National PTSD Awareness Month: Talking Trauma and Addiction

National PTSD Awareness Month: Talking Trauma and Addiction

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In 2010, the United States Congress declared June 27th as PTSD Awareness Day. In 2014, the Senate designated the entire month of June as National PTSD Awareness Month. The purpose of this observation is to raise public awareness of PTSD and promote effective treatments to help those who suffer.

So what is PTSD? And how can all of us help?

Understanding PTSD

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a mental disorder that can develop when someone is exposed to a traumatic event. Some of the most common experiences that cause PTSD include:

  • Warfare
  • Sexual Assault
  • Traffic collisions
  • Life-threaten events

Sometimes people can experience post-traumtic stress disorder even if they are not directly affected by the event directly. According to the American Psychiatric Association:

  • 5% of adults in the United States have PTSD in a given year
  • 9% of people develop it at some point in their life

Signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can include:

  • Dreams, thoughts, or feelings related to traumatic events
  • Mental or physical distress to trauma-related cues
  • Attempts to avoid trauma-related cues
  • Shifts in how a person thinks and feels
  • Increase in the fight-or-flight response

Statistically, most people who experience a traumatic event will not develop PTSD. However, some people are more susceptible to certain forms of trauma.

Women and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD.

  • 10% of women experience PTSD in their lifetime
  • 4% of men experience PTSD in their lifetime

This is largely attributed to sexual assault because women are more likely to experience sexual assault, and sexual assault is more likely to cause PTSD than many other events. Women are also more likely to experience things like:

  • Neglect or abuse in childhood
  • Domestic violence
  • Sudden loss of a loved one

Sadly, women may be more likely to blame themselves for their traumatic experiences than men.

When it comes to how that trauma manifests, some symptoms are more common in women. For example, women are more likely to:

  • Be jumpy
  • Have trouble feeling emotions
  • Avoid things that remind them of trauma
  • Feel depressed and anxious

Men are more likely to have issues with anger and controlling it when dealing with PTSD, but both men and women struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder can develop physical health problems.

Veterans and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Of course, one portion of the population at an elevated risk of PTSD is military Veterans. According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, 20% of Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Combat is one of the most traumatic situations a person can be in. Witnessing death and violence, while also being exposed to life-threatening situations can easily lead to PTSD.

However, something that most people may not realize is the amount of military sexual trauma (MST) that Veterans also experience. MST is a form of sexual harassment or assault that occurs while in the military, and it happens to both men and women during training, peacetime, and in war.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs:

  • 23% of women reported sexual assault while in the military
  • 55% of women in the military experience sexual harassment
  • 38% of men in the military experience sexual harassment

Because there are more male Veterans than female Veterans, over half of all Veterans with military sexual trauma are actually men.

Sadly, one of the most troubling statistics about mental health when it comes to the men and women who serve our country is that according to a SAMHSA study, only around 50% of Veterans who need mental health treatment will receive it.

Post-Traumatic Stress and Substance Use Disorders

Another heartbreaking side-effect of PTSD can be drug and alcohol abuse, which often leads to substance use disorder (SUD).

In some cases, people who experience a traumatic event that causes a physical injury will be treated with powerful painkillers. This is one way that prescription opioids have contributed to the current opioid crisis in the country. Prescription opioids often increase feelings of pleasure and calm inside the brain, which can lead to those struggling with PTSD abusing these medications in order to numb themselves to both their physical agony and their emotional trauma. In fact, prescription opioid addiction is most commonly found to correlate with PTSD.

When it comes to Veterans, developing a substance use disorder with post-traumatic stress disorder is not uncommon. According to studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

  • 23% of Veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan showed signs of SUD.
  • In 2008, active duty and Veteran military personnel abused prescription drugs more than twice the rate as the civilian population.
  • In 2009, the VA estimated around 13,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans suffered from alcohol dependence syndrome and required mental health treatment.

Meanwhile, those who experience sexual assault are also extremely likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a means to cope with their trauma. According to a report by the American Journal on Addictions, 75% of women who enter addiction treatment programs report having experienced sexual abuse. Many studies over the years also report a prevalence of traumatic abuse in childhood.

Ultimately, we find that PTSD can feed into substance use disorder. Many people who struggle to control their emotions and suffer from the residual effects of their experiences try to self-medicate with both legal substances and illicit narcotics.

National PTSD Awareness Month: Call for Better Treatment

For National PTSD Awareness Month we can all do our part to help raise awareness of the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder. The National Center for PTSD is urging people to:

Learn- PTSD treatment works

Connect- Reach out to someone

Share- Spread the word

Online you can get educational materials, support information and resources to help spread awareness. The National PTSD Awareness campaign encourages everyone to work together to promote effective treatment for those who are suffering.

For those struggling with PTSD and substance use disorder, Palm Healthcare Company believes in providing innovative and life-changing treatment opportunities that help people struggling with trauma and addiction to overcome adversity and build a better quality of life. Our comprehensive programs use a holistic approach to help heal the whole person, and our facilities are specially designed to create lasting change. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The Veteran Mental Health Problem We Need to be Talking About

The Veteran Mental Health Problem We Need to be Talking About

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When we talk about fighting the addiction problem in America and better understanding substance use disorder, we have to acknowledge those who are at a specific risk for suffering from substance use. Far too many American soldiers come home only to fight another devastating, heartbreaking battle.

With addiction being considered a mental health issue, it should be clear the contribution of overall mental health makes to causing substance use disorder (SUD) in many cases. Depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all mental health issues that often associated with addiction.

Some of those susceptible to mental health disorders and substance abuse are those who fight for the safety and freedom of our country; our Veterans. So we need to acknowledge the mental health issues that the men and women who sacrifice everything for this nation are suffering through. We need to talk about how to best understand these conditions, and how to best treat those in need.

Veteran Mental Health Disorder Statistics

According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research:

  • 20% of Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or PTSD

  • 5% of Veterans in these two categories have suffered a traumatic brain injury

According to the U.S. Department of Federal Affairs:

  • More than 2 out of 10 veterans with PTSD also suffer from SUD

  • In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning soldiers seen in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.

  • Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.

  • War Veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to be binge drinkers.

  • Among all U.S. adult deaths from suicide, 18% (7,403) were identified as Veterans of U.S. military service

Probably one of the most troubling statistics comes from a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which tragically revealed:

Only 50% of returning vets who need veteran mental health treatment will receive these services.

That is an extremely troubling number. It says a lot about how Veterans are struggling to get the help they need when you realize that only around half of them ever get it.

Veterans and Substance Abuse

One of the hardest issues to address when examining the veteran mental health issue is substance abuse and SUD. It is also one of the most important aspects of Veteran mental health treatment that need to be acknowledged.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that substance abuse among veterans is strongly connected to their experiences in combat and how they struggle to cope with these traumas. Various NIDA studies indicate that:

  • 25% of Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan showed signs of SUD

  • In 2008, active duty and veteran military personnel abused prescription drugs at a rate that was more than twice the rate for the civilian population

  • In 2009, the VA estimated that around 13,000 vets from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from alcohol dependence syndrome and require veteran mental health treatment for this problem.

PTSD and SUD

A lot of people, even those who are not Veterans but have experienced great trauma, use substances to self-medicate and deal with PTSD. Even for those who have never had an issue with substances or may never have even used substances, PTSD increases the risk an individual can develop a drinking or drug problem or SUD.

To make matters worse, PTSD and SUD can likely lead to other problems in life, including health. These Veteran mental health issues can often be associated with:

Ultimately, using drugs or alcohol in combination with PTSD might seem to make things easier, but will actually make them a lot worse. It creates a vicious cycle of numbing and re-traumatizing.

Better Treatment for Veteran Mental Health and Addiction

Many advocates for Veteran services, including the National Veterans Foundation (NVF), believe:

  • More funding needs to be allocated for Veteran mental health care services so that every veteran has easy access to this type of care.
  • Excessive wait times at local VA facilities need to be addressed in order to grant people the access they need to these services.

The NVF website states:

“We can no longer look the other way or continue to underfund the mental health care system that our veterans use.”

This should absolutely be a priority. Strengthening the system that provides mental health care not just to citizens who are suffering, but to our vets who have given so much and desperately need help, is crucial to saving lives from substance use disorder.

Not only does Palm Healthcare Company understand the importance of providing quality addiction recovery treatment, but we also know how important dual diagnosis treatment is for those who suffer from serious mental health conditions like PTSD or major depression along with addiction. Better treatment means addressing both conditions simultaneously, to help the individual heal holistically.

Palm Healthcare Company also knows how important it is to help those first responders and Veterans that put their lives on the line every day. That is why we are a proud sponsor of the Harrigan Foundation’s Annual Run to the Rescue 5K to raise money for the treatment of first responders and veterans.

To find out more about this event, visit the link here:

Harrigan Foundation’s Annual RUN TO THE RESCUE 5K

Mental health care and addiction treatment for vets is an important resource that can save lives and our veterans put their lives back together after experiencing trauma and hardship that causes PTSD and the devastation of substance abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling, you don’t have to fight alone. Please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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