Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe mental health condition that has several outcomes and comorbidities. It is common among those who are commonly exposed to traumatic and stressful events, such as the military (Morgan, 2017). Of particular interest are PTSD’s association with opioid addiction and post-traumatic growth (PTG) (Elman & Borsook, 2019; Mark, et al., 2018; Patel, et al., 2017). Moreover, addiction itself, particularly opioid addiction, is associated with both PTSD and PTG (Haroosh & Freedman, 2017). A relationship can exist between these three conditions, however, current research does not identify this relationship, the mechanisms or pathways between PTSD, PTG, and opioid addiction.
Current State of Research
While current research establishes that PTSD, PTG, and opioid addiction (or addiction in general) are related to one another, no research links all three concepts together or explains their relationship in ultimate mental health outcomes. Opioid addiction and PTSD are commonly identified as comorbid conditions that amplify each other’s deleterious effects (Elman & Borsook, 2019). PTG is a relatively new concept with a limited body of research; however, current evidence suggests it is a possible outcome of recovery from PTSD, addiction (including opioid addiction), or traumatic experiences in general (Haroosh & Freedman, 2017; Mark, et al, 2018; Patel, et al., 2017). Finally, research into PTG as an outcome of military service and deployment provides insight into the psychological mechanisms responsible for PTG and PTSD.
Aim of the Proposed Study
Current research suggests that the pathways leading to PTG or inhibiting it pose significant questions, answering which can lead to new interventions aimed at improving the wellbeing of individuals, especially veterans. The aim of the proposed study is to determine whether opioid addiction factors into PTG as an outcome of experiencing traumatic experiences or suffering from PTSD. The Delphi method can be employed to consolidate expert knowledge on the subject and determine whether a relationship besides comorbidity exists.
Elman, I., & Borsook, D. (2019). The failing cascade: Comorbid post traumatic stress- and opioid use disorders. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 103, 374-383.
Haroosh, E., & Freedman, S. (2017). Posttraumatic growth and recovery from addiction. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 8(1), 1369832.
Mark, K. M., Stevelink, S. A. M., Choi, J., & Fear, N. T. (2018). Post-traumatic growth in the military: A systematic review. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, oemed–2018–105166.
Morgan, J. K. (2017). Positive outcomes in military mental health [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. North Carolina State University.
Patel, R. S., Elmaadawi, A., Nasr, S., & Haskin, J. (2017). Comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder and opioid dependence. Cureus, 9(9), e1647.