How PTSD Can Affect Substance Abuse and Addiction How PTSD Can Affect Substance Abuse and Addiction | Vantage Point Recovery

How PTSD Can Affect Substance Abuse and Addiction

It’s common for those who have endured significant traumatic experiences to turn to drugs and alcohol as a means for coping with emotional and psychological pain. When someone has experienced a trauma and experiences psychological symptoms as a result, he or she may be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Historically, this psychological illness was seen in soldiers who were in combat and sometimes referred to as shell shock. However, more recently, experts have come to realize that PTSD is an illness that anyone can develop after an experience that threatens their life.

For instance, someone might develop PTSD after experiencing any one of the following:

  • Rape
  • Death in the family
  • Witnessing a crime
  • Death or suicide of a close friend
  • Domestic violence
  • Natural disaster
  • Witnessing violence
  • Chronic bullying
  • Repeated abandonment
  • Physical or sexual abuse

The results of a traumatic experience might lead to challenging psychological symptoms, including nightmares, flashbacks, lack of memory, insomnia, inability to concentrate, and more. For some, the intensity of these experiences are so great that it is difficult to bear. And it is for this reason that men and women who have experienced PTSD might turn to alcohol or drugs.

In fact, historically, drugs including narcotics and tobacco were freely given to soldiers as a way to help reduce the psychological effects they might have had after seeing death on the battlefield. Of course, today, this is not considered ethical or even effective treatment. Sadly, because of this old mentality, experts have found that substance abuse and addiction have been a concern among the military. Research also found that alcohol disorders were, by far, the most common mental disorders reported as a primary diagnosis. For this reason, the United States Veterans Administration (VA) has offered substance abuse classes as a way to provide sober help for its veterans. The VA is also known to provide personal individual therapy as a way to help prevent and treat substance and/or alcohol dependence.

PTSD can also be accompanied by other forms of mental illness, such as depression. This combination of illnesses can further exacerbate the need to rely upon drugs or alcohol to cope with life. Unfortunately, there are many men and women who do not know that they are facing a mental illness. Instead, it’s common to believe that the symptoms one experiences is part of the many challenges of life. They simply bear the burden of those challenges rather than seeking assistance.

However, with mental health support for the psychological illness(es) and the addiction, treatment, such as medication and psychotherapy, can aide in the relief of those challenging symptoms. Medication can ease the psychological pain and psychotherapy can get at the root of what may be causing those symptoms.

If you or someone you know has experienced a trauma and/or is affected by PTSD, it’s important to contact a mental health professional. He or she can provide a diagnosis as well as the appropriate forms of treatment.

 

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