PTSD After an Overdose

PTSD after an overdose

As the consequences of the opioid crisis continue to ripple, overdose remains a leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S., claiming approximately 130 lives a day. But this statistic alone doesn’t capture the complete picture of the crisis. For example, it fails to consider the long-lasting consequences for people who overdose and emerge on the other side.

What Is an Overdose?

Many overdoses are accidental – the result of a miscalculation or dangerous combination of substances. In recent years, overdose rates have increased due to an influx of fentanyl circulating through the illicit drug supply. Fentanyl is an opioid that is far more potent than morphine and can quickly overwhelm someone’s body to the point of overdose.

Because fentanyl can closely resemble other substances, including legal prescription medications, many people take it without realizing what they’ve done. Since fentanyl takes effect so quickly, overdose symptoms like drowsiness, confusion, loss of consciousness and respiratory failure can emerge within minutes of exposure.

Emotional Trauma Caused by Overdose

Surviving the near-death experience of an overdose can be psychologically significant enough to cause post-traumatic stress disorder – a potentially debilitating mental illness. Even after physically recovering from the stress and bodily harm caused by the ordeal, it takes time to heal mentally.

The DSM-5-TR has identified four characteristic categories of PTSD symptoms.

  1. Intrusion: Reliving the event through unwanted memories, nightmares or flashbacks
  2. Avoidance: Deliberate attempts to evade any places, people or situations that might remind you of the trauma
  3. Cognition/mood: Negative thoughts and feelings, including fear, guilt, anger and hopelessness
  4. Arousal/reactivity: Many people with PTSD are hypervigilant. Their fight-or-flight response is always active, even when they should feel relaxed and comfortable. Because they are constantly on edge, they startle easily.

How to Heal PTSD

Dual diagnoses can be challenging because they are multifaceted and complex, encompassing addiction and mental illness. Additionally, people who have experienced one or more overdoses require comprehensive, holistic plans that address all facets of their wellness – emotional, physical, social and spiritual.

Treatment programs with a robust mental health component have proven to be the most successful at helping people overcome addiction and get on a path to lifelong recovery. In addition to the immediate lifesaving response, an overdose treatment plan should focus on establishing long-term psychological well-being.

Experience Addiction Recovery in Long Beach, CA

At New Found Life, we understand that an overdose can be a terrifying, eye-opening experience. It can also be the wake-up call needed to establish a sober lifestyle and learn healthy coping mechanisms.

Since 1993, we have been serving the Long Beach community with residential and intensive outpatient programs. We offer a comprehensive continuum of care that gives clients access to evidence-based therapies such as psychotherapy and motivational interviewing. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment option, so we’ll work closely with you to provide personalized care and one-on-one attention. Contact us to request help today.