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PTSD and Substance Abuse: 5 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

Hands of two people talking about PTSD and substance abuse signs

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops when someone has experienced one or more traumatic events. Not everyone who undergoes trauma will develop this issue, but the 20% to 25% who do are at a much higher risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD) than the rest of the population. A PTSD treatment program within substance abuse rehab is the best way to address PTSD and addiction.

If you or someone you care about struggles with PTSD and has turned to substances to cope with symptoms, contact Virtue Recovery Killeen. To learn about PTSD and substance abuse, call [Direct] today or connect with us via this online form.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD has four basic types of symptoms that plague those who struggle with this debilitating mental health condition.

Re-Experiencing Trauma

These symptoms manifest as:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Feelings of dread

With professional help, it is possible to find freedom from PTSD and addiction.


Avoidance shows up as:

  • Feelings of guilt, depression, and anxiety
  • Emotional numbness, apathy, and lack of interest in things that once mattered
  • Avoiding reminders of the trauma
  • Difficulty remembering the traumatic event

At Virtue Recovery Killeen, we strive to provide a safe space where individuals can work through their trauma and learn healthy coping methods to move forward into a life free from addiction.


Reactivity manifests as:

  • Constant stressful feelings
  • Being quick to startle
  • Outbursts of intense emotions like rage, fear, panic, or grief
  • Sleep difficulties

Our compassionate team of professionals will work with you to create an individualized plan that addresses your PTSD and SUD so you can move forward into lasting recovery.

Psychological and Emotional Health Consequences

Cognitive and mood symptoms show up as:

  • Struggling to remember details of the traumatic event
  • Emotional distortion, such as disproportionate shame or guilt
  • Mood swings
  • Negative thinking
  • Depression

Someone struggling with PTSD can experience a whole range of symptoms. Knowing the signs of PTSD and substance abuse is the first step to understanding these co-occurring conditions.

5 PTSD and Substance Abuse Signs

If you or someone you love is dealing with the consequences of unprocessed trauma and untreated PTSD, look for these signs that there is now also substance abuse to manage:

  1. Mood swings or changes in manner and behavior – When people use substances to mitigate PTSD symptoms, the difference between the high alert, emotional dysregulation of PTSD and the muted but unprocessed emotions of being under the influence becomes apparent.
  2. Focus on acquiring and using drugs or alcohol – If more time out of each day is spent planning your next drink or hit, stocking up on what you need, and then arranging your schedule so that you can indulge in self-medication, you have slipped from use to abuse.
  3. Relationships take a back seat – Even though people with PTSD struggle to maintain their relationships, they usually try to stay connected despite their reactivity and mood swings. When someone struggling with PTSD abuses substances, they prioritize that over relationships and push people away to keep their drug and alcohol use hidden.
  4. Dishonesty becomes normal – People struggling with PTSD may try not to worry their loved ones about their experiences. Still, if they misuse drugs or alcohol, they will inevitably engage in outright dishonesty to keep their habits hidden. From hiding bottles or paraphernalia to lying about plans or where they’ve been to sneaking cash out of people’s wallets, there is little out of bounds regarding addiction.
  5. Withdrawal symptoms – Sometimes you run out of vodka, your dealer forgets to stop by, or someone who loves you throws out your stash. If these happen, and you go for too long without a hit or drink, do you experience withdrawal symptoms? Your body is entirely dependent on and addicted to whatever substance you abuse, and you need help.

Seeking professional treatment for co-occurring disorders is the best and safest way to begin recovery.

Find PTSD and Substance Abuse Treatment in Texas at Virtue Recovery Killeen

Learn more about the signs of PTSD and substance abuse by contacting Virtue Recovery Killeen today via the online form or by calling [Direct].

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