Middle East there are thousands of military personnel who have come home from Afghanistan and Iraq changed.
Ideally, such people would have access to the best treatment money could buy. That is, effective methods of therapy and medication that can counter the symptoms and even repair some of the damage. Unfortunately, the Veterans Administration (VA) isn’t always on top of treating affected personnel, which means many service men and women take to calming their symptoms with substances. In many cases, it is a choice that leads to a dishonorable discharge, which can actually cut individuals off from receiving VA benefits. Therefore, upsetting one’s prospects for obtaining a good job after the military
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that during a four-year period, almost two-thirds of the 91,764 U.S. troops kicked out of the military for misconduct had received a diagnosis for post-traumatic stress, The Washington Post reports. The GAO is urging the Defense Department to do a better job at ensuring commanders consider medical conditions like PTSD when determining how to handle misconduct cases.
Treating Mental Illness – PTSD and Addiction
It is quite common for people with any form of mental illness to suffer from addiction as well. Which condition comes first is not as important as treating both disorders at the same time. Failure to do so usually results in an inability to recovery. At 10 Acre Ranch, we understand that drugs and alcohol can prolong a cycle of avoidance and delay treatment. For more than 25 years, we have treated many clients who courageously served overseas, who self-medicated their PTSD with drugs and alcohol. By addressing both the addiction and the co-occurring disorder they could get back on their feet and lead a fulfilling life.
If you or a loved one is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, and self-medicates, please contact us today. Recovery is possible.