Those who are struggling with both substance use disorders and mental health issues benefit from the specialized treatment available at dual diagnosis treatment centers. Many dual diagnoses are made during the comprehensive assessments of clients wanting to get admitted into addiction treatment programs. Alongside substance use disorders, common co-occurring issues include trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If you’re looking for a PTSD treatment center in Portland, Maine, contact Casco Bay Recovery. Reach out to our team to ask about our PTSD treatment program today.
What Are the Signs of PTSD?
Trauma can cause many physical and mental health symptoms, some of which could be signs of PTSD. Those who have experienced trauma can develop acute stress disorder, PTSD, or other issues.
Acute stress disorder is typically an immediate response to a traumatic event. It can last anywhere from three days to three weeks. People with this disorder are at an increased risk of developing PTSD. Complex trauma symptoms can also develop at any time—examples include attachment issues, chronic emotional neglect, and domestic abuse.
PTSD symptoms may arise within one month of a traumatic event, but can also appear years after it. These signs of PTSD are generally grouped into four types:
Intrusive memories: These could appear as upsetting nightmares about the traumatic event, flashbacks, or severe bouts of emotional distress upon being reminded of a traumatic experience.
Avoidance: People with PTSD may avoid talking or thinking about a traumatic event, as well as anyone or anything that reminds them of it.
Changes in mood and thinking: This can include memory problems, detachment from family and friends, hopelessness about the future, emotional numbness, and difficulty in experiencing positive emotions.
Changes in physical and emotional reactions: Also called arousal symptoms, these may include being easily frightened or startled, difficulty in concentrating, irritability, self-destructive and aggressive behavior, and trouble sleeping.
What to Expect in PTSD Treatment
Several approaches have been shown effective in PTSD treatment:
- Psychotherapy: Some forms of talk therapy have been observed to treat PTSD effectively. Most of them are based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to identify and correct unhealthy thought patterns.
- Neurological therapies: Treatments that focus on the brain and nervous system, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and emotional freedom technique (EFT), are effective at reducing neurological PTSD symptoms.
- Medications: Doctors can prescribe FDA-approved selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as paroxetine and sertraline, to treat PTSD.
- At-home coping tools: Common ways to process trauma by yourself include writing, meditating, and practicing yoga.
How We Treat PTSD in Our Dual Diagnosis Treatment Rehab Center
If a client struggles with both PTSD and a substance use disorder, they will need to be treated for both at the same time. To accomplish this, they will need to get admitted into a dual diagnosis treatment rehab center.
Addiction is a chronic disease that develops slowly, over time. For example, people experiencing extreme emotional and physical discomfort due to a traumatic incident may deal with their pain by self-medicating with their chosen substance. Changes in their behavior resulting from their eventual substance use disorder will keep trauma and possible PTSD from being diagnosed sooner. PTSD makes the addiction worse, and the cycle continues until something significant happens, such as a dangerous overdose.
A two-pronged approach is needed for co-occurring mental issues that include substance use disorder. To heal, clients need to have both the underlying condition and addiction treated simultaneously to avoid relapse.
Learn About Casco Bay Recovery’s PTSD Treatment Program in Portland, Maine
Searching for a PTSD treatment center in Portland, Maine? Contact Casco Bay Recovery’s team online or call us at 844.940.4407.
PTSD and Addiction Treatment Program
The human mind is amazing in that it was made with significant resilience and is able to deal with experiences that are considered traumatic. It does, however, have a limit. Different people have different thresholds for how much trauma they could handle.
Once this threshold is passed, the experience becomes a traumatic experience that might take a significantly long period to process, or sometimes, not at all. Once the mind is unable to properly process the traumatic experience, it could lead to post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
The worrisome part of this is that those who could not cope with the experience try to do so using either drugs or alcohol. This is why unresolved PTSD and addiction often go together.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
When a past experience leaves a significant impression on a person, their mind is usually equipped to help process it. If it was a significantly bad experience. Sometimes the mind treats it like a learning experience. In other times, it is simply buried so deep within the memory that it becomes difficult to recall.
There are many, however, who cannot process the experience at all. While it might appear that they have forgotten the experience, they might come across something in life that brings it all back, including how terrified or stressed they were about it, and all the anguish and mental torture of it comes rushing back.
This is the torment brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder. Those who are able to muster enough courage to talk about it with someone often find therapy to be helpful. Others, however, find it easier to find the false coping mechanism offered by alcohol or drugs.
PTSD is peculiar in that it could manifest as early as a month or so from the time the trauma was experienced, or it could take years before it ever does, and only come out when triggered.
Much like the time variations in the manifestation, PTSD is experienced in a variety of different ways including:
In some cases, the events relevant to the actual trauma could repeat itself in the person’s mind. This could come in the form of sudden flashbacks to the event, where specific details could still be as clear as the time it happened.
These memories could also manifest in the form of disturbing dreams or outright nightmares related to the event. Sometimes the sudden flashback could be so clear and mesmerizing that the person appears to be daydreaming.
The dreams about the event, on the other hand, could have some variation but is still largely centered upon the event itself. It could be so distressing that the person might either have fitful sleep because of the nightmares. It can make an individual fearful of going back to sleep.
Traumatic events are, of course, things no one wants to experience again. This is why some people become so averse to some things, places, people, or even dates that they associate with the trauma.
This avoidance could become so driving that they will do anything in their power to steer clear of it. An example of this is when some people become increasingly anxious or stressed out by an upcoming event or holiday.
It is not uncommon for people to want to skip certain dates, such as the Yuletide season, Thanksgiving, or even the Superbowl because they had a terrible thing happen to them at the time. Many would react to this with either humor or even outright disgust, as they only see it as an overreaction.
Pessimism, Detachment, and Indifference
There are people who are seemingly always in a bad mood or harbor a negative outlook on life in general. Some may attribute this to having depression, although the depression itself could be rooted in some past trauma.
People who suffer from one form of PTSD or another could have a very negative demeanor, opinion, and disposition about most things. Many describe it as being “needlessly gloomy and despondent” about most things, if not all things.
The behavior is particularly pronounced in people who exhibited a cheerful and jovial personality just before the traumatic event that changed them. They could be so melancholic to be with that many prefer not to be in their presence.
In other cases, people with PTSD could simply be so detached and uncaring that it seems they really have no feelings or emotions at all. They would display a complete lack of interest in anything and everything and would simply prefer to be left alone.
Sensitivity, Irritability, and Overreaction
On the other side of the emotional and behavioral spectrum, some people might become uncharacteristically sensitive, reacting to even the slightest thing. They could be calm and collected one moment and then irritated and angry all of a sudden. They could also be so emotionally fragile that they have an exaggerated response to anything.
This exaggerated response could also manifest in the form of the person finding it difficult to trust anyone or anything. In others, it could even be full-blown paranoia and even aggression.
How Is PTSD Diagnosed?
To fully comprehend if a person is indeed suffering from PTSD, a physician needs to know specific details relevant to the trauma. Should this not be possible or enough, there are also a number of tests that could be performed:
A person’s behavioral change could also be traced to some physical trauma they could not even be aware of. A past injury or event could have caused some physical damage that became worse over time, particularly if it has any neurological implications to it.
In other cases, it could be due to some undiagnosed disease that was causing pain or some other biological stress that affected the person, causing the manifestations of PTSD and substance abuse consequently.
Displaying behavior similar to a personality disorder is not enough to determine if a person indeed has it. It could be due to some mental illness, psychological stress caused by previous trauma, or some other factor.
A professional needs to conduct a thorough interview as well as the specific psychological exams needed to ascertain if indeed a person is suffering from PTSD or if it is something else entirely.
There are instances wherein PTSD is brought out by specific triggers. Being able to identify these triggers could tell a lot about what the person is suffering from, as well as how best it be treated.
The triggers could reveal if the manifestation of PTSD is brought on by a physical reaction or a psychological one. Being able to establish this could help a great deal in assessment and finding a solution to the person’s troubles.
How are Co-occurring PTSD and Substance Abuse Disorder Treated?
In cases where there is a co-occurring instance of both PTSD and substance abuse disorder, there is an imperative need to understand and assess the situation further. A large percentage of people seeking treatment for substance abuse often exhibit signs of experiencing PTSD. This could create certain complications, as it becomes unclear if the PTSD led to the substance abuse, or if the PTSD should be attributed to some other issue that also needs to be addressed.
Determination of Genetic Predisposition to PTSD and Addiction
Many professionals will argue that no one is “born into addiction”, and this may well be true, but there are people who are born with a genetic predisposition to adopt and use external options, such as alcohol and drugs, instead of relying on internal coping mechanisms to deal with stressful instances when encountered.
This determination helps in assessing the specific type of treatment that could be appropriate and more effective for the person.
Use of Causality Model
Much like the chicken or the egg argument, there are still many experts who believe that stress reaction could become PTSD when aggravated by substance abuse. This argument suggests that a person could already have underlying issues that they were burdened with. These issues could be something that did not affect their behavior at all, but at the same time, the person was unable to completely resolve it, so it was there all along.
Upon being exposed to alcohol or drugs, or perhaps both, they might have begun to believe that they found a better way to deal with the underlying issues. In reality, the issues only persisted with the addiction masking this realization.
This model suggests which of the two co-occurring issues, addiction and PTSD, should be addressed first. Treating both at the same time could just prove to be laborious and not as effective.
Seeking Safety Method
This method proposes to first ensure that the patient is prevented from doing further harm first before any other form of treatment is done. Thus far, treatment centers and therapists agree that while it does take longer in the greater scale of recovery, it does prove to be more effective.
This treatment seeks to minimize or even eliminate any further exposure to past traumas just to determine triggers, extent, or any other data typically required from other methods. The primary goal of this method is to provide as safe an environment as possible for the person to feel secure.
This method has proven to be effective in treating soldiers and relieving them of their PTSD symptoms. This also later resulted in a decrease and eventual willingness to undergo therapy and rehabilitation for any concurrent substance abuse they developed to cope with the trauma.
Casco Bay Recovery: An Expert Solution for Treating PTSD and Addiction
There is no single cure or treatment for problems and issues that could have been with a person for as long as they can remember. This is why the professionals at Casco Bay make an effort to treat each and every patient as a unique individual requiring dedicated care and attention.
We develop personalized treatment plans to address the causes and symptoms related to each case of dual diagnosis. Your experience is unique and your treatment should be the same. We offer a variety of programs and therapies to develop a specialized approach for you or your loved one’s situation. Contact us today to learn how we can help.