PTSD and addiction is not something you can deal with alone. Just take it from Alexa, a 24-year old woman who came to our facility after severe depression, addiction problems, and an eating disorder as a direct result of an accident she was involved in as a late teen.
“I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t function, I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t live. Every time I closed my eyes I saw the accident and all of it’s horrific details. Every time I opened my eyes, my thoughts would race and fear would consume every moment. I insisted to everyone that I was fine and didn’t need help. Instead, I sought help in pills and alcohol. Whenever I would get high or drunk, I would be finally able to numb everything out. I’d be able to laugh and forget for a moment the terrible things I had been through.
At first it seemed like a godsend. After a while, the PTSD and addiction met somewhere in the middle and I’d turn into a bumbling mess even when I was under the influence. So it took more and more alcohol and xanax and klonopin to numb my thoughts. I almost overdosed three times. I tried to kill myself twice. If I didn’t get professional help I wouldn’t be here today. It was only in treatment that I realized that you need to actually deal with trauma in order to allow yourself to move on.”
PTSD and Addiction is Tied Together
Like Alexa, many people are under the wrong impression that going through a traumatic situation is something you can simply push aside and keep moving away from. These people often end up suffering for longer than they should, and seeking unhealthy ways of coping instead of good ways to put the past behind them. Most often this manifests into PTSD and addiction, combined.
PTSD is short for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is brought on by any kind of traumatic event – an accident, injury, natural disaster, emotional or physical abuse, and much more. There is no clear cut determination that qualifies a person to have PTSD, it all just depends on the circumstances and that individual. However, it is always important to follow up with a doctor if you have symptoms of PTSD, which can include:
- Irrational Fear
- Sleeplessness and nightmares
- A feeling of impending doom
- Anxiety and depression
- Withdrawal from regular activities and social events
These are just a few of the many symptoms of PTSD. PTSD and addiction goes hand in hand because so many people like Alexa try to numb out their symptoms and memories by using and abusing drugs or alcohol. It is unhealthy to do so for a number of reasons.
First of all, drugs and alcohol may provide a temporary relief, but this only lasts for a few hours, or at most – a day. When the high or buzz leaves, you are left with just as many negative thoughts and feelings, only this time you have a hangover or withdrawal to deal with.
Second, bottling up your feelings never works. It is important to address your trauma and face it head on in order to move forward. There are healthy practices of things you can do in order to cope with your trauma. Through therapy and with the help of doctors, you can learn how to put the past behind you and understand that whatever you went through, no matter how tough, it does not need to shape your future.
PTSD and addiction go together, and here at Willow Place we see them together all the time, which is why we have a special program just for trauma. Together, we help to find the source of the negative event in your life and make it a thing of the past. Opening up a bright and fearless, sober, future.