You are probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This is when you have a traumatic experience, but instead of recovering over the following weeks and months, you are plagued by symptoms related to the trauma. These symptoms typically include avoiding anything associated with the trauma, re-experiencing the trauma in the form of flashbacks or nightmares, being constantly on edge, anxious, irritable, or short-tempered, being easily startled, and being unable to sleep. When you have PTSD, you’re always in fight-or-flight mode and everything is a threat. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can can make life miserable. Many people with PTSD use drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms and it’s estimated that more than half of people with PTSD have a substance use disorder.

Fewer people know about post-traumatic growth. Post-traumatic growth is any personal growth you experience as a result of a traumatic event. There are typically five ways in which people experience post-traumatic growth. First, the trauma may open up new opportunities. For example, someone who was the victim of a crime may lead a neighborhood watch initiative or become a victims’ rights advocate. A second way of growing is related to relationships, such as meeting new people in a grief support group, or neighbors helping each other during a natural disaster. A third way of growing is realizing hidden strength. After a traumatic experience, you may realize that if you can survive that, you can survive almost anything. A fourth way of growing might be a greater appreciation for life in general. It’s easy to take what you have for granted and a crisis can lead you to a deeper sense of gratitude. The fifth and final way people grow after a trauma is becoming more spiritual, or changing their belief system.

All of these paths of post-traumatic growth are available to anyone who has experienced a trauma or who has struggled with addiction. People who have experienced trauma or been plagued by addiction often feel broken. They may feel like they’ve wasted their lives, or that it’s too late to change. Knowing about post-traumatic growth gives you a way to reframe trauma and addiction. You can find connection and meaning in overcoming pain. As Hemingway said, you can become stronger at the broken places.

Post-traumatic growth, like any growth, is not easy. It takes consistent effort and there will be many setbacks. The important thing is to realize that every situation presents a choice. How you respond to trauma depends on whether you choose to think of it as a disaster or an opportunity to grow. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.