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PTSD and Opioid Drug Prescriptions

PTSD and Opioid Drug PrescriptionsPosttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a devastating psychological disorder caused by exposure to trauma, such as combat violence, natural disasters, sudden personal loss or concussion. Individuals suffering from PTSD are at increased risk for substance abuse and addiction and should be particularly careful when considering the use of addictive prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.

Causes and Symptoms of PTSD

Trauma can overload the emotional processes of the brain. The effect is similar to an electrical overload and a circuit breaker. The brain partially shuts down to avoid more widespread mental damage. This leaves emotions and experiences unprocessed, creating the following symptoms:

  • Nightmares
  • Emotional outbursts, including verbal and physical abuse of others
  • Flashbacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Emotional detachment
  • Self-injury
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Addiction

These symptoms may present any time from shortly after the traumatic experience to years later.

How Opioids Work

Opioids are synthetic opiates. They function in much the same way as heroin or opium by binding to special chemical receptors that transmit and receive physical and emotional pain signals in the brain. This makes them highly effective at blocking the moderate to severe pain that tends to accompany surgery or injury.

People wrestling with PTSD will often find that when they first take opioids they feel a rush of euphoria that blocks their underlying anxiety and distress. The brain recognizes this relief on a subconscious, emotional level and then demands it again and again. Some people may become hooked on opioids the first time they use them while others develop the addiction more gradually. Either way, though, addicts must find relief from their PTSD symptoms if they are ever going to be successful in overcoming their need for opioids.

Treating PTSD and Opioid Addiction

Successful PTSD and opioid dependence treatment requires a fully integrated and holistic approach that takes all aspects of the patient’s physical and mental health into consideration. This kind of comprehensive treatment often involves the following therapeutic elements:

  • Specialized counseling, such as cognitive or dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Careful diagnosis of any other co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Medically supervised detox
  • Support group gatherings
  • Coping skill development and practice
  • Family counseling and support
  • Empowering education about the causes, functioning and treatment of PTSD and addiction

These programs may be offered in either outpatient or residential formats. Recovery for PTSD can take years to accomplish, and some people may experience symptoms for the rest of their life. Learning to manage those symptoms is the key to living a long and healthy life.

PTSD and Addiction Help

For more information and answers to any questions you have about PTSD and opioid addiction, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline. Our counselors can help with a variety of services and can connect you with the best program for your exact needs. PTSD will not just go away. Don’t surrender your life to this deadly disease. Call for help today.

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