Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (commonly known as PTSD) and addiction have always been intertwined. In fact, roughly a quarter of the people dealing with drug or alcohol disorders also suffer PTSD. So it’s not surprising to see research develop on these two topics, including a new study that discusses possible treatment methods.
U.S. News and World Report shared details on these latest findings, which addressed concerns about counseling PTSD sufferers. What they found was that trauma-related cognitive behavioral therapy does not lead to addiction relapses.
This had long been a concern in the psychology community, as there were sincere fears about relapse risks for formerly addicted patients. The thought was that opening up old emotional trauma wounds (be it violence, military combat, or what have you) could trigger an urge to escape via substance abuse.
The research, which was first published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, proved just the opposite. In fact, opening up and addressing traumas was shown to decrease emotional problems among formerly addicted patients.
Study co-author Jessica Peirce discussed the findings with U.S. News.
“Now that we have evidence that treating PTSD won’t impact recovery, patients can request therapy, and mental health providers have a duty to make it available,” she explained. “There is a lot more resilience within this population than many health care providers give them credit for, and not offering the proper treatment is doing patients a disservice.”
The study itself monitored 44 PTSD patients who had previously dealt with addiction problems. Therapy sessions were conducted, all of which delved deep into past traumas. After a series of weeks, researchers found no increase in drug or alcohol use following the counseling. In fact, by the ninth therapy session PTSD severity scores had dropped by as much as 54 percent.
And it should be known that PTSD can take many forms. It is most commonly associated with people who have gone through war or military tours. But it also includes people who have survived physically abusive relationships, been victims of crime or even undergone a painful separation.
The takeaway is that opening up and talking about these deep rooted traumas is important. It’s also a critical tool on the path towards recovery.
This, of course, has been a philosophy that we have believe wholeheartedly at Valley Recovery Center and our program reflects it. We’re just glad to hear that the scientific community is beginning to endorse it as well.