PTSD and Addiction Treatment for Veterans

PTSD

Veterans Day 2018 in the United States of America is Sunday, November 11; but, the country will officially observe the holiday on Monday. Each year, the Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center like to express our gratitude for those who serve bravely in the military. As a treatment center specializing in bringing the light of addiction recovery into the lives of young men, the coming holiday is acutely important. We understand that many people who come back from armed conflict overseas struggle in civilian life. The prevalence of mental illness among such people is high, conditions that include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress or PTSD, and substance use disorder.

The rates of substance abuse or use disorders for male veterans aged 18–25 years are higher compared to civilians, according to a recent study. Substance use disorders can precipitate the development of coöccurring mental illness or can emerge secondary to conditions like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is common among individuals who witness or experience trauma; without evidence-based treatment, men and women are more likely to self-medicate.

The order in which a psychological disorder presents itself pales in importance compared to the need for therapy. Veterans who are unable to access the care they need are likely to continue misusing drugs and alcohol. Continued substance abuse does little to ameliorate PTSD symptoms, leads to or worsens a substance use disorder, and significantly increases one’s risk of self-harm. Veterans who commit suicide have drugs and alcohol in the system regularly.

Young males, struggling with substance use and coöccurring mental illness like PTSD, are encouraged to seek help. Immediately! The more extended treatment is put off, the more deleterious it is to the individual.

PTSD Treatment That’s Right For You

A new study appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that PTSD patients, including veterans and survivors of sexual assault, who have a say in the form of treatment they receive, fare better. The researchers found that patient preference in the course of treatment impacts the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy and use of antidepressants, according to a University of Washington press release. The study was the first large-scale trial of hundreds of PTSD patients.

This research suggests that prolonged exposure and Sertraline are both good, evidence-based options for PTSD treatment -- and that providing information to make an informed choice enhances long-term outcomes," said study lead author, Lori Zoellner, a UW professor of psychology and director of the Center for Anxiety & Traumatic Stress.

Analysis indicates that SSRI antidepressants and prolonged exposure therapy show promise in mitigating the symptoms of PTSD. However, the group of patients who were offered a choice in the type of treatment they receive exhibited:

  • Fewer symptoms;
  • a greater ability to follow their treatment plan;
  • and, some no longer met the criteria for PTSD two-years later.

Almost 75 percent of patients who underwent their preferred method of treatment, completed the program, according to the article. Whereas, fewer than half in the non-preferred group saw their therapy through to the end.

Dr. Zoellner and our team showed that we've got two effective, very different interventions for chronic PTSD and associated difficulties," said study co-author Norah Feeny, a psychology professor at Case Western Reserve University. "Given this, and the fact that getting a treatment you prefer confers significant benefit, we are now able to move toward better personalized treatment for those suffering after trauma. These findings have significant public health impact and should inform practice."

Addiction and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Approximately 50 percent of veterans who need treatment for mental health conditions seek it, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. However, just more than half who receive treatment receive adequate care. Mental health conditions among veterans are no small issue; approximately 18.5% of service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have PTSD or depression. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have substance use disorder.

Studies, like the UW/Case Western, are vital and should help guide screening, diagnosis, and the determination of a treatment plan. It’s also worth mentioning that a large number of veterans are unable to access evidence-based treatment where they live. Such individuals can benefit from seeking help in another area. If you are a male veteran who is struggling with substance use disorder or coöccuring mental illness (dual diagnosis), please contact PACE Recovery Center.

Veterans Day 2018, we would like to honor two of our staff members who served in the U.S. Marine Corp, our Chief Operations Officer Sean Kelly and our Lead Resident Manager Victor Calzada. Additionally, our PACE team members Helen O’Mahony, Ph.D., Hisham Korraa, M.D., and Ryan Wright, M.D. all have extensive experience working with veterans with PTSD and substance abuse issues.

Again, the gender-specific environment at PACE enables men to share openly and without fear of judgment or social pressure. Our team works together with referring physicians and healthcare providers to create individualized dual-diagnosis treatment plans that emphasize continuity of care. Please call 877.405.9411 or submit a confidential online inquiry, to learn more about our innovative program for men.

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