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PTSD and Addiction: Substance Abuse in the Military

PTSD and Addiction: Substance Abuse in the Military

PTSD and Addiction in our Armed Forces In honor of Memorial Day 2015, I wanted to call attention to the high comorbidity between PTSD and addiction in our Armed Forces population. Although illicit drug use is lower among U.S. military personnel than among civilians, heavy alcohol and prescription drug abuse is prevalent and on the rise. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, military personnel with multiple deployments and combat exposure have the highest risk of developing substance abuse problems. The high comorbidity between addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has much to do with the widespread untreated trauma issues found in our Armed Forces population. According to a 2008 Department of Defense study, prescription drug abuse among service members is higher than that of our non-Armed Forces population. In 2008, 11% of service members reported abusing prescription drugs; this number increased from 2005 when it was 4%. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 2 of 10 Veterans struggling with PTSD also suffer from a substance abuse addiction, and almost 1 out of 3 Veterans seeking treatment for addiction also struggle with PTSD. In regard to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 1 in 10 returning soldiers seen in VA suffer from a substance abuse problem. War veterans with PTSD tend to be binge drinkers and use nicotine twice as much as veterans without PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is significantly more common among veterans than the general population.  PTSD can cause intrusive memories, intense anxiety, and nightmarish flashbacks that interfere with daily life and can lead to feelings of depression and hopelessness. Many individuals struggling with...
Hepatitis C Treatment: WHO Advocates for Affordable Options

Hepatitis C Treatment: WHO Advocates for Affordable Options

Hepatitis C Treatment: WHO Advocates for Accessibility In an attempt to overcome the high costs of Hepatitis C treatment, the World Health Organization (WHO) has added the latest HCV regimens to its essential medicines list. Without lowering the cost of hep-C drugs, the WHO fears that the curative regimens may not be accessible to the majority of people struggling with the virus worldwide. The WHO’s Model List of Essential Medicines is updated every two years and is being increasingly used by institutions and governments to develop their own essential medicine lists. The most recent version of WHO’s list was released in the beginning of May 2015 and included the emphasis on hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is present in both high-income and lower-income nations. Affecting more than 150 million people worldwide, the majority of people struggling with HCV live in Third-World countries. Unfortunately, these countries lack the resources needed to cover healthcare costs and provide HCV treatment. The World Health Organization’s focus on hep-C treatment is also an attempt to democratize healthcare across the world. The drug still remains very expensive in the United States, preventing many people from obtaining access to it. With one pill of Gilead’s Sovaldi costing $1,000 in the United States, many people are unable to receive the necessary treatment. Insurance companies are reluctant to cover the full cost of the treatment, leaving many Americans unable to afford the treatment regimen. Gilead has cut the cost of treatment in several Third-World countries, but more needs to be done in order to ensure global access to the drug. Treatments for hep-C continue to evolve rapidly, with several...
Sobriety Diary: Life Lessons Learned in Recovery

Sobriety Diary: Life Lessons Learned in Recovery

Life Lessons Learned in Sobriety My time spent in recovery from drugs and alcohol has been filled with little miracles, blessings, and many, many lessons. Each day in sobriety I learn something new about the world around me and how to best interact with said world. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned through working a spiritual program and living free from all mind-altering substances. »Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness → We hear this all the time in therapy and in the rooms, but I have learned the hard way that asking for help is one of the bravest things a person can do. For awhile in my sobriety, I carried around this false belief that just because I was sober, I should be 100% healthy, not needing any therapy, psychiatry, or anything of the like. Unfortunately, this false belief lead me to some dark days in my sobriety. This is when I truly learned that strong people recognize when they are struggling and reach out for the appropriate help. I learned to ask my Higher Power of my understanding for help, but also started reaching out to sober supports and my outpatient treatment team. My life goes much more smoothly when I have a team of strong women by my side, helping me to sort through challenging emotions and learn more about my strengths along the way. »Letting go of the past → This has been a huge lesson for me in sobriety. Letting go of the past does not mean forgetting about it and pretending it never happened; rather,...
Addiction and the Family: The Importance of Family Recovery

Addiction and the Family: The Importance of Family Recovery

Addiction and the Family: Addiction Is a Family Disease Addiction and the Family: We often hear that addiction is a family disease, but what exactly does this mean? Alcoholism and drug addiction not only affects the addict, but also the entire family. When one family is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, the entire family system suffers. Addiction is a family disease that affects the family’s mental and physical health, unity, finances, and overall family dynamics. Not only does the addicted individual need recovery, but the entire family does as well. How does the family recover? First and foremost, family members must realize that they can not “fix” their loved one, and that it is necessary for them to work a recovery program as well if they wish to heal from the suffering caused by their loved one’s addiction. Because addiction affects everyone in the family, it is essential that each family member receives the necessary support required to heal from the past pain and learn how to live peacefully regardless of their loved one’s recovery. Addiction and the Family: Fortunately, help is available for families of addicts. Family counseling services and support groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon can be incredibly helpful for families struggling with a loved one’s addiction to drugs and alcohol. Family systems are complex, but family counseling can provide a safe space for loved ones to learn how to communicate openly and set healthy boundaries. One of the primary goals in family counseling at Recovery Advocates is to discover and utilize a family’s strengths to bring about positive change in all areas of life, including the loved...
Mental Health Month 2015: Mental Illness and Addiction

Mental Health Month 2015: Mental Illness and Addiction

Mental Health Month 2015 During the month of May, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the rest of the country celebrate Mental Health Month, bringing awareness to the important issue of mental health. Mental Health Month is an important time of year for fighting stigma, educating the public, providing support, and advocating for equal care for those struggling with mental illness. According to NAMI, 1 in every 5 American adults experience a mental illness of some sort, and approximately 13.6 million American adults live with a serious mental illness. Mental illness affects countless American individuals and families on a daily basis and it is important that we remain educated and informed about mental health issues. This year’s theme for Mental Health Month is B4Stage4 — focusing on how people can address their mental health issues early on, rather than at an advanced stage when the symptoms are more severe. Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions or disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. There are many mental illnesses including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. The signs and symptoms vary depending on the mental illness, but some of the common ones include (but are not limited to): extreme mood swings, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain, feeling sad or down, isolation and withdrawal, inability to cope with daily problems, substance abuse, suicidal thinking, changes in sex drive, low energy, detachment from reality, and trouble sleeping. Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder manifest as physical maladies such as headaches, stomach pain, and other unexpected aches and pains. Statistics...




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