PTSD and Its Effects on Families
For those on the outside, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may appear to be a condition that only affects the individual. However, the truth is that the people most affected are often those around the one with the disorder.
What Is PTSD?
When a person witnesses or experiences a traumatic experience, they may be able to process it immediately. However, most people are unable to do this, and their minds will do whatever it takes to block out the scenario on their own. While this may seem like a solution, the fact is that without the opportunity to confront these feelings and emotions, they will reveal themselves in other ways.
For many people with PTSD, the symptoms may include:
- Persistent phobias
- Unexplained emotional outbursts
- Panic attacks
These are only a handful of the many symptoms a person can experience with PTSD. Often, these symptoms will not exist on their own and will display in tandem and at different times in various scenarios.
The Prevalence of Substance Abuse
People with PTSD may not seek professional medical assistance as they fear the possibility of confronting their condition. Their reticence at the thought of sharing what they have gone through can be a block to treatment for months or years.
These individuals may find that the only thing allowing them to function is substance use. The idea that drugs and alcohol can silence the pain quickly may seem like a viable solution, even to those who would never before have considered this as an option.
How Does PTSD Affect Families?
There are multiple ways that PTSD can affect the families of those who find themselves unable to deal with their experiences.
Inability to Connect
For people suffering from PTSD, their inability to explain their situation may lead to the severing of relationships and issues forming new ones. In the cases of close, long-term relationships such as marriage, a person may feel like their partner no longer understands them. When relationships are built on love and trust, they may experience hurdles when one partner attempts to fix the other when they are not ready to confront their trauma.
The idea of relationships being a shared life experience can fall apart due to an individual’s inability to control their emotions. People with PTSD may be prone to outbursts when backed into a corner or when their anxieties get the best of them.
The effects of PTSD may be compounded by the way it affects children. When a parent or close authority figure cannot cope with their trauma, it may present in a way that lashes out at the innocent. Parents may not even realize that their actions are tangentially hurting their kids. By the time they realize it, there may now be a form of generational trauma wherein their own children now have a version of PTSD relating to how their parents hurt them.
Without proper treatment, PTSD will simply continue to affect families in different ways down through the generations. This is why it is essential to deal with it as soon as possible.
What Treatments Exist for Families?
If a family can convince their loved one to seek treatment, it will help everyone involved begin to heal.
Recovery and Individual Treatment
The first step in any PTSD healing process is to admit to the issue and enter treatment. For those with a dual diagnosis of substance abuse, there are recovery programs that will assist with PTSD and any related issues. If substance abuse does play a role, the first step will be detox, followed by an inpatient rehab program.
During this process, the individual will begin to explore their issues and may even begin cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other beneficial therapies in an effort to start the recovery process.
Even before the individual has completed treatment, it may behoove family members to begin their own therapy journey. This will involve a qualified mental health specialist who will create a plan of care for everyone involved. In many cases, this type of therapy may also include individual therapy for children and partners.
Once the individual leaves a rehab facility, they will begin their recovery process. A central aspect of this phase of treatment is family therapy. They will join their family members in a safe environment where they can discuss what they have been through, acknowledge how their behavior has affected their loved ones, and work with them to move on as a group.
Recovery from PTSD can be a long process. If there is an added substance abuse issue, it may take longer for healing to occur and can have persistent repercussions throughout the life of the individual. The goal of any treatment or recovery program is to put people on a better path going forward.
This is true when a family is affected. Though initial therapy may be difficult, it will eventually become a place where family members can speak freely and develop their broken bonds in a safe environment. Therapy will allow each individual to know they are being heard and that nobody is more important than the others.
This equal footing is central to the family unit and will continue to serve as a baseline for emotions, decisions, and the support that each person gives to the group.
The Twilight Recovery Center Approach
Twilight Recovery Center is prepared to assist those with PTSD and related substance abuse issues. Our medical staff is well-versed in treatment options. When a person comes to us, they are treated as an individual with their own specific needs. We aim to put our residents on the right path so that they can reenter the world as more whole individuals.
People often believe that PTSD and related traumas have their most significant impact on the individual. However, those around them may feel traumatized by the behavior of that person. When we rely heavily on family and friends without seeking treatment, the repercussions can be widespread. At Twilight Recovery Center, we are well-equipped to deal with any level of PTSD that enters our facility. If you have spent your life avoiding your trauma, it has probably begun to catch up with you in ways that have affected you and your family. At Twilight Recovery Center, we are confident that we can help you find a better path. Call us today at (888) 414-8183.