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Veterans, PTSD, and Addiction: How Treatment Can Help

PTSD Treatment for Veterans, PTSD Treatment for First Responders

In 2020, approximately 5.2 million Veterans experienced a behavioral health condition. More than half of Veterans with a mental illness did not receive treatment within the past year, and more than 90 percent of those experiencing a substance use disorder did not receive treatment.

It’s clear that Veterans are at high risk for facing mental health challenges. When their service has led them to experience violent or otherwise traumatic events, and when they are not given the resources they need to process those events in a healthy way, they may develop trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one type of trauma disorder common among Veterans, and Veterans with PTSD are at higher risk for addiction than those without a trauma disorder.

If you are a Veteran experiencing PTSD symptoms or addiction, our trusted team at Iron Bridge Recovery Center is available to help. 

How Does PTSD Form?

A person experiencing a traumatic event of any type can develop PTSD. The symptoms often become evident about three months after that initial event. 

When a traumatic event occurs, the brain moves into the “fight or flight” response. This is meant to help a person to protect themselves from real danger. However, when some Veterans experience those traumatic events, the brain does not react properly. It does not work to move through the trauma but instead creates a type of barrier around it.

When this happens, a person may experience moments of reliving the initial terror. They may hear a sound or experience an intense emotion that links them back to the traumatic event. This can spiral out of control quickly if a person is unable to distinguish between a memory and current events. Even in its milder forms, PTSD is debilitating.

While the National Institute of Mental Health shares that 6 out of every 100 people will experience some PTSD at some point in their life, Veterans are more likely to develop PTSD due to the experiences they have.

PTSD and Addiction

The link between PTSD and addiction is pretty well understood. A person experiencing PTSD is likely to look for ways to self-medicate. They may turn to alcohol, for example, as a way to stop thinking about the trauma. They may be able to use substances to dull their thinking or to mask what is occurring.

What is critical to understand is that addiction and PTSD are both treatable conditions in a professional setting. However, it is critical to get help for both at the same time.

As a Veteran, you may turn to alcohol or other substances as a way to cope with the thoughts you have, the pain you experienced, and the trauma you do not want to relive. You may also be experiencing dependence on substances as your brain works to cope with PTSD.

What Can Be Done to Treat PTSD and Addiction?

A person with PTSD has a mental health disorder that requires treatment. A person dependent on alcohol or drugs also has a condition that requires treatment. When you enter our treatment center in Chester, VA, you gain access to support for both conditions at the same time, providing you with relief.

Treatment for PTSD does not necessarily involve reliving what happened to you. For many people, the thought of having to talk about it is simply too hard. Many people benefit from a combined approach to therapy that includes:

  • Detox, in situations where a person has a moderate to severe level of addiction
  • Cognitive processing therapy, a type of talk therapy that helps with the management of past trauma
  • Prolonged exposure treatment could work for some people as well
  • Substance use disorder treatment will also be necessary and will include hands-on support for learning about addiction and how to manage it
  • Medications may be helpful to control PTSD symptoms and help a person to manage their overall mental health

As a Veteran, you have access to mental health treatment. The key is knowing that it can work and that you can see remarkable improvement in the way you think, feel, and live your life. If you are ready to stop letting your past pain define your future, allow our team to guide you.

Find the Treatment You Need at Iron Bridge Recovery Center

PTSD and addiction do not have to limit you any longer. No matter how complicated and intense your experience is as a Veteran, you deserve to be free of the pain you feel. Let us help you. At Iron Bridge Recovery Center, we provide hands-on support through the most innovative treatment programs and evidence-based strategies. We can help you as well. Contact us now to learn how.

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