ARIA - Substance Abuse and PTSD

Substance Abuse and PTSD

If you develop moderate to severe symptoms due to a traumatic event, you may have PTSD. There are some mild symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder, too. With this being said, studies show that many people have substance abuse and PTSD issues. Generally, this results from abusing drugs or alcohol after developing PTSD. 

Ideally, it is best for people to have substance abuse and PTSD treated together. Treatments might consist of medications, therapy and other techniques or modalities. If you or someone you know have these two issues or either one of them, don’t hesitate to reach out to our ARIA FL team today.

Defining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of many mental health disorders. This disorder usually starts after someone is exposed to something traumatic. It could be something they experience directly, something they witness or something that happens to someone they love or care about. Some traumatic event examples include:

  • Major accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Military combat
  • Personal assualt
  • Witnessing an assault
  • Abuse

It is necessary to note that not everyone who has experience with or sees something traumatic happen will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. There are various factors that can influence whether you or someone you know develops this disorder. For example, people in high-stress jobs, veterans and children are more likely to develop PTSD than others. 

Symptoms of PTSD

After something traumatic happens, there are numerous symptoms that might come up that may signify PTSD. Such as:

  • Troubling, involuntary, or recurrent memories of that event
  • Nightmares
  • Reactions like flashbacks
  • Long-lasting, intense psychological and/or physical distress 
  • Physical reactions like a racing heart
  • Avoiding thoughts, feelings, and/or memories of that event
  • Avoiding anything that may remind you of that event
  • Not able to recall all parts of the traumatic event or recalling everything very clearly
  • Inaccurate, persistent negative self-beliefs
  • Being in a constant negative mental and/or emotional state
  • Not taking part in activities you previously enjoyed
  • Detaching from others or feeling detached from loved ones or friends
  • Anger and irritability
  • Hypervigilance
  • Reckless behaviors
  • Becoming startled quickly and easily
  • Concentration problems
  • Issues falling and/or staying asleep

Generally, someone who has PTSD, will experience one or more of these symptoms for at least one month before they receive a diagnosis. These symptoms will likely impact your work, school, relationships, self-esteem and other areas of your life if you have PTSD, too. 

Use of Drugs with Those Who Have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

People who have symptoms of PTSD generally feel hopeless and irritated. Due to these feelings, they may turn to unhealthy lifestyle habits such as drinking or abusing drugs. In fact, studies show that about ½ of those who have post-traumatic stress disorder have substance abuse and PTSD issues.

If someone has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, they may have:

  • A difficult time when trying to stop using substances
  • Not being able to control how much or when they use the substances
  • Needing to get the same amount of substances to get preferred effects
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when they stop using drugs and/or alcohol
  • Keep using drugs and/or alcohol despite negative effects these substances have on their relationsnhips, job, and other areas of their life

When someone uses alcohol and/or drugs to ease PTSD symptoms it is known as self-medicating. Most people who self-medicate think they are relieving their symptoms of PTSD. However, the substances are only making things worse. You may be able to hide from the feelings for a bit, but they don’t go away just from using alcohol and/or drugs. In fact, the feelings usually come back ten-fold when you sober or clean up a little. 

substance abuse and PTSD

Treatments for Substance Abuse and PTSD

A long time ago, it was commonplace for substance abuse and PTSD to be treated separately. However, now professionals highly recommend that those with substance abuse and PTSD get treatments together. This is called an integrated treatment model and it helps to address the symptoms of both disorders at the same time. Usually, there are overlapping symptoms with PTSD and substance abuse, so being able to handle these symptoms at the same time can improve both conditions. It can also help to improve a person’s recovering lifestyle and reduce their risk of relapsing, too.

With this being said, there are numerous treatments for substance abuse and PTSD that might work for you. Some of these treatment options that you may want to learn more about include:

  • Medications (anti-depresants, anti-anxiety medications, neuropathic pain medications, sleep medications, and more)
  • Therapies (individual, family, group, nutritional, fitness, and other therapy options)
  • Inpatient treatment (where you stay in a residential rehab facility to attend therapy and other recovery services)
  • Outpatient treatment (where you stay at home or in a sober living community while going to a rehab center for your recovery services)
  • Detox (receiving medications and other treatments to help you get clean and sober)
  • 12-step programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other group programs are offered to help people get sober and sustain a recovering lifestyle)
  • Veterans programs (if you are a veteran, the VA generally provides a range of support groups and programs to help people work through post-traumatic stress disorder and/or addiction – you can always contact your local VA for a list of these resources)
  • Other support groups (there are a variety of addiction and PTSD recovery support groups you can either find online or in your local community – some of these support groups will help with both these issues)

There are so many different substance abuse and PTSD treatment options. The ones that work best for you are going to depend on how long you have had these issues, whether you have gone through treatment in the past, whether you have other mental health disorders and due to some other factors, as well. No matter which treatments work for you, there is one thing for certain, and that is everyone deserves to get the treatment, support and help they need when overcoming substance abuse and PTSD. 

Get Substance Abuse and PTSD Treatment Today

Are you or someone you care about dealing with substance abuse and PTSD? If so, we want you to know that you aren’t alone. There are many resources, programs and treatment options available to help people who are struggling with these issues. There should never be anyone who has to go through these disorders on their own. 

Contact us today, here at ARIA FL, to get the substance abuse and PTSD help and treatment that you need starting right away. 

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