female therapist talks to man in army shirt and dog tags about ptsd and substance abuse

The Connection Between PTSD and Substance Abuse

PTSD and substance abuse go hand-in-hand for up to two-thirds of people with this stress disorder. In fact, people with PTSD are four times more likely to suffer from addiction than their peers without mental health problems, according to the Journal of Clinical Psychology. So what is PTSD and how does it affect addiction and treatment?

If you suffer PTSD with substance abuse or addiction, you need help from a dual diagnosis treatment program. These programs available at leading addiction and PTSD treatment centers help you heal from both problems at the same time. You can enjoy healthy recovery and a more stable, productive and fulfilling life after treatment.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition resulting from the prolonged reaction to having endured stress. About seven percent of Americans experience PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH). This mental health condition occurs after a life-threatening or highly traumatic event, as a result of the “fight or flight” response humans experience when we feel powerless or unsafe.

Our fight or flight response serves us well in an emergency. It changes our brain chemical levels, heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and body temperature. As a result, we experience heightened attention and focus with a rush of adrenaline. This makes us alert, awake, and ready to act or escape.

PTSD takes hold when this set of physical reactions do not subside after the danger passes. You first notice your PTSD symptoms only months after the events or as long as several years later. Common traumatic events leading to PTSD include car accidents, crime victimization, combat, natural disaster, injury, childhood trauma, a loved one’s death, or witnessing traumatic events.

A diagnosis of PTSD comes from symptoms interfering your everyday life. If the symptoms continue for at least one month, you may receive a diagnosis of the disorder. These signs include avoidance of others, places, or things. You also experience flashbacks, sleep problems, edginess, anger, mood swings, depression, guilt, lost interest, and memory problems.

The Connection Between PTSD and Substance Abuse

Many people with PTSD resort to drug or alcohol abuse to ease their troublesome symptoms. This relation between PTSD and substance abuse proves far more common than you think. Many people experience trauma and turn to substances in self-medication of their deep psychological wounds. In this way, you can understand how addiction takes hold.

Unfortunately, self-medication by using drugs or alcohol only feels good for a little while. Soon, after tolerance and dependence take place, daily life becomes a bigger and much more dramatic struggle of PTSD symptoms and addiction. This cycle is the side effect of the relation between PTSD and substance abuse, although no one sets out to suffer either condition.

Luckily, you or the person you love can enjoy healthy recovery from PTSD and substance abuse. That recovery comes from the help you receive in a dual diagnosis treatment program. So what does dual diagnosis treatment include?

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for PTSD and Substance Abuse

Dual diagnosis treatment diagnoses both mental health problems and addiction, then provides the therapies and programs needed to put these conditions behind you.

Programs of dual diagnosis treatment include:

  • Medical detox
  • Inpatient rehab
  • Day treatment
  • Intensive outpatient program
  • Extended care program

Promises Behavioral Health understands the cycle of PTSD and substance abuse. At Promises, you learn how to stop using drugs in self-medication and how to build a better life. Learn more about dual diagnosis treatment at Promises Behavioral Health by calling 844.875.5609.             


Scroll to Top