In some ways, it is understandable why some people turn to substances such as drugs and alcohol to relieve their PTSD, since they are seeking relief from the psychological curse of the disorder. But therapy and properly managed medications such as Zoloft and Prozac are better ways to combat the symptoms of PTSD than self-medicating with illegal drugs or alcohol.
Even though medication and therapy can be effective tools to deal with PTSD, many people, such as police officers and other first responders, never learn proper psychological strategies to cope with the disorder. Many default to self-treatment or avoidance tactics.
Brian A. Chopko, an associate professor of sociology at Kent State University, conducted a study to understand the relationship between mindfulness and PTSD in law enforcement. Chopko suggests that employers help employees recognize the traumatic symptoms of PTSD. He says that mindfulness as well as spiritual and religious practices can help encourage personal growth after trauma.
Conversely, avoidance strategies suppress thoughts, feelings, and emotions of events. This is being in a state of mindlessness, since the individual is not taking action towards acknowledging the fact that the event happened.
So, although it may sound counter-intuitive, mindfully revisiting trauma through exposure therapy can help a person heal. When the individual purposefully re-experiences the traumatic event, the thoughts and emotions that are embedded within the event might begin to subside.
Native Americans healing arts aim to reduce the use of avoidance tactics in coping with traumatic stress. Native American practitioners sometimes interpret dreams and use holistic methods to alter people’s consciousness and help them heal traumatic memories that were stored in the unconscious.