NEPA battles PTSD and substance abuse

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) – Almost 8 million people in the United States have PTSD, including Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.

Stefanie Wolownik, a prevention specialist, says “What we think of is veterans in combat or we think of victims of sexual assault, victims of a crime.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a lot more common than you might think. Six to eight percent of the population has a form of PTSD.

“When PTSD is present, it impacts every aspect of our life. There are physical symptoms, it affects the functioning of the brain. It affects our emotional lives, it affects our relationships and it affects our capacity to do our jobs well.” says trauma educator Dr. Christine Kiesinger.

The disorder can be a slippery slope to substance abuse.

“We feel good and we remember that, so when we feel bad, we pick up that drink or the cigarette that calms us down, that’s how the ball rolls,” said Wolownik.

She says it’s a big issue in NEPA.

“The drug use keeps going on and before you know it there’s two six packs of bottles laying next to you or you’ve smoked a pack of cigarettes.”

But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“There is a tremendous amount of hope related to the healing of post-traumatic stress disorder. We don’t have to live this way.” Dr. Kiesinger said.

At the end of the day, they both say that there is help out there and hope for a better tomorrow.

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