PTSD and Addiction focused on military veterans and active with TRICARE

  • September 25, 2019
  • Posted in Addiction

Many of our vets who served in the Gulf War and in Afghanistan are under-served through VA Hospitals and clinics with limited options and long wait-times for services such as: counseling, substance abuse treatment and treatment for co-occurring disorders, especially PTSD.  Veterans often acclimate much better in treatment settings when they are among other vets.The number of Veterans with PTSD varies by service era:

  • Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
  • Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year.
  • Vietnam War: About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans (or 15%) were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
  1. Reliving the event Unwelcome memories about the trauma can come up at any time. They can feel very real and scary, as if the event is happening again. This is called a flashback. You may also have nightmares. Memories of the trauma can happen because of a trigger — something that reminds you of the event. For example, seeing a news report about a disaster may trigger someone who lived through a hurricane. Or hearing a car backfire might bring back memories of gunfire for a combat Veteran. 
  2. Avoiding things that remind you of the event You may try to avoid certain people or situations that remind you of the event. For example, someone who was assaulted on the bus might avoid taking public transportation. Or a combat Veteran may avoid crowded places like shopping malls because it feels dangerous to be around so many people. You may also try to stay busy all the time so you don’t have to talk or think about the event. 1. 2. 5 The emotional numbness… will just tear away all of the relationships in your life, you know, if you don’t learn to unlock them [and] get those emotions out. — Sarah C. Humphries US Army (1994–2012) 
  3. Having more negative thoughts and feelings than before You may feel more negative than you did before the trauma. You might be sad or numb — and lose interest in things you used to enjoy, like spending time with friends. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can’t trust anyone. It may be hard for you to feel or express happiness, or other positive emotions. You might also feel guilt or shame about the traumatic event itself. For example, you may wish you had done more to keep it from happening. 
  4. Feeling on edge It’s common to feel jittery or “keyed up” — like it’s hard to relax. This is called hyperarousal. You might have trouble sleeping or concentrating, or feel like you’re always on the lookout for danger. You may suddenly get angry and irritable — and if someone surprises you, you might startle easily. You may also act in unhealthy ways, like smoking, abusing drugs and alcohol, or driving aggressively

MAT Medicated Assisted Therapy:  

Being in the addiction field and in recovery myself for over 30 years, I have never been a proponent  of medication assisted therapy.  In the past several years, however: I have known of so many young people dying from opioid overdose that I was inclined to research MAT and change my perception of the issue as it relates to treatment and recovery.  MAT, it seems, gives us the opportunity to work on issues with clients that may have prevented them from acquiring and/or maintaining abstinence in the past.  +While it doesn’t prevent them from smoking marijuana, using Kratom  or cocaine, it does greatly decrease their cravings for opiates and thus keeps them alive to do said treatment/recovery work.
Clinical Director
Ebb Tide Treatment Center

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