Top Medications for PTSD and Risk of Abuse

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Last Updated on March 27, 2021 by

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder mainly caused by an ordeal meted on an individual, such as terrorism, sexual abuse/harassment, natural disaster, or involvement in an accident. According to the National Center of PTSD, two-thirds of Americans experience the symptoms of PTSD, which mostly include flashbacks to traumatic events. 

Common Signs and symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Attitude and behavioral changes – Individuals going through post-traumatic stress disorder often feel irritated or angered over small things.
  • Difficulty sleeping and concentrating – due to frequent flashbacks to the traumatic experiences, patients going through PTSD face sleeplessness on intermittent basis.
  • Feeling numb and avoiding people, places, or activities.
  • Reliving the trauma, experiencing flashbacks, and having nightmares.

Other symptoms may include

  • extreme agitation
  • anger management issues
  • an avoidance of anything related to the trauma

Medication can be used to treat some of these symptoms, but in most cases, they can lead to co-occurring disorders hence substance abuse or addiction.

PTSD Medications

Antidepressants are widely used in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but also other medications such as mood stabilizers, Monoamine oxidase, and atypical antidepressants can be used.

Examples of antidepressants include; sertraline, paroxetine, atypical antidepressants, mirtazapine, venlafaxine, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors include; isocarboxazid, phenelzine while mood stabilizers include carbamazepine, lithium, and antipsychotics include risperidone and prazosin. 

Finding the correct medication for patients can take time, which may make some patients struggle with drug prescription and, thus, drug abuse that initially reduced the effects of PTSD, particularly if they use illicit substances such as alcohol.

Abuse of PTSD Medications

It is rare for patients to abuse drugs meant for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Still, some medications such as benzodiazepines like Ativan, Xanax can be addictive to patients, which in most cases are prescribed to reduce trauma. Due to their high sort after use, patients sort to use them in high amounts and more frequently to manage some situations, leading to addiction.

Some individuals may resort to using drugs that the doctor has not prescribed them. In this case, drug abuse and too much usage are a sign of an addiction.

Which makes us take a look into the signs of drug abuse.

Signs of Drug Abuse

 Drug abuse or substance abuse refers to the use of certain chemicals for purposes of creating a feeling of delight on the brain

Below are some of the common signs of drug abuse

  • Arguing and showing sign of repulsiveness when asked concerning matters substances you use
  • Ones habits relating to finances changes suddenly – the individuals in drug abuse spend a lot of money in drugs even go an extra mile of living in debts to satisfy their urge.
  • Sudden changes in behavior – they often start acting unique, in most cases spending time alone or locking themselves up in their rooms.
  • Lack of motivation and poor work performance – more often the patients look tired or lack the drive to perform either at workplace or in any manual duty given.
  • Their appetite reduces and subsequently weight loss – due to overuse of drugs, the patients may suffer from weight loss which is mainly caused by reduced eating

Other signs of drug abuse may include;

  • Less sleeping patterns, chronic tiredness
  • Sweaty hands which sometimes shake uncontrollably
  • Nausea, vomiting or
  • Increased heartbeat rates.
  • Dry cough
  • poor health
  • staggering walk which is mainly caused by usage of alcohol
  • watery eyes
  • Paranoia
  • Moodiness, irritability,
  • Excessive need for privacy; unreachable.
  • Secretive or suspicious behavior.
  • Change in personal grooming habits.
  • Possession of drug
  • Sudden changing friends to known drug abusers.
  • Complaints of a sore jaw
  • Nervousness.
  • Excessive sweating.

Complete PTSD Treatment

Prescribed drugs alone cannot treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; rather, an addition of therapy is highly regarded to provide the patients with a comprehensive guide on the process of a traumatic event and educate them on how to control severe symptoms.

Below are some of the recommended therapy types for PTSD

· Cognitive therapy: A relatively short form of psychotherapy mainly based on things that matters about how we feel. Cognitive therapy is important to PTSD patients as it tries to change how they feel and completely forget their past occurrences. Many healthful perspectives are the goals of cognitive therapy

· Exposure therapy this technique is mainly used to lower the threats of anxiety disorders which entails exposing the patient to the sources of their anxiety without the intention of causing harm to the patient. The goal is to reduce the power of traumatic memories. Through all this process, a patient can overcome their anxiety in the long run. 

· Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing – initially developed in 1987, EMDR was developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder patients. This is basically an individual session done with your therapist. Unlike other types of medication that mainly focus on the patient's emotions, EMDR therapy focuses directly on the patient's memory, whereby sometimes fuse a method of tapping fingers, eye movements, and sounds as they talk about memories. The intention is to alter the way the memory operates in the brain, reducing the focused symptom.

Can EMDR be used to Treat PTSD?

Following the overwhelming success rates of Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, it is obvious that it can be used to treat Post Trauma Stress Disorder.

To understand it better, we need to break down the approaches used on the patient with PTSD.

Stage 1: History-taking

  1. In this stage, the therapist takes the analysis of the patient`s past including the types of medication to ascertain the best approach to be used.

Stage 2: Preparing the client

  1. After knowing the history of the patient, the therapist now figures out the most important method to use and subsequently getting him ready.

Stage 3: Assessing the target memory

  • The core guidance of EMDR is to target the memory of an individual, after preparing the patient, the therapist now decides on which memory to assess in the whole process.

Stage 4-7: Processing the memory to adaptive resolution

  • The therapist now uses his/her expertise to deploy best methods to capture the memory ready for simulation and adaptation.

Stage 8: Evaluating treatment results

  • The therapist now evaluates the outcome of the whole process and its success rate

The stages of EMDR

· Taking history of a patient

The therapist ensures that they have a piece of clear information about the client's past that includes the medication to plan for the right treatment. The therapist often ensures that all the information provided is accurate because of a slight mistake, the therapy becomes useless.

· Preparing the patient

The therapist provides an extensive reason for the medication, which entails practicing finger tapping, eye movements, and any other type suitable. The therapist makes sure that the client has enough resources and material knowledge to facilitate the whole process's smoothness.

· Examination 

This stage is mainly meant to stimulate the target memory by identifying the components that make it up, such as image, effect, and body sensitivity.

Two types of EMDR therapy sessions used to evaluate the varying emotions and cognition:

I. Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) scale – is the scale of 0 to 10 for measuring the subjective intensity of distress experienced by an individual in the current state.

II. the Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale – this is basically an individual report scale that runs from 1 to 7 where 1 represents highly believable 

The two combined test emotion and cognition.

· Desensitization

This phase mainly focuses on the client's memory while using the BLS, whereby the client is expected to report if there is any development of thoughts. The therapist determines the client's reactions concerning standardized procedures. This process continues until the client reports that they are no longer having traumas.

· Installation

The fifth stage of EMDR is installation, and this is mainly intended to strengthen the client's cognitive feeling.

· Scanning the body

This is where the client is challenged to think of a scenario more often, stimulating their body reaction. The therapist then observes the somatic distress by asking the client if there are any disturbances. The BLS is then deployed to process it. 

· Closure

At this point, the therapist intends to make the memory come into a slow and controlled containment. If the memory was not fully processed during the session, specific methods are used by the therapist to ensure its safety till the next session.

· Re-assessment 

In this stage, the therapist evaluates the client's physiological state. This is to check whether the process has put into a stop the PTSD effects.

If, in any case, there is someone you love, either a family member or friend, is struggling with drug or substance abuse disorder emanating from the medications they are taking for PTSD, treatment should address both the PTSD symptoms and the addiction disorder. Contact us now for more information and be connected to a supportive treatment program from our experienced staff.