June is National PTSD Awareness Month June is National PTSD Awareness Month

June is National PTSD Awareness Month

June 6, 2019

National PTSD Awareness Month is observed annually in June. Epiphany Center residents have experienced significant trauma in their lives. In fact, 96% of our clients suffer from the co-occurring disorders of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as drug addiction. PTSD stems from their adverse childhood experiences as well as trauma from the streets and jails. The risk of substance abuse dramatically increases if there have been adverse childhood experiences. Therein lies the strong link between PTSD and substance abuse. The women we serve have been traumatized by  disturbing events they have internalized and avoided. In addition, a major symptom of PTSD is avoidance, and substance abuse allows for immediate avoidance. This sets up a cycle of a deeper addiction taking hold, which in turn gives rise to the probability of even more traumatic experiences occurring. 

The majority of the women we serve have grown up as children in families in which they see the adults coping with substance use. As a result, the children learn that drugs and alcohol are the "go-to" coping skill. Moreover, as children at least 50% of our residents have lived in multiple foster homes throughout their childhood and this is often traumatic in and of itself.

Most of the clients we treat have deemed the streets safer than the homes they came from, which is why they leave. The stress associated with being homeless is acute, but it is doubly so when, like many of our clients, they are responsible for the well-being of their children. All of the women we serve fall into the extremely low-income (ELI) bracket and PTSD can often come with the territory.  The opportunity to experience life in a safe and secure setting simply wasn't an option. These fundamental issues must be addressed for long-term recovery to occur.

Fortunately, Epiphany Center recognizes that there is a critical need to address trauma as part of substance abuse treatment. In this way, the client is strengthened, supported, and helped to learn new coping strategies. This is done by creating an atmosphere that is compassionate, engaging, and supportive from the outset, by modeling what healthy relationships look like and by empowering our residents to engage in collaborative decision making.

Our holistic approach to recovery is based on the premise that trauma impacts body, mind, and spirit. The work focuses on creating safety, taking back one’s power, setting boundaries in relationships, coping with triggers (relapse prevention), detaching from emotional pain (grounding), self-nurturing, and creating meaning.

Turning one’s life around requires a tremendous amount of hard work and courage. Our job – and privilege – is to support and facilitate each client in our care. On this National PTSD Awareness Month we applaud the courage of our residents as they stabilize and begin to move forward again.