Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Recovery from Addiction and PTSD

I want to take a moment to talk about recovery from drugs and alcohol. PTSD is one of those disorders that always comes to the party with friends. The most common co-occurring disorders that I see are anxiety, depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and drug and alcohol abuse. 

Drug and alcohol abuse make a lot of sense in the context of PTSD. Criterion C of PTSD is avoidance, and drinking and drugging help us to avoid our feelings. Criterion D is all about changes in the way we think and feel, and alcohol and drugs can play a major role in this. Of course, alcohol is a big part of military culture. It is what it is. 

I say all that to say this: one of the few good things to come out of the pandemic is that the recovery community has largely shifted online and will probably stay this way. The barrier to entry has been completely removed, and our excuses for not going to a meeting are no longer valid. 

Having Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) online means that instead of going to the chapel basement for a meeting, you can log into Zoom. The meeting you attend can be based in your city or in another country, so the likelihood that you're going to run into someone you know is significantly diminished. You can change your name in a Zoom room, and put up a photo rather than using your camera. 

I understand why people don't like 12-step programs. There are horrible meetings and miserable sponsors. There are also great meetings and highly supportive sponsors. Another perk of Zoom is that if you don't like the meeting you're in, you can click out of it; you can leave when you want to.

If you've been on the fence about going to an AA or NA program, now is the time to pull the trigger. Do a Google search for AA online or NA online to find a meeting. 

One thing to know about 12-step meetings is that when a meeting says it is closed that means that it is not welcoming students, clinicians, or family members. This means that if you have a desire to stop drinking or stop using, you are welcome to a closed meeting. This is known as the "third tradition," and it's incredibly important. 

You don't have to be sober to go to a meeting, either; the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop.

I encourage you to learn more about your PTSD symptoms and available treatments. We've created a Free Workbook to help you identify your symptoms so that you can make an informed decision to reclaim your life from PTSD and Moral Injury.

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