Using EMDR to Address Co-Occurring PTSD in Florida Drug Rehab

Enlargement of PTSD on a dictionary page.

Many people are exposed to stress at some point in their lifetime, and the body’s reactions can vary. A stressful event can lead to uncontrolled reactions in the body and mind which have the potential to become post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD has a proven link to substance abuse, where a sufferer may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate feelings of unease, anxiety, and depression. When a person with PTSD has a co-occurring substance use disorder, therapists can use EMDR in drug rehab to treat the underlying trauma that contributes to addiction.

What is EMDR?

EMDR is short for a psychotherapy treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. First developed in 1987, this is a form of therapy that aims to alleviate the stress associated with traumatizing memories.

During an EMDR session, the client is asked to focus on external stimuli while they attend to brief doses of disturbing material simultaneously. By directing lateral eye movements, the therapy can access the brain’s traumatic memory network and form new associations.

These new associations enable a patient to eliminate sources of emotional distress. This includes addressing triggers for stress as well as building tools to deal with PTSD. The treatment also helps clients activate their own natural healing processes.

Using EMDR to Address Co-Occurring PTSD

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that PTSD can develop from a wide range of traumatic events. This disorder is often associated with military service, but other trauma might include sexual assault, abuse, accidents, natural disasters, and other violent crimes. Going through something like this, or even watching a loved one suffer, can elicit a fight or flight response that is long-lasting.

EMDR is a specialized treatment that can help address PTSD as a co-occurring disorder with substance abuse. With EMDR, a patient can learn to address and face feelings associated with past trauma, which can lead to a reduction in anxiety, depression, and anger.

With some patients, relief from the symptoms of PTSD can be achieved in a small number of EMDR sessions or even in just the first session. With others, it takes a bit longer. What remains a mystery is exactly how or why the treatment works.

One sleep researcher at Harvard University has suggested that, by continually shifting the eye’s focus, you are able to alter the chemicals in the brain. The belief is that EMDR permits the brain to re-process hurtful memories in a way that less threatening. Brain studies have revealed that EMDR therapy expands the hippocampus, which is an area of the brain that contracts in patients with PTSD.

Man sitting down looking dizzy.

Get EMDR Treatment in a Florida Drug Rehab

Have you or any of your loved ones been self-medicating PTSD symptoms with drugs or alcohol? Past trauma is a common contributor to substance abuse in the U.S., so you are not alone. Fortunately, there is specialized help available at a Florida drug rehab.

When a co-occurring disorder is present, such as PTSD, addiction treatment is most effective when all issues are addressed simultaneously. EMDR is offered at Orlando Recovery Center along with other therapies that the program will tailor to best suit your needs. Contact us now to learn more about how our comprehensive addiction treatment program can help you break free from the pain of addiction and PTSD.