Remembering How To Pray Through Alcoholics Anonymous

Working the 12 steps has helped me to achieve sobriety, and it has also bettered my relationship with God.

Faith and prayer during recovery can be powerful things. My story of recovery is a Christian tale of hitting rock bottom only to see the light. I was born and raised a Christian, but once I started using and abusing in my teens and through young adulthood, my relationship with my Faith all but disappeared within the haze of intoxication.

Other than during a few "stoner" talks about the meaning of life, I really didn’t think about God – just as I really didn’t think about much other than getting high or getting drunk. One of the most surprising aspects of my recovery away from addiction and abuse was a re awakening of my Faith, and the development of a very personal belief and reliance on God as I understand Him.

I still don’t go to church nearly as often as I should, but Faith has become important in my life, and it influences all that I do…and it was in AA after really hitting rock bottom that I discovered that God remained a part of me, and that I could use His strength to get better.

Remembering how to pray with AA

In AA we begin each meeting with a serenity prayer, and we pray to improve our relationships with God, to have God remove our shortcomings and we pray to understand God’s will and guidance for our lives. As AA is a secular but spiritual organization, you don’t have to pray to a Christian God, only to any higher power as you understand it; but for me it’s always Jesus that I pray to, and who I thank each night for keeping me sober and happy within my family and my community.

The thing about God’s lessons is that they don’t tend to fade as other lessons of recovery do. In rehab we all learn about cognitive triggers to abuse, and how to maintain our thinking to stay clear from temptation, and I have found these to be useful and have incorporated them into my recovery lifestyle. Unfortunately, these take a continual effort and sometimes feel like the lessons of long ago algebra class…something I once understood, but have no use for now!

I don’t question the value of these programs, but for me, once re awakened, my Faith and a belief in God’s power to guide me has always felt more personal and applicable to the battles of daily recovery and relapse avoidance. I pray every night for God’s continuing guidance, and I use the Bible for strength and support in difficult moments. I don’t look to the Lord because I have to…but because I crave His guidance and I recognize His power to keep me sober and happy.

Christian Rehab

I went through a secular rehab, and I can’t complain because when combined with AA and continuing group aftercare therapy – it worked (it took two runs at it though!); but now that I recognize the intrinsic value of spiritual guidance, and now that I use the Lord’s power to keep me sober every day of my life…I wonder if a Christian rehab might have been a better fit for me, and if it might have worked completely the first time.

Christian rehab offers us spiritual lessons, guidance and prayer, all to better understand how God can help us in all areas of our lives, and how we can work to live better lives for God and also live better lives for ourselves. The lessons of Christian rehab aren’t easily forgotten, and a reminder of the teachings are ever present within the family bible, and remain with you every time you pray to Jesus with an honest and open heart.

Addiction is a disease of the body, of the mind, and also of the spirit, and I can’t help but wonder if the spiritual healing (most overlooked in conventional rehab) isn’t the most important of the three. No one who knows me well would describe me as evangelical, and my Faith is mostly a very personal and private thing…but since a belief in God and using His strength as my strength has helped me so much, I feel that I have a duty to share my story, and suggest that using Faith and prayer for recovery maybe the most powerful source of healing of all.

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Working the 12 steps has helped me to achieve sobriety, and it has also bettered my relationship with God.

Faith and prayer during recovery can be powerful things. My story of recovery is a Christian tale of hitting rock bottom only to see the light. I was born and raised a Christian, but once I started using and abusing in my teens and through young adulthood, my relationship with my Faith all but disappeared within the haze of intoxication.

Other than during a few "stoner" talks about the meaning of life, I really didn’t think about God – just as I really didn’t think about much other than getting high or getting drunk. One of the most surprising aspects of my recovery away from addiction and abuse was a re awakening of my Faith, and the development of a very personal belief and reliance on God as I understand Him.

I still don’t go to church nearly as often as I should, but Faith has become important in my life, and it influences all that I do…and it was in AA after really hitting rock bottom that I discovered that God remained a part of me, and that I could use His strength to get better.

Remembering how to pray with AA

In AA we begin each meeting with a serenity prayer, and we pray to improve our relationships with God, to have God remove our shortcomings and we pray to understand God’s will and guidance for our lives. As AA is a secular but spiritual organization, you don’t have to pray to a Christian God, only to any higher power as you understand it; but for me it’s always Jesus that I pray to, and who I thank each night for keeping me sober and happy within my family and my community.

The thing about God’s lessons is that they don’t tend to fade as other lessons of recovery do. In rehab we all learn about cognitive triggers to abuse, and how to maintain our thinking to stay clear from temptation, and I have found these to be useful and have incorporated them into my recovery lifestyle. Unfortunately, these take a continual effort and sometimes feel like the lessons of long ago algebra class…something I once understood, but have no use for now!

I don’t question the value of these programs, but for me, once re awakened, my Faith and a belief in God’s power to guide me has always felt more personal and applicable to the battles of daily recovery and relapse avoidance. I pray every night for God’s continuing guidance, and I use the Bible for strength and support in difficult moments. I don’t look to the Lord because I have to…but because I crave His guidance and I recognize His power to keep me sober and happy.

Christian Rehab

I went through a secular rehab, and I can’t complain because when combined with AA and continuing group aftercare therapy – it worked (it took two runs at it though!); but now that I recognize the intrinsic value of spiritual guidance, and now that I use the Lord’s power to keep me sober every day of my life…I wonder if a Christian rehab might have been a better fit for me, and if it might have worked completely the first time.

Christian rehab offers us spiritual lessons, guidance and prayer, all to better understand how God can help us in all areas of our lives, and how we can work to live better lives for God and also live better lives for ourselves. The lessons of Christian rehab aren’t easily forgotten, and a reminder of the teachings are ever present within the family bible, and remain with you every time you pray to Jesus with an honest and open heart.

Addiction is a disease of the body, of the mind, and also of the spirit, and I can’t help but wonder if the spiritual healing (most overlooked in conventional rehab) isn’t the most important of the three. No one who knows me well would describe me as evangelical, and my Faith is mostly a very personal and private thing…but since a belief in God and using His strength as my strength has helped me so much, I feel that I have a duty to share my story, and suggest that using Faith and prayer for recovery maybe the most powerful source of healing of all.

Giving Ritalin or Adderall to ADHD Kids Actually Reduces the Odds of Later in Life Addiction

Strong stimulant medications used in the treatment of ADHD are controversial, and many parents worry about the long term effects of the drugs. While the issues surrounding the usage of medications such as Ritalin are many, parents can now know that medicated ADHD kids are far less likely to develop addictions later in life.

I’ve got two kids, and thankfully neither of them has ADHD, and if they did I know that I would agonize over whether to give them powerful stimulant drugs for symptoms control. I’m not an expert on the pharmacology of drugs such as Ritalin, and I can’t say conclusively whether these drugs do more good than harm…but at the very least, in the area of substance abuse, the research is now overwhelmingly clear that medicated ADHD sufferers are far less likely to develop substance abuse and dependency problems later in life.

Clinical studies funded out of the National Institute for Drug Addiction (NIDA) have pretty conclusively shown that ADHD patients given stimulant medications for symptoms control end up developing far fewer problems with addiction and substance use than unmedicated sufferers. Unmedicated ADHD teens use drugs earlier and they use them more often; and they may even be using stimulant style drugs such as crystal meth and cocaine or crack for symptoms relief as self medication.

The issue is pretty serious, and with estimates placing as many as 30% of all drug or alcohol dependent people as ADHD sufferers (lower estimates report a still greatly over represented 10%) the need to minimize the risks to abuse for this group of people is substantial. A lot of parents worry that giving strong stimulant style medications such as Ritalin to their kids may be increasing their vulnerability to addiction later in life, and it seems that the opposite is in fact true, and that by not medicating these kids the risks of drug and alcohol abuse go up. I’m thankful I don’t need to make the decision, and the issue is unfortunately more complex than the simple consideration of substance abuse later in life; but at the very least, parents should be aware that medications such as Ritalin do seem to decrease the risks of later addiction.

Deciding when and how much medication to give to our kids is never easy, and all we can hope to do is get informed and make the best decision we can with the interest of our children at heart.

Strong stimulant medications used in the treatment of ADHD are controversial, and many parents worry about the long term effects of the drugs. While the issues surrounding the usage of medications such as Ritalin are many, parents can now know that medicated ADHD kids are far less likely to develop addictions later in life.

I’ve got two kids, and thankfully neither of them has ADHD, and if they did I know that I would agonize over whether to give them powerful stimulant drugs for symptoms control. I’m not an expert on the pharmacology of drugs such as Ritalin, and I can’t say conclusively whether these drugs do more good than harm…but at the very least, in the area of substance abuse, the research is now overwhelmingly clear that medicated ADHD sufferers are far less likely to develop substance abuse and dependency problems later in life.

Clinical studies funded out of the National Institute for Drug Addiction (NIDA) have pretty conclusively shown that ADHD patients given stimulant medications for symptoms control end up developing far fewer problems with addiction and substance use than unmedicated sufferers. Unmedicated ADHD teens use drugs earlier and they use them more often; and they may even be using stimulant style drugs such as crystal meth and cocaine or crack for symptoms relief as self medication.

The issue is pretty serious, and with estimates placing as many as 30% of all drug or alcohol dependent people as ADHD sufferers (lower estimates report a still greatly over represented 10%) the need to minimize the risks to abuse for this group of people is substantial. A lot of parents worry that giving strong stimulant style medications such as Ritalin to their kids may be increasing their vulnerability to addiction later in life, and it seems that the opposite is in fact true, and that by not medicating these kids the risks of drug and alcohol abuse go up. I’m thankful I don’t need to make the decision, and the issue is unfortunately more complex than the simple consideration of substance abuse later in life; but at the very least, parents should be aware that medications such as Ritalin do seem to decrease the risks of later addiction.

Deciding when and how much medication to give to our kids is never easy, and all we can hope to do is get informed and make the best decision we can with the interest of our children at heart.

Heavy drinking can speed up the pace of HIV symptoms progression

The concurrent abuse of alcohol by HIV positive patients has been proven to reduce immunologic functioning in those not receiving retro viral therapy. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have shown that what animal and cellular studies have indicated remains true within human populations, and that alcohol use in certain HIV positive populations increases the pace of disease progression.

Researchers suspect that heavy alcohol use decreases immunologic capabilities in HIV positive patients, and that it may achieve this lessening of immune response through accelerated HIV replication in the lymphocytes. The researchers examined the case files of almost 600 alcohol dependent HIV positive patients, and did statistical analysis on the data (controlling for significant variables) and they determined that alcohol plays a significant role in accelerating the progression of the disease, particularly through reducing CD4 cell counts amongst people not using retro viral therapies.

Patients that were using retro viral therapies did not show the same CD4 cell count decreases. The researchers call for greater therapeutic interventions for people with HIV and who use alcohol to excess, and note that brief medical interventions have proven very effective in getting people without addictions to reduce their consumption. The substance abuse treatment of people with already compromised health needs to be a priority, and although alcoholism or drug abuse is harmful to anyone, HIV positive and other chronic disease sufferers need rapid intervention to improve their general health, and increase treatment compliance.

Easier said than done I know…but with every year bringing more positive treatments to the fight against HIV and AIDS, we need to ensure that the hard earned gains of research into HIV therapies are not undone by concurrent and untreated substance abuse.

The concurrent abuse of alcohol by HIV positive patients has been proven to reduce immunologic functioning in those not receiving retro viral therapy. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have shown that what animal and cellular studies have indicated remains true within human populations, and that alcohol use in certain HIV positive populations increases the pace of disease progression.

Researchers suspect that heavy alcohol use decreases immunologic capabilities in HIV positive patients, and that it may achieve this lessening of immune response through accelerated HIV replication in the lymphocytes. The researchers examined the case files of almost 600 alcohol dependent HIV positive patients, and did statistical analysis on the data (controlling for significant variables) and they determined that alcohol plays a significant role in accelerating the progression of the disease, particularly through reducing CD4 cell counts amongst people not using retro viral therapies.

Patients that were using retro viral therapies did not show the same CD4 cell count decreases. The researchers call for greater therapeutic interventions for people with HIV and who use alcohol to excess, and note that brief medical interventions have proven very effective in getting people without addictions to reduce their consumption. The substance abuse treatment of people with already compromised health needs to be a priority, and although alcoholism or drug abuse is harmful to anyone, HIV positive and other chronic disease sufferers need rapid intervention to improve their general health, and increase treatment compliance.

Easier said than done I know…but with every year bringing more positive treatments to the fight against HIV and AIDS, we need to ensure that the hard earned gains of research into HIV therapies are not undone by concurrent and untreated substance abuse.

Contingency management, a new approach to dealing with crystal meth addiction

Recovery from crystal meth can be daunting. Not only is the drug so addictive, and as a result are the cravings for the drug so intense, the negative psychological effects of crystal meth cessation can last or months or even years. When these two factors are combined, the high recidivism rates of crystal meth addicts in recovery are better understood.

In response to the rising rates of crystal meth addiction in the country, and also in response to the devastation that an addiction to crystal meth can cause, there have been a number of research studies done on what treatment approaches are the most effective for crystal meth rehabilitation. As with any drug, any one treatment won’t work for every user, and as a result the best rehabilitation programs will combine both psycho social counseling with behavioral modification programs.

But a third strategy towards prolonged abstinence, commonly used for cocaine addiction, also seems to be effective.

Contigency Management

This strategy is called contingency management (CM). The carrot and the stick…we all live our lives essentially by the principles of avoiding pain, and seeking reward, and while most drug rehabilitation programs emphasize pain (addiction) avoidance, contingency management provides the carrot to the matrix. What contingency management is, is a system in which recovering addicts are rewarded for periods of abstinence with rewards of increasing values, and the longer the period of abstinence, the bigger the reward.

These rewards are usually non monetary vouchers for things such as movies, gasoline or other entertainment vouchers, and the system has proven reliably effective as a strategy for crystal meth addiction recovery. Clinical studies indicate that the use of contingency management in a recovery program is associated with longer periods of sobriety. Long used for cocaine addiction, contingency management is becoming an increasingly common element of crystal meth recovery.

You can’t have the stick without the carrot, and it makes sense that by making treatment more comprehensive, recovery outlooks would be brighter. Research continues on how best to incorporate contingency management into crystal meth recovery, but it is encouraging that there is at least some good news for the treatment of the ever increasing numbers of people devastated through an addiction to crystal meth.

Recovery from crystal meth can be daunting. Not only is the drug so addictive, and as a result are the cravings for the drug so intense, the negative psychological effects of crystal meth cessation can last or months or even years. When these two factors are combined, the high recidivism rates of crystal meth addicts in recovery are better understood.

In response to the rising rates of crystal meth addiction in the country, and also in response to the devastation that an addiction to crystal meth can cause, there have been a number of research studies done on what treatment approaches are the most effective for crystal meth rehabilitation. As with any drug, any one treatment won’t work for every user, and as a result the best rehabilitation programs will combine both psycho social counseling with behavioral modification programs.

But a third strategy towards prolonged abstinence, commonly used for cocaine addiction, also seems to be effective.

Contigency Management

This strategy is called contingency management (CM). The carrot and the stick…we all live our lives essentially by the principles of avoiding pain, and seeking reward, and while most drug rehabilitation programs emphasize pain (addiction) avoidance, contingency management provides the carrot to the matrix. What contingency management is, is a system in which recovering addicts are rewarded for periods of abstinence with rewards of increasing values, and the longer the period of abstinence, the bigger the reward.

These rewards are usually non monetary vouchers for things such as movies, gasoline or other entertainment vouchers, and the system has proven reliably effective as a strategy for crystal meth addiction recovery. Clinical studies indicate that the use of contingency management in a recovery program is associated with longer periods of sobriety. Long used for cocaine addiction, contingency management is becoming an increasingly common element of crystal meth recovery.

You can’t have the stick without the carrot, and it makes sense that by making treatment more comprehensive, recovery outlooks would be brighter. Research continues on how best to incorporate contingency management into crystal meth recovery, but it is encouraging that there is at least some good news for the treatment of the ever increasing numbers of people devastated through an addiction to crystal meth.

Occasional Crystal Meth Use in Adolescence Can Accelerate the Progression of Parkinson’s Later in Life

Even occasional crystal meth binges during adolescence may accelerate the progression of brain aging diseases decades later in life.

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina looked at the long term behavioral deficit effects of binge crystal meth use in an animal study; and they found that a single binge administration of crystal meth in adolescent rats with a predisposition to develop a Parkinson’s like disease led to an accelerated presentation of this disorder a few months later, when the rats were approaching old age.

The rats in the study had a gene sequence altered presentation of the Parkinson’s causing GDNF protein. This protein, which repairs and restores dopaminergic cells in the brain, was less present in the genetically altered rats, as the protein is less present in humans predisposed to the development of Parkinson like neuro muscular conditions. The rats that were given the dose of methamphetamine developed the neuro muscular symptoms of the disease much more severely and at an earlier age than the rats not given the binge administration of crystal meth.

The implications are that teenage occasional binge crystal meth users with an existing predisposition for Parkinson’s like disorders, while not necessarily suffering gross adverse consequences from occasional meth use during their younger years, may be accelerating the progression and intensity of the disease in decades to come. And since meth seems to influence the functioning of the dopaminergic cells in the brain, it may lead to increased presentations of neuromuscular conditions in people not otherwise predisposed to their occurrence.

Scary Stuff

We already know how physical and mentally destructive meth can be, and the ravages of even a few years of meth abuse are tragic to contemplate; but with research now indicating that even occasional meth use may increase neuro degenerative disease for people who do not develop dependencies to the drug, the tragic net of crystal meth seems to be widening. It seems that even users who avoid the incredibly destructive and easy to acquire addiction to meth may pay a severe and long term price for their occasional meth usage.

The study results are a very preliminary exploration of the long term consequences of meth on the development of neuro muscular pathologies, and future research may uncover some methods to protect users from the mental ravages of the drug. For now though, it’s another great reason to avoid even trying meth once. The price of meth on all levels is just too high, and even a single dose may decrease long term health and quality of life.

Even occasional crystal meth binges during adolescence may accelerate the progression of brain aging diseases decades later in life.

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina looked at the long term behavioral deficit effects of binge crystal meth use in an animal study; and they found that a single binge administration of crystal meth in adolescent rats with a predisposition to develop a Parkinson’s like disease led to an accelerated presentation of this disorder a few months later, when the rats were approaching old age.

The rats in the study had a gene sequence altered presentation of the Parkinson’s causing GDNF protein. This protein, which repairs and restores dopaminergic cells in the brain, was less present in the genetically altered rats, as the protein is less present in humans predisposed to the development of Parkinson like neuro muscular conditions. The rats that were given the dose of methamphetamine developed the neuro muscular symptoms of the disease much more severely and at an earlier age than the rats not given the binge administration of crystal meth.

The implications are that teenage occasional binge crystal meth users with an existing predisposition for Parkinson’s like disorders, while not necessarily suffering gross adverse consequences from occasional meth use during their younger years, may be accelerating the progression and intensity of the disease in decades to come. And since meth seems to influence the functioning of the dopaminergic cells in the brain, it may lead to increased presentations of neuromuscular conditions in people not otherwise predisposed to their occurrence.

Scary Stuff

We already know how physical and mentally destructive meth can be, and the ravages of even a few years of meth abuse are tragic to contemplate; but with research now indicating that even occasional meth use may increase neuro degenerative disease for people who do not develop dependencies to the drug, the tragic net of crystal meth seems to be widening. It seems that even users who avoid the incredibly destructive and easy to acquire addiction to meth may pay a severe and long term price for their occasional meth usage.

The study results are a very preliminary exploration of the long term consequences of meth on the development of neuro muscular pathologies, and future research may uncover some methods to protect users from the mental ravages of the drug. For now though, it’s another great reason to avoid even trying meth once. The price of meth on all levels is just too high, and even a single dose may decrease long term health and quality of life.

Crystal Meth implicated in increasing HIV infection rates within the gay community

While high we do things that we wouldn’t otherwise do, and with a loss of inhibition and a loss of impulse control, it’s too easy to contract a deadly disease with a moment’s lapse of judgment.

Unfortunately, with the continuing prevalence of recreational meth use within west coast gay communities, and a recent spread of meth within east coast venues, gay community leaders are growing concerned and exasperated. They bemoan that the hard work of a decade of safer sex campaigns is becoming unraveled through the use and abuse of party drugs…and statistics seem to back their anguish.

Viagra and Meth

A major risk factor for the contraction of HIV is the concurrent use of erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra and meth, and in certain west coast communities, more than a third of newly HIV infected men reveal having used meth within the last 6 months. As if the physical and mental devastation of crystal meth was not enough, while speeding on meth, there is a great loss of inhibitions and a fearless reckless desire to act on impulses. With the internet fueling informally organized home meth and sex parties, the spread of HIV has grown exponentially after years of declines.

In addition to meth fueled risky behaviors, HIV advocates explain that a new generation of gay men, aware of the major breakthroughs in HIV and AIDS treatments, simply do not fear the disease as they should, and do not take the needed steps to protect themselves. Besides the dangers of STD’s including HIV, syphilis and others, increasing numbers of long time weekend meth users are ultimately finding the temptations of meth too great, and within the gay community there has been an endemic increase in meth addiction rates.

While throughout the country the average meth user is predominantly rural and from a lower socio economic class, the average gay meth user is just as likely to be an urban professional.

Meth certainly does not discriminate. Newly launched public awareness campaigns have drawn criticism for their negativity and scare mongering tactics, but proponents defend the severity of the ads explaining that they wanted to provoke a reaction, and that the scope of the problem demanded a forceful response.

Although the debate about appropriate reactions to the meth fueled HIV increases rage primarily within the gay community, the reality of meth and risky behaviors transcends all communities, and any recreational or dependent meth user greatly impairs their judgment and increases the probability of contracting HIV and other sexually transited diseases. Another great reason not to use devastating crystal meth, and to get treatment help before it’s too late if you already do.

While high we do things that we wouldn’t otherwise do, and with a loss of inhibition and a loss of impulse control, it’s too easy to contract a deadly disease with a moment’s lapse of judgment.

Unfortunately, with the continuing prevalence of recreational meth use within west coast gay communities, and a recent spread of meth within east coast venues, gay community leaders are growing concerned and exasperated. They bemoan that the hard work of a decade of safer sex campaigns is becoming unraveled through the use and abuse of party drugs…and statistics seem to back their anguish.

Viagra and Meth

A major risk factor for the contraction of HIV is the concurrent use of erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra and meth, and in certain west coast communities, more than a third of newly HIV infected men reveal having used meth within the last 6 months. As if the physical and mental devastation of crystal meth was not enough, while speeding on meth, there is a great loss of inhibitions and a fearless reckless desire to act on impulses. With the internet fueling informally organized home meth and sex parties, the spread of HIV has grown exponentially after years of declines.

In addition to meth fueled risky behaviors, HIV advocates explain that a new generation of gay men, aware of the major breakthroughs in HIV and AIDS treatments, simply do not fear the disease as they should, and do not take the needed steps to protect themselves. Besides the dangers of STD’s including HIV, syphilis and others, increasing numbers of long time weekend meth users are ultimately finding the temptations of meth too great, and within the gay community there has been an endemic increase in meth addiction rates.

While throughout the country the average meth user is predominantly rural and from a lower socio economic class, the average gay meth user is just as likely to be an urban professional.

Meth certainly does not discriminate. Newly launched public awareness campaigns have drawn criticism for their negativity and scare mongering tactics, but proponents defend the severity of the ads explaining that they wanted to provoke a reaction, and that the scope of the problem demanded a forceful response.

Although the debate about appropriate reactions to the meth fueled HIV increases rage primarily within the gay community, the reality of meth and risky behaviors transcends all communities, and any recreational or dependent meth user greatly impairs their judgment and increases the probability of contracting HIV and other sexually transited diseases. Another great reason not to use devastating crystal meth, and to get treatment help before it’s too late if you already do.

Post traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and the war in Iraq

The incidence rates of post traumatic stress disorder in returning combat soldiers are about 30%. Since PTSD greatly increases the likelihood of drug abuse and addiction, we need to be ready to support returning soldiers with the respect and treatment they deserve.

Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder that affects people who have been exposed to a terrifying and perceived life threatening situation. While the threat to life is usually a threat to the PTSD sufferer’s life, the threat to another (spouse, child or friend) can also induce symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Violent crime, rape and other traumas can all induce PTSD, as can terrorist attacks such as Sep 11; but at greatest risk of PTSD are soldiers who have faced combat, and it is estimated that about 30% of all combat soldiers will suffer the effects of PTSD to some degree. The symptoms of PTSD are anxiety, recurring nightmares, flashbacks, sleep disorders, an inability to enjoy life and sometimes even irritability or feelings of aggression. The symptoms of PTSD generally occur within a month of exposure to a life threatening trauma, but may not occur for many months or even years after the event. To be diagnosed as a stress disorder, the symptoms must present for more than one month. A presentation of PTSD greatly increases the likelihood of substance abuse and dependence, and trauma survivors often use escape into alcohol or other dugs to minimize the symptoms of the disorder. Ultimately though, substance abuse exacerbates the anxiety and other symptoms associated with the disorder, and greatly lengthens the recovery process. Addictions professionals used to regard the dual problems of addiction and PTSD and separate and distance entities that required distinct treatments; and prevailing wisdom called for the addiction to be treated first, and to wait for a bettering of drug taking behaviors before tackling the PTSD. With a greater understanding of the disorder, and after witnessing appalling recidivism rates, it is now generally accepted that treatment for the two conditions must be integrated and comprehensive for any bettering of dual addiction and stress disorder symptoms. Therapeutic approaches to the treatment of a dual diagnosis of addiction and PTSD are cognitive therapy, peer group therapy with other PTSD sufferers, private counseling and pharmacological treatment of the symptoms of PTSD. Anti depressants and anxiolitics can be very effective when targeted against the symptoms expression of PTSD. I count myself lucky that I’ve never been subject to any life threatening trauma or violent attack; and while I’ve never served in the armed forces, when I hear the soldier’s accounts of their daily experiences in Iraq, I cannot imagine a more terrifying and stressful period of life than that endured by our soldiers patrolling the hostile and dangerous streets of Baghdad and other cities. We need to be therapeutically ready for a massive increase in substance abuse and destructive behaviors amongst soldiers returning from combat zones, and we need to have necessary access to treatment at the ready for those soldiers that need help overcoming the legacy of combat. Regardless of your views on the legitimacy of the war, the soldiers had no say in the political machinations that led to combat, and they deserve our respect and our compassionate treatment once returned home.

The incidence rates of post traumatic stress disorder in returning combat soldiers are about 30%. Since PTSD greatly increases the likelihood of drug abuse and addiction, we need to be ready to support returning soldiers with the respect and treatment they deserve.

Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder that affects people who have been exposed to a terrifying and perceived life threatening situation. While the threat to life is usually a threat to the PTSD sufferer’s life, the threat to another (spouse, child or friend) can also induce symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Violent crime, rape and other traumas can all induce PTSD, as can terrorist attacks such as Sep 11; but at greatest risk of PTSD are soldiers who have faced combat, and it is estimated that about 30% of all combat soldiers will suffer the effects of PTSD to some degree. The symptoms of PTSD are anxiety, recurring nightmares, flashbacks, sleep disorders, an inability to enjoy life and sometimes even irritability or feelings of aggression. The symptoms of PTSD generally occur within a month of exposure to a life threatening trauma, but may not occur for many months or even years after the event. To be diagnosed as a stress disorder, the symptoms must present for more than one month. A presentation of PTSD greatly increases the likelihood of substance abuse and dependence, and trauma survivors often use escape into alcohol or other dugs to minimize the symptoms of the disorder. Ultimately though, substance abuse exacerbates the anxiety and other symptoms associated with the disorder, and greatly lengthens the recovery process. Addictions professionals used to regard the dual problems of addiction and PTSD and separate and distance entities that required distinct treatments; and prevailing wisdom called for the addiction to be treated first, and to wait for a bettering of drug taking behaviors before tackling the PTSD. With a greater understanding of the disorder, and after witnessing appalling recidivism rates, it is now generally accepted that treatment for the two conditions must be integrated and comprehensive for any bettering of dual addiction and stress disorder symptoms. Therapeutic approaches to the treatment of a dual diagnosis of addiction and PTSD are cognitive therapy, peer group therapy with other PTSD sufferers, private counseling and pharmacological treatment of the symptoms of PTSD. Anti depressants and anxiolitics can be very effective when targeted against the symptoms expression of PTSD. I count myself lucky that I’ve never been subject to any life threatening trauma or violent attack; and while I’ve never served in the armed forces, when I hear the soldier’s accounts of their daily experiences in Iraq, I cannot imagine a more terrifying and stressful period of life than that endured by our soldiers patrolling the hostile and dangerous streets of Baghdad and other cities. We need to be therapeutically ready for a massive increase in substance abuse and destructive behaviors amongst soldiers returning from combat zones, and we need to have necessary access to treatment at the ready for those soldiers that need help overcoming the legacy of combat. Regardless of your views on the legitimacy of the war, the soldiers had no say in the political machinations that led to combat, and they deserve our respect and our compassionate treatment once returned home.