Opioid Use Disorder and PTSD
Opioid use disorder is common among people who have experienced trauma or live with PTSD. Many people have experienced trauma in their lives. Some people who survive a traumatic experience also end up with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People with PTSD often experience intense emotional and physical reactions when reminded of the trauma. Anxiety and depression are common with PTSD.
Some people use substances to help themselves cope with PTSD. This is always a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. For some people, opioids cause situations that introduce further trauma to their lives. Research shows that people with mental health disorders are more likely to be victims of domestic violence and other types of crime.
PTSD and Opioid Addiction
Many people who have experienced trauma turn to drugs for relief. Opioids are highly addictive drugs and often the drug of choice for someone with PTSD. After all, opioids are considered to be highly effective painkillers. Not only do they halt physical pain, but they can also numb emotional pain.
Many people who survive trauma also have exposure to opioids or other substances. Some may take it as prescribed medication to help with their physical pain. Other people grow up in environments where substance use is daily, and there is access to drugs like opioids.
Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD can happen after any trauma. Typically, people who experience PTSD have had at least three months go by since the trauma and still are living symptoms of it. Some people experience trauma multiple times, especially those who grew up being abused or served in combat situations.
PTSD is a mental health disorder, sometimes described as a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. A person cannot learn to “control” the symptoms, but there are many ways to learn to cope with PTSD. Some people end up self-medicating to help themselves with symptoms of PTSD. However, this can lead to a cycle of self-destruction and guilt.
Traumatic experiences can be complex. Some women experience trauma and near-death experiences during difficult childbirth. Other people may have lived through war, sexual abuse or assault, or even a mass shooting. While all of these situations are different, the symptoms of PTSD are often the same. PTSD can alter a person’s perceptions and beliefs about the world and continue to cause pain and distress years later.
PTSD symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
- Constant thoughts or reminders of the traumatic event. These thoughts can be intrusive and disturbing and may seem to come without a trigger.
- Avoidance of people, places, things, and situations that may remind them of the event. Resistance to talking about or mentioning the event or its aftereffects. For example, on July 4th many combat veterans prefer to go somewhere quiet that doesn’t sound like a war zone.
- Negative thoughts and alterations of the memory of the event. A person may not be able to remember details. They may also experience negative self-talk and self-deprecating beliefs due to their response to the trauma.
- Hypervigilance or constantly feeling “on edge.” A person with PTSD may be irritable or easily startled or always insist on sitting where they can see the door when they go out.
- Depression, anxiety, and isolation, especially when actively using a substance.
A person is not their trauma, but it shapes and molds us through life. People with PTSD may have anxiety attacks, nightmares, and other daily symptoms. Some days may seem “better” than others. While PTSD doesn’t go away on its own, there are highly effective treatments available for it. Getting sober is an important way to get started with healing yourself.
Getting Help for Opioid Use Disorder
Many people from all walks of life have gotten sober despite PTSD or other challenges. We can help you begin the journey to sobriety through science-based Medication-Assisted Treatment.
People with mental health disorders can get sober just like anyone else! Getting treatment for any mental health symptoms will be a key to making peace with yourself and starting your recovery journey.
We help people all over North Carolina access MAT for opioid use disorder. We're here to get you started if you or a loved one needs help. Give us a call at 910-295-7246.
If you are in need of help, please call us at: 910-295-7246 or message us.