Veterans have sacrificed so much for our freedoms. Their service provided the ability to live in a society where our differences, opinions, and freedoms are honored and celebrated. However, the sacrifice for many of our veterans is not always something we can physically see with our eyes. Combat PTSD is one of the injuries the you can’t see with your eyes. Many of the scars our veterans walk through life with are not physical. Sure, many of these heroes were physically maimed, lost limbs, and irrevocably changed their body composition due to their service. However, the scars we can’t see affect their lives as they return to civilian life just as much or more so than the ones we can see with a glance.
This article will help you understand Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We will also shine a light on some of the symptoms of this disorder. Additionally, we will show how PTSD increases the risk of substance misuse. Finally, we will provide practical solutions for effectively treating PTSD.
WHAT IS PTSD
According to the Mayo Clinic, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder triggered by a specific event or events — either experiencing it or observing it. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. (1) In other words, PTSD is the lingering effects of terrible events in someone’s life. Veterans are at a higher risk for developing PTSD than the general public. A Veteran is nearly twice as likely to suffer from PTSD than the average American. (2) in a 2014 study, 87% of 3,157 U.S. veterans reported they witnessed or were exposed to at least one traumatic event. (3) To put it simply, our veterans need not just for effective treatment but public understanding of the facts. How do we know if we or a loved one of ours is secretly struggling with PTSD?
Signs and Symptoms of Combat PTSD
The Mayo Clinic outlines some behaviors associated with PTSD:
- Intrusive memories
- Changes in thinking and mood
- Changes in physical and emotional reactions
We will highlight what these behaviors may look like so you can better understand if you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD.
When it comes to Combat PTSD, It may be challenging to identify if someone has intrusive memories unless you are living with them. Knowing if someone has recurring, unwanted memories that cause distress surrounding a specific event can be challenging to pinpoint. The same can be said about reliving the event as if it were happening in the present or the dreams surrounding it. So, if you think someone may be suffering from these symptoms, knowing how to have that conversation can be highly beneficial. Calling Tree House Recovery PDX and gaining insight on approaching a loved one can help you approach the conversation and topic with sensitivity and care.
Identifying avoidance in a loved one is less nuanced. The person struggling will not speak or entertain anything surrounding the event. They will avoid places, activities, and even people that remind them of the event.
Changes in thinking and mood
Suppose someone is experiencing negative changes in thinking and mood. In that case, the symptoms will look like negative talk about themselves and others, hopelessness, long-term memory loss, and a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed.
Additionally, their relationships with others will suffer. Someone with PTSD will have difficulty maintaining close relationships; they will feel disconnected or detached from friends and family and find it challenging to experience emotions. In other words, they will appear emotionally numb. Although these symptoms are observable and shared by the loved one of someone going through PTSD, knowing the strategies to navigate a conversation with someone can seem overwhelming.
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Sometimes, watching our loved ones go through changes in physical and emotional reactions can be not only frightening but heartbreaking. When we watch the people we love go through patterns of self-destructive behaviors or have outbursts of anger and aggressive behavior, we can feel like there is no hope. Watching them struggle with concentration, sleep, and overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame can break our hearts, and we can feel lost. When PTSD begins to take on physical symptoms such as those described above, it is critical to seek immediate help.
At Tree House Recovery, our Admissions Specialists are trained to handle the most difficult situations in a way that will result in a solution-based approach for your loved one.
Dangers of Untreated PTSD
The link between PTSD, Substance Use Disorder (SUD), and Suicide among veterans is tragic, to say the least. More than 20% of veterans with PTSD admit to struggling with SUD. (4) Among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as an example, 63% diagnosed with substance abuse problems were also diagnosed with PTSD. (5) As mentioned above, one of the self-destructive behaviors people who have PTSD engage in is substance abuse. If left untreated, the combination between substance use disorder and PTSD can result in genuinely horrific consequences.
PTSD and Addiction
If a veteran wants the highest chance of rebuilding their lives and no longer living in bondage of SUD and PTSD, they should treat the diagnoses concurrently. Studies have shown that if left untreated clients who suffer from both PTSD and SUD are more likely to overuse costly inpatient addiction treatment services.(6) In other words, someone who has the co occurring issues with SUD and Combat PTSD will seek treatment more often and more times than someone who is suffering from one or the other. Knowing how to treat these two issues simultaneously can drastically enhance someone’s prospects of true recovery. At Tree House Recovery, we have experience in successfully treating both of these issues concurrently. Our team knows how to help anyone who is struggling with these issues to develop a path forward heal through their struggles of PTSD and SUD. At Tree House, you can work with a team that understands the serious nature of PTSD in combination with SUD. If you want the best chance at healing through these issues, our Admissions Specialists are prepared to help you understand the first steps in truly healing through PTSD and SUD.
PTSD and Suicide
People who struggle with PTSD have a higher likelihood of commiting death by suicide. In a study ran from 1994-2006 of all suicide related deaths, it was found that people with a previous diagnosis of PTSD were 5.3 times more likely to commit suicide. (7) Additional studies have suggested that clinical guidelines for individuals with a diagnosis of Combat PTSD should recognize the increased risk of suicide. Understanding the proper treatment of PTSD and applying effective treatment can no only reduce the risk of suicide, but can help someone move into the healthiest version of themselves.
Effective Treatment for PTSD and SUD
Are you ready to help your loved one conquer this battle? The excellent news is at Tree House Recovery PDX. We successfully treat PTSD and addiction together simultaneously. Whether you or someone you love is battling SUD and Combat PTSD, understand that no one has to fight this alone. Tree House Recovery offers confidential assessments, where specialists will help you create and execute a plan that is specific to your unique situation and will work. We can and want to help.
Our treatment teams are trauma and SUD experts. Our team employs proven methods to resolve your traumas and help you regain control of the life you deserve. Our approach is a Mind-Body & Team approach that will optimize your mental, physical and social fitness.
Our comprehensive evidenced-based approach includes the following:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Cognitive Processing
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- SUD Fitness Therapy
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy
- Family Therapy
Tree House Recovery addresses Trauma head on with our unique approach to Writing Therapy. The creator of the Writing program, George Coleman is a veteran. George served as a U.S. Military Intelligence specialist during his three Asian combat tours. George designed the Writing Therapy program to address trauma through specific guided therapeutic exercises. Through his work with hundreds of clients George refined and perfected the program to help people heal through their traumas. Veterans have found peace where there previously was none through their work with our Writing Therapy program. For more information on Writing Therapy, click here. If you have questions about how Writing Therapy works you can call our Admissions Specialists and they can assist with any and all questions.
At Tree House Recovery we want you to know, you are not alone. We want to help all veterans who are ready to move forward with their lives. We stand ready to help and dedicate ourselves to helping you or your loved one overcome Combat PTSD and SUD. Our team specializes in assisting veterans to overcome their struggles and return to their lives as the healthiest version of themselves possible. Our approach will lead to growth in all areas of life and help anyone move into a place of peace, gratitude, and health. Please, if you or someone you love is seeking help, don’t hesitate to contact our experts. You have support waiting on the other end of the line.
- Brown, P. J., Stout, R. L., & Mueller, T. (1999). Substance use disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder comorbidity: Addiction and psychiatric treatment rates. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 13(2), 115–122. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-164X.13.2.115
- Fox V, Dalman C, Dal H, Hollander AC, Kirkbride JB, Pitman A. Suicide risk in people with post-traumatic stress disorder: A cohort study of 3.1 million people in Sweden. J Affect Disord. 2021 Jan 15;279:609-616. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.10.009. Epub 2020 Oct 8. PMID: 33190111; PMCID: PMC7758737.