The Relationship Between PTSD and Substance Abuse

What Is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that occurs within someone after they have witnessed or experienced a life-threatening or traumatic event. During the event, it feels as though you have no control over what is happening, and frequently, it is a frightening situation to witness. While most people will go through traumatic events in life, post traumatic stress disorder affects individuals differently as the memories and emotions attached to the traumatic event often cause disruptions in someone’s life for years after the event. These disruptions can look like flashbacks, nightmares, and feelings of fear, anxiety, or exhaustion. 

Co-Occurring PTSD and Substance Abuse

Living with PTSD can create crippling side effects that impact how someone can operate throughout their day-to-day life. To find a way to mitigate the unpleasant side effects, many will turn to substance abuse as a method of numbing the painful memories and emotions to have momentary escape and relief from the symptoms of PTSD. While, at the moment, substance abuse can help to provide a brief reprieve, there is actually evidence that suggests that drugs and alcohol use will worsen your symptoms and overall mental health well-being. Once you are no longer feeling the effects of drugs and alcohol, many will feel the same feelings and symptoms of PTSD. This will often result in a more heightened state resulting in individuals turning back to drugs and alcohol to cope and, thus, beginning a cycle of PTSD and addiction. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Each individual living with PTSD and addiction will experience their own unique set of symptoms, but there are common signs and symptoms of PTSD. Depending on the person, these signs and symptoms may occur within one month after the traumatic event and, for some, may start to occur one year after the event. Common signs and symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Relieving the traumatic moment as if it just happened, also known as flashbacks 
  • Experiencing traumatic dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event 
  • Recurring memories of the traumatic event 
  • Severe emotional and physical reactions to a situation, emotion, or person that reminds you of the event
  • Attempting to avoid thinking or feeling emotions about the traumatic situation 
  • Avoiding people, situations, or places that remind you of the traumatic event to attempt to prevent painful memories to occur 
  • Changes in thinking and mood
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Difficulty with memory 
  • Feeling emotionally vacant or numb 
  • Inability to feel positive emotions 
  • Unable to maintain close relationships 
  • Negative physical responses 
  • Self-destructive behavior 
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Becoming easily frightened or startled
  • Having a heightened sense of emotions or feeling in distress when the anniversary of the traumatic event occurs 

Common household drugs someone may turn to include:

Top Ten Most Common Drugs Found in the Home

Treatment Options for PTSD and Substance Abuse

There is hope for you to address your PTSD and substance use disorder through a dual diagnosis treatment program. Patients will have the support of licensed clinicians who will work with them to identify what is at the root of their drug or alcohol addiction through behavioral therapy and holistic therapies while also addressing the core traumatic events and emotions that are the basis of their PTSD. You will explore how both your PTSD and substance use disorder have impacted each other and learn methods of coping and healing that will set you up for a healthy future in sobriety, plus emotional regulation and stability. 

Behavioral Therapies for PTSD

Effective treatment for PTSD will focus on behavioral therapy and psychotherapy methods that will assist you in addressing your history of trauma to overcome the negative responses to the triggers or trauma responses. Standard therapies offered for PTSD treatment are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy 
  • Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy 
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing 
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy 
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy 

PTSD and Addiction Treatment in Tampa at WhiteSands

The WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab team has developed an addiction treatment program that will effectively address your alcohol and drug addiction and respectfully address the traumas of your past that have impacted your PTSD and addiction. Our compassionate clinicians understand the depths of emotions tied to your PTSD while honoring your need for a safe space to heal and a therapeutic process based on your terms and pace that feels comfortable for you. Our dual diagnosis treatment program utilizes the top-tier approaches to drugs and alcohol addiction and trauma therapy to help you develop a newfound life in sobriety, health, and happiness. Give us a call today to speak with one of our counselors and have all your questions answered about inpatient treatment or outpatient rehab options, so you are confident in starting your healing process today.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.