Tag Archives: PTSD

Early Trauma Can Have Long-Lasting Effects on Drug Abuse

Journal of Substance Abuse TreatmentResearchers at the University of Illinois have found yet another reason why childhood trauma can have disastrous effects on a person. According to the new study that was published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, children who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are 67% more likely to require drug and alcohol treatment as adults.

There are all sorts of traumatic instances that can cause a child to have PTSD. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, witnessing violence and death can all contribute to this lifelong emotional issue. The researchers were not focused on the causes of the disorder for this study, as they were looking at ways to intervene upon children before they require drug and alcohol treatment or incarceration. So, when they determined that such a large group of children will end up in treatment after being diagnosed with PTSD, it was clear that they had discovered an entry point for early intervention.

When a child is diagnosed with PTSD this may be the time to introduce various treatments and intervention techniques. This could include education, screening for potential drug and alcohol misuse, or parental education. However, there is more than just a PTSD diagnosis that increases these children’s chances of needing drug treatment in the future. Researchers also found that associating with peers who are troubled and children who have social-emotional difficulties are also more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol in the future, indicating that there are social effects as well that go beyond their initial diagnosis.

Additionally, while early intervention methods are important in helping these kids, aftercare is also important for those that have and need alcohol and drug treatment. This may be a different sort of aftercare regimen than for those who do not have PTSD.

“Traditionally, once we get people into treatment, we put them through the program, then wish them good luck and send them out on their own. However, someone with chronic trauma and substance use problems is probably going to need ongoing care that re-evaluates their treatment plan at regular intervals and addresses issues such as mental health problems or housing and connects them with resources,” remarked Jordan Davis, a doctoral student in social work at the University of Illinois.

Isolating incidents that can increase or decrease a child’s risk of alcohol or drug abuse is crucial when it comes to minimizing the dangerous societal effects of drugs and alcohol. Research like this highlights the importance of early intervention and keeping up to date on potential risk factors.

Treating Alcoholism and PTSD

Those who struggle with an alcohol addiction and also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have often struggled to tackle either of their issues, let alone both of them at the same time. The duality of these two problems can make treating them very challenging. Researches have been looking into possible solutions to these problems and the growing population of people who are addicted to alcohol and have PTSD.

Research like the kind that is being conducted at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina is vital for the long term physical and mental health of those that struggle with an alcohol use disorder and post-traumatic stress.

A combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aimed at treating substance abuse and exposure therapy aimed at treating PTSD seems to be the most effective approach. Attacking the problems individually allows for each issue to receive adequate treatment. Concurrent Treatment of Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE) is the name researchers have given this two-pronged attack to the problems. The research shows that after several months of administering this type of therapy to individuals, many experienced significant gains in mental health.

There are other types of treatment that have shown positive results as well. Some researchers have made headway when administering certain kinds of blood pressure medication in conjunction with therapy. A specific study showed that those that received clonidine had longer time between relapses and stayed sober for longer and reported less stress. While these studies are still in the early stages, it does appear that treating both problems at once is possible.

In the past, many people were concerned about those who suffered from co-occurring disorders. Figuring out which problem to treat first proved to be difficult. Treating the addiction first oftentimes got the person out of immediate danger and allowed them to better focus on their therapy. However, some people argued that treating the mental disorder first allows for better and longer lasting treatment of the addiction. More information seems to indicate that both issues should be addressed concurrently for the best results, though the types of therapies used can vary widely.

U.S. Pledges More Than $20 Million to Study Ways to Ease Soldiers’ Pain

The United States Government recently announced that it will launch research efforts focused on finding alternative ways for members of the military to manage their chronic pain. Thirteen projects will explore alternative therapy options for pain-related conditions as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse and sleep problems, to hopefully lessen the use of narcotic painkillers.

In a government news release, Dr. Josephine Briggs, Director of the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, said that pain is the most common reason for Americans to turn to complementary and integrative health practices. She added, “We believe this research will provide much-needed information that will help our military and their family members, and ultimately anyone suffering from chronic pain and related conditions.”

The 13 research projects will be conducted at the Veterans Affairs medical centers and academic institutions across the country, and will cost close to $22 million over the next five years.

Nearly 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain, and the problem disproportionately affects members of our military, both current and former, according to a 2011 Institute of Medicine study. In the June issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, a report said the rate of chronic pain is 44 percent among members of the U.S. military after combat deployment, compared with just 26 percent in the general population. The report said the rate of use of powerful and potentially addictive narcotic painkillers is 15 percent among U.S. military members after deployment, compared with only 4 percent in the general population.

National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow said prescription opioids are a key tool in managing pain, but doctors prescribing the narcotics more and the increased availability of the drugs may be contributing to the growing misuse of the drugs. “This body of research will add to the growing arsenal of pain management options to give relief while minimizing the potential for abuse, especially for those bravely serving our nation in the armed forces,” Volkow said.