When a loved one is struggling with something like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s hard to know how to help. They may withdraw from social interaction or develop depression. Angry outbursts may occur seemingly at the slightest provocation.
It’s heartbreaking witnessing something like this happen—particularly to someone you love. Unfortunately, these feelings tend to cause us to overlook warning signs that he or she might be self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Co-occurring conditions or dual diagnosis issues like PTSD and addiction are serious and should be addressed immediately.
Learning more about PTSD can help you identify potential triggers and develop ways to deal with them, so you can help your loved one cope in a healthier manner.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a term that has become closely tied to members of our armed forces who may have had difficult experiences in war zones. While that is one way a person might develop PTSD, there are other situations that can lead to this condition.
Trauma has emotional and physical components. A serious injury as a result of an automobile accident or physical violence is traumatic. However, just the threat of these and other potentially fatal situations can be enough to trigger a traumatic response. Abuse, neglect, sexual assault, natural disasters and other dire circumstances can inflict trauma.
PTSD occurs when a person becomes unable to “move on” from the experience days or weeks later. They may have vivid recollections of the events, and it can feel like they’re reliving those traumatic moments over and over again.
Identifying Common PTSD Triggers
Those memories can come flooding back via sensory input. Sights, smells, sounds, tastes and physical sensations that are similar to what was experienced during a physical or emotional trauma can set off an episode.
Visiting the location where the event took place or even similar environments may trigger someone’s PTSD. Reading or hearing news stories about other people’s experience with the same circumstances is another potential trigger.
Being around people related to the traumatic event may cause difficulty, and the anniversary of the event can bring all sorts of feelings and memories bubbling back to the surface.
How to Deal with PTSD Triggers
Lending your support is one of the best ways you can help your loved one deal with PTSD triggers. An open ear is an invaluable tool. Some people may find it easier to write down their thoughts and feelings before discussing them aloud with you.
Understand that the angry outbursts or social withdrawal aren’t conscious decisions being made. These are part of natural defense mechanisms that have broken down while trying to cope with trauma.
Try to avoid making loud noises or sudden, unpredictable movements. And encourage participation in healthy activities like exercise and meditation. You can even join your loved one in these endeavors to keep them company and reap benefits, as well!
If you know that self-medication with alcohol, opioids or other drugs is taking place, you should talk with your loved one about getting help.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Addiction and PTSD at Footprints Beachside Recovery
The compassionate, understanding staff at Footprints Beachside Recovery wants to help your loved one recover from PTSD and addiction. Trauma-resolution therapy is an important part of the process for those struggling with co-occurring disorders like this.
We treat each client as an individual. No two people are exactly the same, so each case is evaluated in order for a personalized recovery to be developed to provide the most comprehensive treatment possible.
Healing from addiction and PTSD requires an approach that addresses the mind, body and spirit. A combination of traditional, evidence-based methods and holistic therapies are provided to address these issues from all angles.
If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD and addiction, contact our team now.