How PTSD and Substance Abuse are Connected

Addiction Trauma PTSD

Traumatic events can leave a person feeling unstable long after the event has passed. Sometimes trauma can cause post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.  PTSD occurs when trauma and associated feelings are not resolved. Symptoms of PTSD include sleep disturbance, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety and depression, excessive fears, impulsivity and addictive behaviors. People with unresolved trauma often turn to alcohol and other drugs as a means to self-medicate. While this may alleviate their stress temporarily, it is never a long-term solution and eventually substance abuse becomes yet another source of pain and trouble for an already suffering person.

Poor lifestyle choices can also put a substance abuser at greater risk for re-traumatization or PTSD.  Impaired driving, being in dangerous situations to get drugs or alcohol and drugs effects on a person’s judgment or alertness can lead to an increased risk of re-experiencing traumatic events. Whatever the cause for the correlation, the fact is that people suffering addiction very often have the additional problem of unresolved trauma. In these cases it is always best to treat the drug and alcohol addiction first but not to stop there.

The trauma survivor may work very hard to get and stay sober only to find other compulsions replacing drugs and alcohol, but once recovery from addiction is underway a person suffering from unresolved trauma will benefit greatly from trauma-focused therapies like PTSD intervention, body psychotherapy, which targets physiological responses, art and equine therapy or medications for depression and anxiety.

A licensed therapist can help find the best treatment plan for each individual. The bottom line is that resolving past trauma may require professional help but it is essential to living a truly healthy and gratifying sober life. For more information or to get help, contact Oceanside Malibu.