Alienated due to the war on PTSD and substance abuse

Alienated due to the war on PTSD and substance abuse

 wikimedia commons

wikimedia commons

When you go to a gym and speak to a personal trainer, the first thing you might think about him is that he is smart and strong. What you may not see are his struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.

Could you imagine someone who struggles with substance abuse and PTSD teaching you? Or making you a healthier and stronger person? I am a veteran with PTSD and I used alcohol to cope at a point in my life, but I found a better way to be a father to my daughter through personal training.

Society does not see what a soldier actually deals with on a day-to-day basis. Media outlets and TV shows inaccurately report that soldiers are alcohol and drug users. It is understandable why soldiers fear being open about their struggles. We, as soldiers, use different methods to cope with the traumatic events just like any other people. I believe it is assumed that the majority of soldiers have PTSD and substance abuse issues because of the media outlets ostracizing us from society.

Two out of ten veterans with PTSD also have Substance Abuse Disorder. In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one in ten returning soldiers seen in the VA had problems with alcohol and other drugs, according to the National Center for PTSD as of August 2015.

These numbers show that there is an issue with substance abuse—and I can understand. However, to assume that veterans are incapable of being in society because of alcohol or drugs is ignorant. Substances can be used to distract or numb you from the events of your past as a coping mechanism, but are very ineffective.

Obviously, substance abuse does aid in being alienated from society, but there are other people that suffer from PTSD.

The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology published statistics back in 2000 that show if you are an education deficit female with a low IQ or have a family history of mental illness, then you are at an elevated risk of PTSD.

Veterans are not the only ones that suffer from PTSD. A symptom of PTSD is your body getting stuck in Fight or Flight syndrome. When you are in a life or death situation, your body responds by keeping your mind and body on high alert. This means that endorphins and adrenaline are constantly pumped throughout your body—just in case you are attacked—so you are able to keep yourself alive.

“Stress is the essence of evolution by natural selection and close to the essence of life itself,” Anthropologist and Neuroscientist Melvin Konner said in his book titled “Understanding Trauma.

Every human, animal and plant is subject to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

As a former soldier with PTSD, I am living proof that we can evolve and coexist through open conversation and acceptance. I am proof that we can interact with people and be a positive influence to our society. We have different perspectives, but if you engage us in conversation and let go of judgements facilitated by the media, we can all learn from each other.

I have seen the worst in people and I have seen the best in humanity. I have witnessed death, caused death and survived death. Just because we struggle with that does not makes us bad people, nor should alienate us from all that we fought to protect.

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