Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic mental health disorder that can occur after someone has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSD impacts millions of people every year and can affect people of any age. Since every individual is different, not everyone who experiences the same trauma will develop PTSD. It is normal to experience upsetting memories following trauma. For most who go through a traumatic event, symptoms get better within a relatively short period. When symptoms worsen, last for one month or longer, and interfere with daily functioning, it can indicate PTSD. If this describes you or a loved one, a trauma therapy program can help you find relief from your symptoms.
At Westwind Recovery®, we know that people often need help recovering from the negative impacts of trauma, including addiction. To learn more about the benefits of our trauma therapy program, reach out via our online form or by calling 855.340.8832.
Understanding the Connection Between Trauma and Addiction
Trauma is an emotional reaction to a distressing experience. Untreated trauma frequently leads to mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. There is a strong connection between trauma and addiction as many people turn to drugs or alcohol seeking temporary relief from their psychological stress, otherwise known as self-medicating. Trauma can be caused by sudden, unexpected events or by continual exposure to harmful situations. Examples of traumatic events include:
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Witnessing or experiencing violence
- Serious accidents or life-threatening illnesses
- Living through or witnessing natural disasters
- Being the victim of a crime, such as physical or sexual assault
- Living in or participating in a combat zone
- Domestic violence, either as the observer or the victim
Events are perceived as traumatic to the degree that they threaten a person’s sense of safety and well-being. Traumatic events trigger our natural fight or flight instinct, raising cortisol levels. Cortisol is crucial to the body’s stress response and is usually a short-lived reaction. In people with PTSD, cortisol levels are altered, becoming sometimes too high and sometimes too low, leading to physical and psychological impairments.
The highly knowledgeable and experienced treatment team at Westwind Recovery® understands the effects of trauma and how the same trauma that triggered PTSD can also give rise to a substance use disorder. We offer trauma therapy, among other programs to help you or your loved one overcome these challenges.
Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction
Compared to those who do not have PTSD, people who have it are more likely to have substance use disorders. In addition to altered cortisol levels, the brain produces fewer endorphins—one of the chemicals that helps us feel happy—following a traumatic event. Another reason people with PTSD turn to drugs or alcohol is to feel the effects of the temporary rise in endorphins that they produce. Over time, these individuals often rely on drugs or alcohol to alleviate feelings of depression, anxiety, or irritability and try to forget painful memories. The problem is that substance use disorders and PTSD symptoms become intertwined, and both become intensified.
PTSD and addiction affect common areas of the brain, which may be why they both respond well to similar treatment modalities. In seeking treatment for PTSD and addiction, it is critical to find a dual diagnosis treatment center because co-occurring disorders need to be treated simultaneously. Fortunately, Westwind Recovery® provides comprehensive holistic and evidence-based treatment for many co-occurring disorders, including PTSD and addiction. Our treatment includes:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- EMDR therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Medication-assisted therapy
- Solution-focused therapy
- Trauma-informed therapy
- Experiential therapies
Find Help for PTSD and Addiction at Westwind Recovery®
Often, while people are aware of their mental health or substance use issues, they do not recognize that the source of their issues is unresolved trauma. Other times, individuals are acutely aware of their PTSD, but not their substance use disorder. The trauma therapy program at Westwind Recovery® helps clients understand the complete picture and provides a path to healing.
Contact Westwind Recovery® today to learn more about recovery from PTSD and addiction. Call 855.340.8832 or reach out using our online form.
Dr. Deena is the Chief Clinical Officer of Westwind Recovery®, an award-winning outpatient treatment center in Los Angeles where she oversees the clinical and administrative program and treatment methods. Dr. Deena is a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker since 1993. LCSW #20628. Originally from the East Coast, Dr. Deena has worked running treatment centers, worked as a therapist in psychiatric hospitals as well as school settings and currently has a thriving private practice in the LA area. Dr. Deena has appeared regularly on the Dr. Phil Show as an expert since 2003. She has also been featured on many other TV shows, podcasts and has contributed to written publications as well as podcasts.