He was an honored Sergeant who served three tours in Afghanistan. He had a beautiful home, a loving wife and two children who adored him. His return to civilian life was filled with excitement for a new career and opportunities. Could he move on from the memories and flashbacks of violence that haunted him? Would the pain and the feeling of disconnectedness ever go away? At the age of 32, he lost the war that raged within himself. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a heartbreaking psychological disorder that often occurs after experiencing a traumatic event. Many people with PTSD turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with the intrusive memories and horrid flashbacks that interfere with their daily life. Recovering from the duality of chronic substance abuse and PTSD requires personalized treatment to help bring the person back to balanced emotional and physical health. For people who are in a deep state of trauma, traditional recovery methods, alone, may not be enough. With specialized, holistic PTSD treatment and addiction recovery programs, The Sanctuary at Sedona, AZ are making it possible for people to recover from PTSD, alcoholism, and drug addiction by aligning and healing their collective mind, body, soul and spirit with our holistic PTSD treatment and addiction recovery program.
What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a psychological disorder that may develop after witnessing or being involved in a traumatic event. Some of the most common causes of the condition include: war, terrorism, rape, child abuse, natural disasters, and assault. Symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, frequent flashbacks, reliving and feeling as though the event is happening now, severe anxiety, outbursts of anger, sleeplessness, feeling disconnected or distant from people, as well as avoiding conversations about the event. Symptoms can strike at any time, but most commonly occur when a person is reminded of the traumatic event.
As their daily lives are so filled with grief and pain, people with PTSD often choose alcohol or drugs as a way to manage their pain and suffering. “Up to three quarters of those who have survived abusive or violent trauma report drinking problems. Up to a third of those who survive traumatic accidents, illness, or disasters report drinking problems”.1 Unfortunately, substance abuse and alcohol only cause the symptoms of the disorder to become more prevalent and severe. At the Sanctuary, we offer a unique holistic PTSD treatment and addiction recovery program.
How PTSD and Addiction Impact the Brain
The human brain is divided into four sections also known as lobes. The frontal lobe is associated with motor skills and cognition. The parietal lobe is sensory and processes information such as touch, pressure, and pain. The temporal lobe is associated with is associated with language skills, speech, and the formation of memories. The occipital lobe is associated with the interpretation of visual stimuli. Within the brain is a group of regions collectively referred to as the limbic system. The limbic system controls our emotional and feel good responses. Neuroscientific studies have proven that PTSD as well as drug and alcohol abuse change the biochemical makeup of the brain.2
Those who experience a traumatic event enter a heightened state of awareness, which activates the limbic portion of the brain. PTSD results in a state of continuous alert, which causes the brain to release various stress chemicals throughout the body. This constant state of alertness places the mind, body, soul, and spirit in harm’s way by causing the body to enter and remain in chronic state of fight or flight. As the person continues to experience symptoms and relive the event in their mind, their ability to cope with situations and emotions becomes overwhelming which is why post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction are often partnered together. For a person who is suffering, drugs and alcohol allow them to retreat and numb the pain if even for just a moment. Drugs and alcohol activate the feel good sensors and receptors in the brain. Unfortunately, continuous drug and alcohol usage will only start the person on a downward spiral of self-destruction creating an addiction disorder in addition to making their PTSD symptoms more severe. “Chronic drug taking alters chemical neurotransmission and cellular signaling, which in turn changes the brain by altering gene expression and the proteins that are made.” “As drug taking continues, the drug begins to influence larger and larger portions of the brain”. 3
Holistic PTSD Treatment for Healing the Brain
Traumatic events change a person’s perception of the world. The world as they knew it becomes convoluted and there is a persistent feeling that the future will always be limited; their world is less safe. Continuous symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction threaten their overall physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Traditional therapeutic methods involve medication and therapy, which mainly focus on treating the mind and the physical body. However, the best opportunity for post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction recovery requires treatment of the whole person by addressing their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in addition to influencing their brain back to health.
For optimal and progressive healing, a person needs to tap into their higher brain functions. These higher brain functions are critical to a person’s sense of inner peace, happiness, and overall wellbeing. Just as the brain can be altered through post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction, scientific advancements in neuroscience and epigenetics confirm that the brain can be influenced back to a state of health.
The Sanctuary at Sedona, Arizona offers a holistic PTSD treatment that combines traditional therapeutic methods with complementary ancient healing modalities and advanced neuroscience to influence a person’s brain back to health and align a person’s mind, body, soul, and spirit. By utilizing a combination of western medicine, allopathic, naturopathic, functional medicine, psychology, psychiatry, shamanic healing, energy medicine, and counseling, people have an opportunity reunite their mind, body, soul, and spirit. In addition, this specialized, holistic PTSD treatment and addiction program utilizes the latest advancements in epigenetics and neuroplasticity which makes it possible for people to influence their genetic code, re-inform their DNA, and shape their cellular biology back to a state of vitality.
For those who are lost and in a perpetual state of suffering, traditional treatment methods may not be enough to restore their emotional and physical health. Complementary and holistic PTSD treatment and addiction recovery programs, like The Sanctuary at Sedona, offer hope to those who have tried traditional therapy but need additional support to recover and regain their health. While these holistic approaches are not yet widely utilized, they will be. There are alternative more effective treatment approaches to post-traumatic stress syndrome and addiction that are entering the mainstream. It is scientifically proven. People can influence their DNA. People can move beyond the symptoms that haunt them. People can recover from PTSD and addiction. The path of the recovered awaits.
PTSD and Problems with Alcohol Use. (2013). Retrieved October 26, 2013, from United States Department of Veteran Affairs: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/ptsd-alcohol-use.asp.
Cherry, K. (2013). The Anatomy of the Brain. Retrieved October 26, 2013, from About.com Psychology: http://psychology.about.com/od/biopsychology/ss/brainstructure_2.htm
Michael Kuhar, P. (2012). The Addicted Brain: Why we abuse drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: FT Press.