June is National PTSD Awareness Month: Hope & Healing Are Within Reach
This National Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, Rich Goddard, a registered nurse and trauma specialized clinical counselor at Addiction Recovery Care (ARC), is sharing how trauma can impact an individual’s struggle with substance use – and that healing is indeed possible.
Approximately 12 million adults live with post-traumatic stress (PTS) nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. While PTS is often associated with war, it can occur after experiencing any severe trauma or life-threatening event, including homelessness, domestic violence, a motor vehicle crash, divorce, abandonment or watching a loved one overdose.
“We probably all know someone who has experienced trauma, whether it be a severe or mild case. As a PTS survivor myself, I know that it can leave you feeling isolated and hopeless,” said Goddard. “When a sight, sound or situation triggers trauma from the past, people with PTS may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope and over time come to depend on them.”
Following a traumatic event, PTS and substance use disorder often co-occur. Research shows that people with PTS are more at-risk for substance use disorders, with 27.9 percent of women and 51.9 percent of men with lifetime PTS also experiencing SUD. And for those pursuing recovery from SUD, trauma can make sustained recovery more challenging.
“If you are starting treatment for a substance use disorder and have experienced trauma in the past, overwhelming images, actions, feelings and emotions that have been masked by drugs or alcohol can begin to surface,” added Goddard. “This is normal and a first step to healing.”
Despite trauma’s ability to disconnect us from ourselves and each other, he says healing comes when those connections are replaced with healthier behaviors.
“Hope, healing and restored health is possible,” said Goddard. “At ARC, we take a unique approach to care and offer evidence-based treatment and personalized counseling. We stand ready to help our clients reach recovery from substance use disorders and work through underlying trauma. Long-term recovery is possible.”
In light of PTSD Awareness Month, Goddard is encouraging people to recognize the signs of PTS and respond with empathy and understanding. He gives these specific steps to help someone with PTS:
- Provide care by meeting people’s basic needs in regards to food, hydration and safety.
- Provide listening ears and allow others to move forward at their own pace.
- Provide self-care for yourself to prevent vicarious trauma exposure.
- Implement quiet, safe spaces and group guidelines to prevent retraumatization.
- Promote awareness by wearing teal shirts and ribbons during the month of June.
- Promote grounding and mindfulness exercises in groups and sessions.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call ARC’s 24/7 addiction help hotline at (888) 520-8736.
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About Addiction Recovery Care
Addiction Recovery Care (ARC) operates a network of over 30 addiction treatment programs in 21 Eastern and Central Kentucky counties. The organization, headquartered in Louisa, Kentucky, offers a full continuum of care including withdrawal management, long-term residential treatment, intensive outpatient, outpatient, medically assisted treatment (MAT), vocational rehabilitation and job training. The treatment centers are holistic with CARF-accredited clinical programs, medical services directed by an addiction psychiatrist, a spiritual emphasis that includes the 12 steps and chaplaincy care and a broadening scope of vocational training opportunities for clients. Full details about ARC’s services are available at arccenters.com.