PTSD & Alcohol/Substance Abuse

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ptsd and substance abuse

The ties between PTSD and substance abuse have been revealed long ago. People entering drug rehab centers in California have to cope with both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and drug/alcohol abuse. Often, PTSD is the underlying reason for being addicted to various substances.

PTSD is a result of witnessing or experiencing traumatic situations like accidents and injuries. PTSD is common amongst military personnel. People who witness natural disasters, terrorist attacks, assaults, or the death of family members may also suffer. 

The treatment of PTSD and addiction should be combined to work on both problems at the same time. The main goal of treatment is to use a holistic approach in addressing these two problems. Breaking this vicious circle is not an easy task, but it can be done.

Continue reading to find out why PTSD and substance abuse interlink and what to do about it.

Why PTSD and Alcohol/Substance Abuse Are Codependent?  

Psychological trauma experienced by people triggers a response in the body that releases endorphins. This helps the body to cope with stress. When the level of endorphins decreases, the body aims at replacing the effect by other means.

This encourages a person to use substances once again. 

As the consequences of trauma are not addressed, a patient recalls this traumatic event once again. Painful memories arise in their consciousness when patients hear sounds or phrases, see images that remind of traumatic events.

This may trigger flashbacks, which can lead to PTSD and codependency. 

There are a lot of cases of these flashbacks among former military men and women. As a result, they start to use alcohol or drugs to block this pain. 

The most common mistake made by people with this dual diagnosis disorder is that they try to solve the problem without asking for help. It happens because they don’t want to seem weak or helpless. They don’t realize that they’re becoming addicted to a substance and also suffer from a mental illness.

They need to escape from the reality that brings painful memories of the traumatic events they’ve experienced. Tolerance to substances increases directly when usage increases. Hence, there is a need to increase the dose all the time.

This helps achieve temporary relief, but the initial trauma isn’t addressed.

Excessive abuse of substances influences a person’s personality. This change can cause irritability, depression, anxiety, and inadequate emotional responses. Also, a person may experience problems at their workplace and at home.

His or her reasoning, decision-making patterns, and judgments become distorted once they’ve developed an alcohol use disorder or other substance abuse problem.

It often leads to relationship breakups, workplace accidents, and even losing their job. Patterns of solving problems are set, the use of alcohol or drugs is increasing.

This emotional pain increases with every mistake he or she makes. At this stage, a person requires immediate treatment as the situation is becoming dangerous.

What to Do in This Situation?

Applying for a residential treatment center or a drug rehabilitation center can help solve the problem in a safe environment.

These institutions offer effective treatment of PTSD and alcohol abuse. They can also treat conditions associated with the consumption of substances. It is important to choose a center that meets the licensing requirements for substance abuse treatment.

This is important because people suffering from alcohol addiction need specialized treatment and care, especially if they have a dual diagnosis with PTSD. Personality disorders or depression associated with substance abuse is a more complex problem that requires specialized therapy.

The most important step is that the person should realize his or her substance abuse disorder and take responsibility for addiction. Start a treatment program as soon as possible.

The target of medication is to break the cycle formed by a mental disorder and substance abuse to reach full recovery. In the first stage of treatment, it can be difficult to manage this situation as patients tend to use time-tested models of behavior when dealing with negative emotions.

How to Break the Cycle Between PTSD and Substance Abuse?

It’s almost impossible to cope with PTSD and alcohol or PSTD and drug addiction independently.

As a rule, professional help is required together with full responsibility and commitment to recovery from the side of the patient. The treatment process requires a full understanding of the ties between these two processes.

Conventional medication involves trying out different treatment methods. As trauma and substance abuse are codependent, the major goal of treatment is to teach patients to manage emotional stress without using the patterns they used to employ in the past. 

Also, working on patients’ sobriety is another task that should be simultaneously performed. This can be difficult to fulfill if patients have been addicted to drugs for a long period. The whole treatment process may take years. 

To break the cycle between PTSD and substance abuse, the following treatment approaches can be used:

  • Detox treatment to remove the remains of substances from the body is a conventional PTSD drug treatment
  • Participation in peer support programs
  • Managing mental health to analyze positive changes and address emerging issues
  • Medication with drugs for mental health to remove the symptoms of PTSD
  • Maintain continuous sobriety with the help of family and friends

These measures are effective in coping with PTSD, but few people can manage this problem alone. Support from specialists, peers, friends, and family is absolutely necessary.

The Long Road To Recovery

The treatment of PTSD and alcohol abuse requires a lot of time, patience, and commitment. The major goal of this treatment is to break the cycle between mental illness and drug addiction. Proper medical help and support of family and friends can work wonders to provide a better quality of life.

If you or a loved one is showing symptoms of alcohol addiction, a mental health disorder, or both, get in touch immediately so we can help you through our PTSD and substance abuse treatment. 

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