Five years ago our nation’s most costly natural disaster took place, and unfortunately many people are still trying to recover. Hurricane Katrina made landfall this week in 2005, killing 2,000 people and displacing more than 250,000 others. While New Orleans suffered the worst attack because of the city’s massive flooding, the southern part of our country, from Louisiana to Florida, was affected.
The hurricane naturally caused much devastation, injury, and death, but even after surviving the initial blow, residents have found the recovery process to be brutal, and mental illness and substance abuse have been some of the results.
Mental Illness among Victims
Anxiety is a huge concern among Katrina survivors, as well as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The hurricane was traumatic, the flooding was overwhelming, and the loss of homes, schools, and churches was disturbing. Then there was the death of loved ones that many endured. Trauma like this can be expected to cause mental disorders such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Feelings of helplessness can really affect the mind, and many people initially felt the toll caused by the devastation.
But long term effects are also plaguing residents. Many lost jobs and have not been able to find new employment. Deserted neighborhoods can still be found, some people still don’t have real homes, and frustrations with insurance and finances are often a daily struggle.
Substance Abuse a Result of Mental Illness
Alcoholism and drug abuse are more common when depression or PTSD are present. Someone who has experienced a shocking event or who daily struggles with feelings of depression often finds substance abuse to be the way they can make it through the day. The mind-numbing drugs or alcohol help them forget their worries, and they become the crutch people begin to rely on. But the effects of drugs and alcohol will eventually catch up to a person and then they are left with substance abuse or addiction on top of all their other troubles.
Help for Hurricane Victims
The way to deal with stress and worry is not to take up drinking or experimenting with drugs. These will only make it worse. What will help these residents is solid advice and counseling from a professional. The residents of Louisiana also need to have some assurance that they will be able to get back on their feet again. Louisiana’s “Road Home” program was made to provide financial aid to hurricane victims, and the Louisiana Spirit Recovery program was a temporary project to help with stress management among residents. We shouldn’t forget about the hurricane victims, or assume they are ok because it has been 5 years. Those with ongoing struggles still need the support and programs to continue to help them rebuild their lives, and to maintain a healthy state of mind.