Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is one of the most emotionally debilitating mental health conditions. It causes intrusive memories and flashbacks of a traumatizing event. The person experiences anxiety that is so intense it interferes with their daily life. They might turn to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain. Doing so simply connects PTSD and addiction.
This creates the coexistence of a psychiatric disorder and an addictive disorder. Recovering from one cannot occur without properly treating the other.
What Connects PTSD and Addiction?
There is a complex relationship between PTSD, substance abuse and addiction. High levels of stress from trying to regain control after a traumatic event can take its toll. A person is likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to escape the uncontrollable areas of their life.
Their substance of choice increases pleasure and simultaneously decreases anxiety. This provides a distraction – if only momentarily – from difficult emotions.
Responding stressfully to a traumatic event is not unusual. It is when the response continues after the danger ends that the person might have PTSD. Symptoms can vary from a few months to several years later.
Diagnosing PTSD and Addiction
Not everyone who survives a natural disaster or witnesses a fatal incident will develop PTSD. Brain chemistry or genetics may factor into a person’s diagnosis. These factors may define how the person handles stressful situations.
What may cause a person to develop PTSD could also relate to patterns of substance abuse. The same brain regions respond to both conditions. Alcohol and drugs affect brain chemistry that regulates emotions and suppresses fear or depression.
Recovering from these co-occurring disorders requires dual diagnosis treatment. Careful exploration of what caused the person to have PTSD is combined with addiction treatment.
Treatment for PTSD and Addiction
PTSD treatment should not occur without simultaneous treatment for an addiction. Detox is often the first step when drug or alcohol dependence is significant. Healing continues with a detailed, personalized treatment plan.
The best place is in a facility that specializes in treating dual diagnosis situations. Addressing post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction at the same time can help prevent relapse.
Treatment options vary based on individual needs. For example, inpatient treatment is good for the person who needs to separate themselves from trauma-related and substance-related triggers. Outpatient care allows a person to continue meeting responsibilities while living at home and receiving treatment.
Programs use a mix of services such as:
- Psychiatric and medical care
- Individual therapy
- Education classes
- Support groups
- Aftercare planning
Find Serenity and Get the Help You Deserve
Woodlands Recovery Centers offers a combination of addiction treatment programs and supportive care to help our clients. Located on 20 acres of land in Texas, our serene facility lets you find peace again.
We have treatment services to help you turn away from using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for PTSD. Our treatment programs for dual diagnosis include:
- Substance use disorder