Natural Disasters and Demerol Addiction

Natural Disasters and Demerol AddictionStress and addiction are closely linked. People often turn to drugs like Demerol to soothe themselves when stress levels rise. Because natural disasters tend to cause high levels of stress, they may also contribute to the development of substance abuse and dependence.

Demerol Abuse and Stress

The same natural disaster can affect those who experience it in very different ways. Many factors contribute to the way that a disaster is interpreted and handled. These include the extent and duration of exposure to traumatic events and personal history, which colors the way that events are interpreted. Even those who are not directly affected physically can be affected emotionally because of the feelings of helplessness and vulnerability that can be experienced.

People who respond to crisis events, either as volunteers or as part of their jobs, may be especially at risk of experiencing negative effects, including a higher rate of abuse of substances such as Demerol. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) produced a publication entitled A Guide to Managing Stress in Crisis Response Professions, which explains the stress response as follows:

  • When people are faced with some sort of stressor, the brain determines if inner equilibrium has been disturbed. It decides what is threatening based on questions such as whether we have experienced similar things in the past, how we felt then, how the previous situation resolved, and whether we are able to cope now. If the questions are not answered in a way that is reassuring, the stress response kicks in.
  • One of the first responses to stress is an increase in adrenaline, which is one of the major stress hormones. Heart rate increases and extra oxygen is sent to the lungs and brain. Natural painkillers called endorphins are produced. The initial stress response helps us focus our attention and gives us the energy we need to address the situation.
  • At some point, the maximum positive effect is reached and deterioration of health and performance result. When stress is chronic or traumatic, it can lead to damage of the cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems.

During stressful situations such as natural disasters people may also develop unhealthy ways of coping, such as the excessive use of drugs like Demerol.

How Natural Disasters Can Trigger Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Demerol Abuse

One of the most serious responses to a natural disaster or other trauma is the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A 2006 article in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry entitled Symptomatology and Psychopathology of Mental Health Problems After Disaster, notes the strong association of PTSD with substance abuse. Over half of men with PTSD are dependent on alcohol and 35% on other substances. A significant portion of women with PTSD also turn to drugs or alcohol, with 28% abusing alcohol and 27% turning to another substance of abuse like Demerol.

The authors note that many factors may contribute to the development of PTSD, including the nature of the trauma and the strength of the victim’s support network. They note that a central feature of the disorder is the formation of a traumatic memory and that stressors that may induce PTSD include those that trigger feelings of fear, helplessness or horror.

Experiencing Secondary Trauma after a Disaster

Unfortunately, changes brought about by natural disasters can sometimes contribute to further problems. A SAMSHA publication on healing from trauma after disasters notes that factors including the collapse of societal supports and widespread displacement can lead to increases in muggings, assault, and sexual violence. These and other post-event stressors can increase the length of time it takes to recover. The authors note that many people will recover psychologically within 12 to 24 months, but that other victims need support for a longer period of time.

Ways to Prepare for and Handle a Natural Disaster without the Use of Demerol

SAMHSA recommends the following ways to help cope before, during, and after a natural disaster or other crisis situation:

  • Before a crisis – Plan ahead for emergencies by having a safety and evacuation plan which is regularly reviewed and practiced. Know the schedules of family members and design a way to contact each other during a crisis. Have an emergency supply of items such as food, water, first aid supplies, radios, flashlights, and batteries.
  • While a crisis is ongoing – Take care of yourself as much as possible, by eating regular, healthy meals and getting adequate sleep. Practice active relaxation in the form of deep breathing, meditation, and stretching. Try to alternate high and low stress activities. Avoid alcohol, drugs, tobacco and excessive caffeine and stay in contact with friends and family members.
  • After the crisis has passed – Continue practicing relaxation and stress management techniques and draw upon the strength provided by spiritual beliefs. Maintain hobbies, interests, and relationships with family members. Have a physical checkup. Avoid turning to drugs, alcohol and other substances to cope with stress and seek substance abuse treatment if necessary.

By maintaining healthy support networks during and after a crisis, individuals can avoid turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs and alcohol.

We Can Help You Find Treatment for Demerol Addiction

If you have developed a Demerol addiction following a disaster, we can help you find treatment. If you have also developed PTSD or another mental health condition, we can help you find integrated treatment that addresses all of your needs. Counselors who staff our toll-free helpline are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions. They can check your insurance coverage, if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Call now and let us help you find your path to freedom.