PTSD and Addiction

Trauma of the past fuels the addiction of today.

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PTSD and Addiction

What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition that can develop after a person has survived unpleasant, dangerous, or frightening incidents. PTSD is a condition that can be caused due to immense psychological stress, fear, agony, physical, or sexual assault; unexpected death of near ones, war, accident, or natural disaster. Most of the people who have lived a traumatic condition might undergo stress, fear, shock, anger, nervousness, and even guilt. But in people with PTSD, these emotions grow to such an extent that it starts affecting them psychologically, holding them back from living a normal life. The gravity of the disease and duration differs in every person. Some people get cured within six months while others suffer a lot more. Some of the symptoms of PTSD are:

▪       Reliving the traumatic experience

▪       Avoiding the places, people, or situations which remind the person of the traumatic                          incident.

▪       Hyper arousal symptoms such as irritability, anger, and difficulty in concentration etc. Alcohol and drug addiction falls in this category as              PTSD sufferers might use these substances to avoid feeling the pain of the traumatic incident. 

Why do people with PTSD turn to alcohol/drugs and why is the combination so dangerous?

A combination of PTSD and addiction is dangerous. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and can hence worsen depression and anxiety in a PTSD affected individual. PTSD sufferers might indulge in alcoholism and or other dangerous narcotics to overcome their pain, fear, and anxiety. Regular and prolonged use of these drugs would eventually yield to addiction. Initially, alcohol and drug addiction may help a PTSD person forget the pain and fear associated with the traumatic incident. It might help them to sleep well. But, the positive effects of the drugs fade away gradually as the unpleasant memories continue their taunts. In fact, once the drugs wear off and the person regains sobriety, he/she will desperately want to take the drug again to feel the same relief. Over time, this dosage will only increase leading to SUD (Substance Use Disorder). Substance addiction worsens the problems and the person might find themselves in the face of the following symptoms: 

▪       Risky behavior

▪       Fights

▪       Aggression

▪       Depression

▪       Paranoia

▪       Anxiety

▪       Unprotected sexual behaviour

▪       Family problems      

However, with the help of psychiatric professionals or rehab centres, PTSD and addiction can be treated and cured together.

Can PTSD and addiction be treated together?

People with PTSD and addiction need immense support and encouragement from family members as they might be reluctant to get treatment. Approaching the trauma directly may in turn cause more trauma. Such patients should be treated by professionals who understand how PTSD and addiction interact with one another and how one, lies at the core of the other. In the case of PTSD, addiction was the surface symptom that hid an underlying PTSD.  

PTSD sufferers need to undergo abstinence from their addiction before tackling issues of trauma. For the stability of recovery is required to face the truths of the past, which may be overwhelming and traumatic for those who are ill prepared in facing it. The person should be treated with intense care in a highly equipped centre with a highly experienced team. We at Solace Sabah have the people and environment for making that happen for you or a loved one. 

References:

http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd

http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-and-addiction/

More Co Occurring Disorders: