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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Addiction Treatment


The client is a 19-year-old Jonah struggling with PTSD and substance addiction. These issues are caused by the traumatic events the client has experienced. Child neglect, emotional and physical abuse, as well as other uninvolved or aggressive behaviors his parents demonstrated towards him have led to a number of health-threatening tendencies and symptoms. The latter appeared to include constant agitation, chaotic changes in mood, prolonged fear, lack of confidence, recurrent memories, nightmares about traumatic experiences, and avoiding people, places, or activities that can remind about those events (Silvermist, 2018). In order to avoid emotions of fear, guilt, and insecurity, at the age of 16, Jonah started using drugs and alcohol.

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These substances numb emotional pain and seemingly help Jonah to avoid managing distress caused by trauma. However, the relief is temporary, and as soon as the effect of the drugs ends, Jonah has to face withdrawal symptoms that are even more painful and difficult to manage. This is followed by a strong desire to use the substances again, and the cycle repeats itself.

Suggested Treatment Protocol

With clients like Jonah, PTSD co-occurring with an addiction to drugs or alcohol is generally referred to as dual diagnosis. This means that health professionals need to adopt a complex approach when treating patients with co-occurring disorders. To address the problem of substance abuse, clinicians have to study the profound effects that trauma had on the client and his substance addiction. Mental health professionals can help the client get to the core of his addiction, making him feel free to discuss past traumas, as this is what allows patients to overcome traumatic events of the past. Since the client still lives with his parents, he continues to be exposed to traumatic experiences. Thus, treatment will involve teaching the client to use coping mechanisms that will help him prevent negative outcomes resulting from the environment he lives in. Simultaneously, the client’s trauma-related addiction has to be addressed by “providing targeted and in-depth treatment for the trauma-related triggers that sustained it” (Silvermist, 2018, par. 22). This process implies certain procedures and activities conducted with the client in a medically supervised facility.

Holistic treatment of the client’s addiction has to include detoxification and individualized behavioral rehabilitation. Detox processes conducted by medical professionals will allow the client to overcome the most serious withdrawal symptoms and manage or prevent any possible health issues that may arise during the treatment. As mentioned above, this process has to be accompanied by the client’s consistent communication and sessions with mental health experts. This comprehensive approach will allow ensuring that the treatment does not only focus on the consequences of substance abuse and trauma-related distress but also on the factors that caused these issues.

Suggested Resources for Treatment

Community resources to assist the client’s treatment may include NA and AA meetings, as well as online resources. The latter are usually presented as websites of different mental health centers and online campaigns that provide information to engage young people in taking measures against substance abuse tendencies occurring around them. Other support groups, such as Smart Recovery, can also help the client to find individuals who are struggling with similar issues and overcome these conditions together. Regularly attending support group meetings will encourage the client and increase his willpower to continue the treatment, which is extremely important to ensure successful implementation of the holistic approach discussed above.


Silvermist. (2018). The link between childhood trauma and addiction in adulthood. Web.

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