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Can PTSD Be Associated with Substance Abuse?

Hands of a person asking about the connection between PTSD and substance abuse

About one out of 10 people will be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during their lifetimes. People experience trauma in many settings and situations, from military combat to natural disasters to interpersonal violence. There is a significant overlap between PTSD and substance abuse, which means that rehab facilities that offer addiction treatment will likely include a PTSD treatment program to address co-occurring disorders.

If you or someone you care about struggles with substance abuse and PTSD, contact the team at Virtue Recovery Killeen to learn more about these two disorders and how our skilled and experienced professional staff can help you with PTSD as you begin recovery. Call [Direct] or connect via this online form. You do not have to face these challenges alone.

What Is PTSD?

Many people experience at least one trauma during their lifetimes—as many as 70%. About 20% of those will develop PTSD, though all of them may need therapeutic support to process their trauma.

Causes of PTSD

Traumatic experiences that often lead to PTSD are:

  • Sexual or physical assault, including domestic abuse and rape
  • Natural disasters like tornados, floods, fires, or hurricanes
  • Acts of terrorism, such as school shootings
  • Military combat
  • Serious accidents and injury
  • The loss of a loved one, primarily through sudden or violent death

You don’t have to struggle alone. Reach out for the help you need today. At Virtue Recovery Killeen, we understand that post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse can be brutal. We are here to provide comprehensive and compassionate support in overcoming these issues and helping you find healing in recovery.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD is defined by a specific set of debilitating symptoms that include:

  • Flashbacks and intrusive thoughts
  • Emotional and physical responses
  • Avoidance
  • Negative thoughts

If you show any of the signs above and are self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, please get help for your substance abuse and PTSD.

PTSD and Substance Abuse

People with PTSD are at much greater risk of addiction than people without a co-occurring disorder. Among men with PTSD, about half abuse alcohol or drugs, and approximately a third of women misuse substances.

The body of someone who has experienced one or multiple traumatic events tries hard to mitigate the ongoing panic, fear, and pain by flooding the system with endorphins. These natural neurotransmitters help mute pain and fear and improve good feelings. This allows the trauma victim to survive for a time, but there is inevitably a withdrawal from these chemicals. However, the person’s experience and memory of the incident continue to manifest as trauma, only now the brain is worn out and does not produce these feel-good chemicals to the extent that someone with PTSD needs to feel even relatively okay.

They turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with their PTSD as these substances bond with the receptors in the brain that will trigger the endorphin response. This is, of course, a short-term and ultimately dangerous strategy and can lead to addiction.

Find Treatment for PTSD and Substance Abuse at Virtue Recovery Killeen

Our trauma-informed outpatient addiction treatment programs offer a range of therapies, including evidence-based psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and motivational interviewing. We also offer experiential therapies that support our clients in achieving their long-term recovery goals. These therapies can help uncover the root causes of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse problems, making it easier for clients to make lasting changes. Reach out now to learn more. Call [Direct] today to learn more about our PTSD treatment program, or submit this online form to connect with one of our staff.