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How Natural Disasters Can Trigger a Relapse

How Natural Disasters Can Trigger a RelapseEarthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires and other natural disasters are often traumatizing events. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a common ailment among war veterans, can also occur in disaster survivors. PTSD is an anxiety disorder in which a person’s “fight or flight” response remains engaged even in non-dangerous situations. Whether the disaster results in PTSD or other trauma, the reverberations from such terrifying events put recovering Boise residents at an elevated risk of relapse. On the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website, Director Nora Volkow declares, “Given the recent spate of natural disasters in this country and their tragic human aftermath, our awareness of the effects of stress in increasing vulnerability to substance abuse must be especially keen.”

Effects of Trauma and Anxiety on Boise Residents

When it comes to traumatic events, stress responses are controlled by a combined effort from the central nervous system, the adrenal system, the cardiovascular system and the immune system. Disruptions to this integrated system can compromise a person’s mental health and cause destabilizing symptoms, including the following:

  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Emotional distress

For a recovering Boise resident there can be a temptation to self-medicate these symptoms. Examples of drugs used to self-medicate stress include the following:

  • Central nervous system depressants, such as Xanax and Valium, to reduce anxiety levels
  • Opiates and painkillers to suppress emotional pain and suffering
  • Sleeping pills to slow a racing mind and overcome anxiety-driven insomnia
  • Amphetamines and cocaine to fight emotional numbness and depression
  • Alcohol to try to forget the traumatic memories

The NIDA calls stress one of the “most powerful triggers for relapse;” traumatic stress can derail a recovery if not properly addressed.

Dealing with Trauma

Continued abstinence is of paramount importance for a recovering addict. Several behavioral tools are taught in rehab that can help, but further care is often necessary to reinforce these strategies and adapt them to traumatic events. There are several therapies for dealing with trauma, including the following:

  • Holistic techniques to treat any mood disorder the event unlocked or intensified
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to improve emotional responses
  • New coping mechanisms to deal with stress and panic
  • Problem-solving skills to tackle anxiety and fear
  • Possible use of exposure therapy to face the frightening memories
  • Group counseling with other disaster survivors to share and learn
  • Psychotherapy to determine what triggers reignite the trauma

Recovering addicts should seek specialized help after a natural disaster, but traumatic events can also initiate a substance abuse problem in the average person. Whether the addiction is new or simply trying to make a comeback, rehab treatment needs to be a priority.

Substance Abuse Treatment for Boise Residents

In addition to the therapies above, professional rehab utilizes several tools to break an addiction, including the following:

  • Medically supervised detox in a safe and comfortable setting
  • Dual treatment for any co-occurring mental illness or mood disorder
  • Behavioral therapies designed specifically to combat substance abuse
  • Strategies to identify and rebuff substance abuse triggers

Trauma and addiction both involve neurobiological factors and should be treated concurrently. Leaving one of the conditions untreated makes it difficult to have a breakthrough with the other.

Trauma and Addiction Help

If you or a loved one in Boise is dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic experience, we can help. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to discuss trauma counseling, relapse risks, addiction signs, treatment options and mood disorders. We can also check health insurance policies for coverage. Please call our toll-free helpline now and get the treatment you need.