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Natural disasters and mental health: Hurricanes can raise risk of PTSD, addiction

Posted on 09-12-2017 Posted in PTSD, Treatment - 0 Comments

John (name changed) was in a state of shock when he saw the large-scale devastation that Hurricane Irma had caused to his home and neighborhood. He had just joined a therapy center in Florida to recover from the emotional numbness and distressing recollections of certain traumatic experiences that had also resulted in him developing an addiction. His family and friends advised him to seek treatment when they found out how he had been abusing his wife’s prescription medications to deal with his problems. Now that nothing much is left of the rehabilitation center other than a mere heap of rubbles because of the hurricane, John is in a dilemma about how to deal with his co-occurring mental illness and addiction problem. In fact, having had to face the storms, he is also worried since his symptoms of extreme anxiety only seem to be aggravating.

The impact of stress because of exposure to traumatic conditions in development of addiction problems has long been the focus of various studies. Several researches have underscored how disturbing experiences like living through natural disasters can have a serious effect on one’s physiological and psychological health. Distressing experiences can result in the affected exhibiting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Persisting signs of PTSD can result in increased tendency to abuse substances and later develop a dependence.

Some parts of the United States are in the grip of Hurricane Irma. The hurricane resulted in many people with addiction missing their treatment, forcing them to look for cheap alternatives like street drugs to deal with their withdrawal problems. Prior to the hurricane hitting the state of Florida, federal agencies and health care volunteers were busy handing out extra syringes to heroin users or providing methadone in advance to avoid unwarranted situations of relapse in people afflicted with addiction. Moreover, people already hooked on one kind of drug or the other tend to avoid evacuation efforts in a bid to remain close to their drug dealers or continue to share needles with other heroin users, raising the risk of suffering from HIV and hepatitis.

Does trauma reinforce addiction problem

Psychologists say trauma may cause the affected to suffer from panic attacks, extreme anxiousness, eating disorders, nightmares and PTSD. People suffering from mental health problems tend to seek refuge in drugs, alcohol, pain relievers or any other substance that can lend them a high or help them to escape the pain and fear they strive to get rid of. While substance use results in temporary relief only, the added stress of being addicted makes life more difficult.

While those in long-term recovery do not find it much difficult to deal with the duality of stress and addiction, drug users recently admitted to addiction recovery centers across Florida are finding it tough to restrain themselves from taking drugs owing to the interrupted treatment due to the disaster.

Road to recovery

PTSD is a grievous mental problem that can lead to disastrous results, if not treated timely. The disorder has become more pervasive with Americans finding themselves helpless against natural disasters like Hurricane Irma that leave behind a trail of devastation.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women in the U.S. have at least one traumatic experience in their lives. In addition, statistics point out how roughly 8 million adult Americans develop PTSD in any given year.

Sovereign Health understands how taxing it can be for some people to be battling mental illnesses like PTSD on a regular basis. With the aim to help more and more Americans avail the necessary treatment of PTSD, our post-traumatic stress disorder treatment center in Florida offers a holistic combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological modalities. If you or your loved one is suffering from PTSD and is looking to connect with the best center providing treatment of PTSD near you, call our 24/7 helpline number today. You can also chat online with one of our representatives for further assistance.

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Sovereign Health Group is a leading addiction, dual diagnosis and mental health treatment provider. Call our admissions team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get the help you deserve.

The dual diagnosis program was what attracted me to Sovereign Health. My therapist was always open for discussion and the group sessions were very informative and educational.

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