Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Abuse Treatment Near Me
Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known by its abbreviation “PTSD,” is a mental health disorder that is caused by exposure to a traumatic event.8 A traumatic event can cause lasting PTSD symptoms, such as intense flashbacks and upsetting memories, difficulties sleeping, or a general feeling of tenseness or unease. When a person is struggling with PTSD, they may attempt to temporarily escape from memories and other uncomfortable emotions through drug or substance use. Continued use of substances to cope with the symptoms of PTSD may lead to addiction. Indeed, A person diagnosed with PTSD is 2 to 4 times more likely to meet the criteria for a substance use disorder diagnosis.1
While PTSD and substance abuse can be debilitating, it’s important to know that there is help available. Recognizing the causes and symptoms of PTSD and how to find the best PTSD treatment facilities near you can help you find recovery.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
The causes of PTSD can be wide ranging and may differ depending on the individual. When diagnosing the condition, symptoms must have been preceded by a traumatic event. These events can include severe trauma from a natural disaster, war, serious accidents, or other life-threatening situations. Events such as an individual being exposed to the possibility of death, serious harm, or sexual violence can increased the risk of developing PTSD. It’s important to understand that PTSD can develop after either direct or indirect exposure to a traumatic event. For example, some individuals may develop PTSD after witnessing a traumatic event, even if not directly or physical affected by it.
People struggling with PTSD will display common symptoms.3 After the traumatic exposure, “intrusion symptoms” begin to occur. These can include upsetting memories, nightmares, flashbacks, and intense emotional and physiological disturbances. Typically, triggers that remind an individual of the traumatic event can cause symptoms to occur or intensify. When struggling with PTSD, a person will usually attempt to avoid their memories, decreasing exposure to situations that bring up flashbacks or memories reminding them of what occurred.
Common symptoms of PTSD may include:3
- Intense, distressing memories, nightmares, or flashbacks.
- Avoidance of individuals or situations reminiscent of the original trauma.
- Negative thoughts about self, others, and the world in general.
- Incapacity to feel positive emotions.
- Increased arousal, often described as hypervigilance.
- Anger and irritability.
- Withdrawal from others and social situations.
- Problems concentrating.
- Insomnia or other sleep disturbances.
What is Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse is the repeated usage of substances, such as drugs or alcohol, despite negative consequences. Individuals struggling with mental health conditions, including PTSD, are often at greater risk of substance abuse. In fact, half of the people diagnosed with a mental illness will also struggle with a substance abuse disorder in their lifetime.4 Prolonged substance abuse can spiral into a substance use disorder (SUD), commonly known as addiction.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5) has eleven criteria used in the diagnosis for substance use disorder:3
- Using a substance more or longer than was originally desired
- Inability to stop using a substance
- The dedication of substantial time to the use of a substance
- Experiencing cravings or urges to use
- Substance use interferes with personal or professional obligations
- Use is continued even if significant problems are caused by the substance use
- Reduced activities, professional or personal, due to use
- Risking or causing harm to oneself, both physical or mental, due to substance use
- Continued use even through physical or mental harms
- The development of tolerance—needing more of a substance for the same effect
- Having withdrawal symptoms—negative physical effects that occur when the amount of a substance in the body decreases
Meeting 2 of the eleven criteria may qualify as a diagnosis for a substance use disorder. The severity of a substance use disorder is determined by the number of symptoms an individual meets. Somebody who meets 2 of the criteria may be considered to have a mild SUD, while somebody who meets 6 or more criteria may be considered to have a severe SUD.
Connection Between Substance Abuse and PTSD
People who struggle with PTSD often seek ways to avoid thinking about their past trauma. These efforts to escape trauma may result in an individual engaging in reckless or self-destructive behaviors. A person struggling with PTSD may use substances like drugs or alcohol as a way to avoid memories, flashbacks, or painful thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, drug abuse can easily spin out of control into substance abuse disorder and outright addiction. When a person is diagnosed with both PTSD and a substance use disorder simultaneously, these conditions become co-occurring mental health disorders.5
Rehab Programs and Options for Dual Diagnosis Treatment
PTSD alone is often challenging to treat. When combined with substance abuse, specialized treatment focusing on the dual diagnosis is often an effective form of treatment.2 PTSD and substance abuse often feed into one another. Substance use provides a temporary escape from the pain and suffering of PTSD, yet the problems from addiction and chronic substance abuse compound and worsen mental-emotional symptoms. To break this positive feedback loop, both conditions should be addressed concurrently.
If you are struggling with PTSD and substance abuse disorder, you should consider treatment specialized and tailored to your specific needs. Understanding and addressing each person as a unique individual can help to improve treatment outcomes.6 This can allow for more personalized, effective care to help you achieve a sustained recovery.
Residential or inpatient treatment for dual diagnosis can provide the tools and health coping mechanisms needed to address the challenges faced by people struggling with co-occurring conditions.7 Inpatient treatment programs for PTSD and substance abuse can provide an individual with 24/7 medical supervision, and with a range of talk, group, and medication therapies. Residential treatment for PTSD and substance abuse is similar to inpatient, but usually lasts several months to a year, while inpatient programs tend to conclude after a few weeks. For those with more mild cases of PTSD and substance abuse, outpatient treatment may allow them to have a structured treatment program while also allowing them to continue working and engaging in regular life activities.
How to Find PTSD Treatment Centers Near Me
Finding a dual diagnosis facility that can offer PTSD and substance abuse treatment may not be easy. There are various aspects to consider when searching for PTSD treatment centers near you. One of the most important things to consider is if the facility will off a personalized, evidence-based treatment plan. Different people have different medical needs. Treatment plans that are tailored to these individual needs can help you find recovery.
It’s also important to determine if you’re okay with traveling out-of-state for treatment, or if a PTSD treatment center near you is best. Both out-of-state and local treatment have their advantages. Attending treatment out-of-state can help you break free of your old environment, but does carry a degree of unpredictability and may put distance between you and established support networks. Local treatment facilities can keep you rooted in a community, but may also put you at risk of experiencing old triggers.
Whether you end up seeking treatment near you or out-of-state, it’s important to take full advantage of the online resources that can help you find PTSD treatment.
Does insurance cover PTSD and substance abuse treatment?
Costs are commonly a concern for any treatment. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurance companies to cover at least part of the treatment for mental health conditions, including PTSD and substance use disorder. Each insurance company has set criteria for what qualifies for coverage and the amount of coverage available. To determine the extent of your coverage for PTSD treatment, it’s best to speaking with your insurance provider, or to check your coverage online.
Articles Related to PTSD Treatment
- McCauley, J. L., Killeen, T., Gros, D. F., Brady, K. T., & Back, S. E. (2012). Posttraumatic stress disorder and co-occurring substance use disorders: advances in assessment and treatment. Clinical psychology: a publication of the division of clinical psychology of the American Psychological Association, 19(3), 10.1111/cpsp.12006.
- Manhapra, A., Stefanovics, E., & Rosenheck, R. (2015). Treatment outcomes for veterans with PTSD and substance use: Impact of specific substances and achievement of abstinence. Drug and alcohol dependence, 156, 70–77.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Publishing.
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2020). Common comorbidities with substance use disorders research report.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2020). Substance Use Disorders.
- Litt, M. D., Kadden, R. M., & Kabela-Cormier, E. (2009). Individualized assessment and treatment program for alcohol dependence: results of an initial study to train coping skills. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 104(11), 1837–1838.
- Schoenthaler, S. J., Blum, K., Fried, L., Oscar-Berman, M., Giordano, J., Modestino, E. J., & Badgaiyan, R. (2017). The effects of residential dual diagnosis treatment on alcohol abuse. Journal of systems and integrative neuroscience, 3(4), 10.15761/JSIN.1000169.
- S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (August, 2021). PTSD: National Center for PTSD.