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As more and more soldiers return from the Middle East, there has been increased attention given to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. It has been known that PTSD has existed practically since there were wars. Mention of it was made in the book "A Soldier's Heart," which told the story of a Confederate soldier and his experiences during the Civil War, and there is no reason not to believe that it could have easily existed before then.

Many health care professionals are now beginning to consider PTSD and substance abuse as falling within the realm of a "dual diagnosis;" that is, an underlying mental or personality disorder as well as addiction to alcohol or drugs is present. For this reason, there have been studies, some of which have been funded by grants from different government agencies such as SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) pertaining to PTSD and the types of addiction treatment protocols that should be implemented .

A recent grant put forth some ideas for conducting rehabilitation of those veterans who are displaying signs or have been diagnosed with PTSD, and who have drug or alcohol problems. The program described in the grant was implemented to some degree (basically for as long as the money from the grant lasted) and provided some insight into the differences between regular substance abuse treatment and that which was given to those with suspected or definitively diagnosed PTSD.

The findings revealed that those with PTSD exhibit some of the same characteristics and symptoms of others with substance problems. These including an inability to handle stress, impulsive behavior, inability to interact successfully in both family and social situations and others.

When determining the best way to go about implementing rehab programs, it was discovered that by letting the patient who suffered from both PTSD and substance abuse take an active part in his treatment plans and goals, he was more likely to be receptive to the addiction treatment. The patient was encouraged to put his specific goals that he wanted to reach through rehabilitation, as well as his perception of what weaknesses or obstacles he think he faced that could prevent this from happening.

The success of patients undergoing substance abuse treatment through this program was rated in "Stages of Change" and "Stages of Treatment". These included the first thoughts and opinions that the patient had as he began the program, and how he perceived the same thoughts and opinions as the program progressed.

Where and when necessary, medication was administered to help the patient deal with specific problems as they related to both PTSD and substance abuse. In addition, the patient participated in both individual and group counseling sessions, similar to those in other rehab programs, and attended sessions designed to help identify triggers that could lead to relapse as well as those which could worsen one's PTSD.

Many of the techniques used did follow the same or similar guidelines as those used in regular addiction treatment programs; others were designed for this specific situation.
Keywords: rehabilitation, rehab programs, addiction treatment, substance abuse treatment


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