One of the most common illnesses that can accompany addiction is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is true not only for men (such as in the case of war and physical violence) but also for women (such as rape and domestic violence). In all of these cases, when a person experiences trauma, one common result of the experience is a felt sense of loving their sense of personal power. In the experience of a life-threatening situation, especially when a person cannot do anything to prevent harm to themselves, they might feel their empowerment has been impaired. Interestingly, there seems to be a relationship between one’s personal sense of power and the powerlessness that often comes with addiction.
Addiction is frequently recognized as the experience of losing the ability to control one’s drinking or drug use. In fact, one of the hallmark signs of addiction is when a person may want to stop using but cannot. One way that this experience has been described by Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups is powerlessness. It is because of this that the first step of the 12-step program is to recognize that one has lost their power to the substance they’ve been addicted to.
The relationship between addiction, powerlessness, and PTSD hasn’t gone unnoticed by professionals in the mental health field. It is for this reason that treatment has begun to address how powerlessness has affected a variety of life areas. For instance, when a person is healing from addiction and PTSD, it’s important that he or she learn how to develop financial empowerment perhaps by returning to work, emotional empowerment by learning to make new choices and develop new coping tools, and psychological empowerment by learning how to respond to life in a new way. Rather than feeling victimized by life’s circumstances, during treatment a person has the opportunity to learn how to take charge of their life, particularly by creating a new sober-free and wellness-oriented life.
Some of the areas that are important for a person to consider when receiving treatment for PTSD and/or addiction include:
- Creating new bonds with others who are sober, safe, and healthy
- Finding meaningful work and/or volunteer experiences
- Developing new coping tools to manage stressful life situations
- Meeting all of one’s basic needs
- Learning how to avoid confrontational situations in order to stay safe
- Developing a network of supportive people and places
Also, because of recent advances in the mental health field, there may be areas of treatment that might better address a person’s needs depending upon whether they are female or male. Recent research has made it clear that there are differences in the needs of men versus women when it comes to addiction, mental illness, and treatment.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, such as PTSD, and/or addiction, contact a mental health provider. A professional in the mental health field can provide you with a variety of resources to get sober and developing psychological well being.
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