Unraveling the Connection: How PTSD Fuels Fentanyl Addiction and the Healing Power of Trauma-Informed Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder -  commonly known as PTSD, affects millions of Americans every year. In 2020 alone, it’s believed that over 13 million people suffered from PTSD. For some, the aftermath of a traumatic event can create a complicated web of emotions that they don’t know how to deal with. In an effort to numb the pain and deal with the symptoms of PTSD, they’ll turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate. With the popularity of fentanyl soaring, it’s no surprise that fentanyl addiction and PTSD are linked. In this blog, we’ll delve into this connection, understanding how trauma and addiction intersect, and explore the promising path of trauma-informed treatment.


The PTSD-Fentanyl Link

Living with unresolved trauma is like a nightmare version of Groundhogs Day. Every moment is tinged with the haunting echoes of the past. This is the reality for those grappling with PTSD. The intense emotional turmoil and overwhelming memories can drive individuals to seek relief, often turning to substances like fentanyl. Opioids are called pain killers because they do exactly that - kill the pain; both physically and mentally/emotionally. For a while, fentanyl washes away the past and wraps the present in a warm blanket. It can be very enticing when the alternative is a constant rollercoaster ride of negative thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, fentanyl is highly addictive as a recreational drug - even more so when used to anesthetize oneself from the past. As the traumatic events are constantly suppressed, a rebound effect occurs wherein the distressing symptoms of PTSD are heightened which fuels the need for more drugs and so begins the cycle of drug addiction. 

Trauma-Informed Treatment: A Guiding Light

Trauma-informed treatment is the belief that in order to administer effective care, treatment teams must first understand a patient's life experiences. Let's break down why this approach is gaining recognition and making a significant impact:

Understanding Triggers, Finding Alternatives:

Effective therapy sessions are more than just identifying triggers. It’s about recognizing them and actively working to develop healthier coping mechanisms. Trauma-informed care puts the power in the hands of the individual to steer away from their reliance on substances and discover alternative ways to manage their pain and heal.

You Have a Say in Your Healing:

Each person’s pain is unique. There is no one way to treat everyone’s trauma. Trauma-informed treatment recognizes this and understands that you are the expert in your experiences. You should be involved in decisions about your treatment. This provides a sense of control and ownership over your recovery journey and gives back some autonomy that trauma can strip away. 

Building Bridges of Trust:

Healing can only be done in a safe, supportive environment where you feel comfortable getting vulnerable. Therapeutic relationships have to be built on trust. Trauma-informed care places a premium on fostering a treatment culture that promotes healing.

Seeing the Whole Picture:

PTSD manifests itself in symptoms that are physical, mental, and emotional. Trauma-informed treatment recognizes this and tailors the treatment to meet each specific need while crafting a comprehensive strategy for your unique journey.

Why Trauma-Informed Treatment Works

Addressing the Roots:

Trauma-informed care gets to the heart of the matter. It doesn't just tackle the surface-level symptoms; it dives deep to understand and address the root causes of addiction, providing a more sustainable approach to recovery.

No More Harm in Healing:

Trauma work is healing that must be done in a slow and controlled manner. Too many programs take a “rip the band aid off” approach which can cause more damage and hinder progress. Trauma-informed care takes extra care to prevent re-traumatization, ensuring that the healing process is gentle, gradual, and minimally invasive.

A Roadmap for Lifelong Recovery:

By focusing on the core issues contributing to addiction, trauma-informed treatment sets the stage for lasting recovery. It equips individuals with the skills and resilience needed to navigate life's twists and turns without resorting to substances.

Getting Started

Trauma-informed treatment is an educational journey, an exploration into understanding oneself, and a relatable path towards recovery – one that holds the promise of not just breaking free from addiction but embracing a life redefined by resilience and empowerment.

Call Sunflower Recovery today to talk with our clinical team about how we use trauma-informed care in our treatment plans. We’re here to help!

How Trauma-Informed Care is Used to Treat PTSD & Substance Abuse