PTSD Awareness Day: The Correlation Between PTSD & Addiction

PTSD group therapy

The front group room at Sanford House at John Street for Men

 

There is a strong correlation between trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds our ability to cope. PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. For example, sexual assault, a natural disaster, combat, a life-threatening event, or the death of a loved one may cause PTSD.

 

Self-Medicating Trauma

As a society, we tend to ignore, or not recognize the affects trauma has on us. And when we do recognize trauma, we often prefer to deal with those intense and unregulated emotions through self-medication. It is not surprising. It seems like self-medicating with drugs or alcohol might be the easy way to “numb” ourselves from feeling anything.

 

Because, doing the healthy, proper, therapeutic approach is difficult. There is no quick fix. Therapy causes us to look within ourselves and process all the intense emotions we’ve been suppressing with drugs and alcohol. And the longer one has been suppressing trauma, the harder and longer the process will be to heal and recover.

 

 

Therapy for Healing PTSD…

During group therapy sessions at Sanford House, counselors instruct our clients how to deal with trauma in healthy, manageable ways. I teach an interactive journaling session on “Traumatic Stress and Resilience”.

 

Interactive journaling is a guided writing process that combines spoken language and written language. It is designed to elicit personal reflection. The treatment-relevant information is presented with appealing graphics. And there are many structured opportunities for our clients to respond to prompts. They really seem to enjoy the course.

 

Personal Experience

I have served in the U. S. Army, dealing with unit deployments. I have also been an inner city paramedic. These experiences have made me more empathetic to our clients who have experienced trauma. And because I can relate on a personal level, I am able to give advice born of life experiences.

 

And helping our clients process through their trauma in unique and beneficial ways is what I am all about. I help them to understand that plumbing the root of the traumatic experience will generate healthier outcomes than an attempt to mask the pain with an addictive substance.

 

 

Jonathan Hunt, MA, RBT - Jonathan's experience in the Army with the 16th Psychological Operations Battalion, and his work as a Paramedic serve as excellent qualifications for his position as a Substance Abuse Counselor at Sanford House at John Street. In the past, he also served as Milieu Consultant for adolescents who were involved in the court system. You might say he's seen it all.