PTSD and Addiction Go Hand in Hand

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a disorder that affects over 3 million people every year in the United States. PTSD occurs when you cannot properly recover after seeing or experiencing something traumatic, such as

  • Death
  • Fire
  • Natural disasters

All of these events can cause you to experience PTSD for a short or long period of time. This disorder can affect any person of any age range, but often affects children and adults, ranging from 14 years of age and older. The older you get, the more you may experience PTSD.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Are you experiencing symptoms of PTSD? Common symptoms of this disorder include

  • Nightmares
  • Anxiety
  • Depressed Mood
  • Unwanted memories of trauma

There are many more symptoms of this condition, but the ones mentioned are the most common.

Is there A Connection Between PTSD and Addiction?

Causes of PTSD
Yes, there is a connection between PTSD and addiction. PTSD is caused by traumatic or life-threatening experiences. When you’re in danger, your “fight or flight” response triggers, which helps you remain focused and alert until there is no longer the threat of danger. When you have PTSD, your “fight or flight” response does not shut off, which can make you paranoid, wide awake, and experience difficulty sleeping.

Causes of Addiction
Addiction is a brain disease caused by frequent drug use that alters your brain’s chemistry, as well as, circuitry. The causes of addiction include, but are not limited to

  • Mental health disorder
  • Lack of family involvement
  • Peer pressure
  • Family history of addiction

These factors often make it easier for you to become addicted to drugs and alcohol than a person who does not have these underlying conditions or factors.

The Connection Between PTSD and Addiction

Do PTSD and addiction go hand-in-hand? Yes. Why? When you are under a lot of pressure and stress, you become vulnerable and more likely to try drugs or alcohol as an escape from traumatic memories and terrible thoughts for a while. Drugs create a haven for you because you no longer feel bad or have bad thoughts constantly running through your mind. Because of this primary factor, you will continue to do drugs or drink alcohol to alleviate the stress and pressure you’re under, as well as, feel better about yourself and forget every traumatic and life-threatening even you’ve encountered, thus resulting in addiction.

How Can You Tell If You or Someone You Know Is Struggling with PTSD or Addiction?

Warning Signs of PTSD
Everyone reacts to traumatic events differently, but it is normal to experience stress after a short period of time after a traumatic event occurs. The issues begin when stress lingers, and symptoms worsen as time progresses. If you experience

  • Symptoms that last longer than three months
  • Symptoms that cause a great deal of distress in daily life
  • Symptoms that disrupt your home and work life

The symptoms and process of the way your body reacts to PTSD often includes

  • Reliving the event
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
  • Negative changes in your feelings and beliefs
  • Feeling jittery or anxious

Reliving the Event-reliving the event is often referred to as re-experiencing symptoms. When you relive the traumatic event, you may feel the same you did when the event first happened, and have feelings of fear or being terrified. You may also experience nightmares or flashbacks. Flashbacks are reliving the same event more than once. Certain smells, photos, and sounds can trigger flashbacks and nightmares.

Avoiding Situations-When you avoid situations, you may also avoid people and places that remind you of something traumatic. In some instances, you may not want to talk about a situation or think about it. Do you often avoid crowds of people because you feel they pose a threat? Do you avoid driving? Do you try to keep yourself as busy as possible to avoid thinking about the event? These are all signs of you avoiding situations to prevent yourself from thinking about the tragic event(s) that occurred in your life.

Negative Changes in Feelings and Beliefs-After the traumatic event occurred, you may think of yourself and other people in a negative way. You may avoid being in a committed relationship because it is too difficult to love someone for fear that something terrible will happen to them. Due to the trauma you experienced, you may feel the entire world is a dangerous place, and that you cannot trust anyone, including friends and relatives.

Feeling Anxious and Jittery-You may feel anxious and jittery because your body and mind are always alert and on the lookout for danger every second of the day. It may also be easier than usual for you to become upset or angry. Due to these feelings of being anxious, also called hyperarousal, you may experience difficulty sleeping, afraid of loud noises or have extreme difficulty concentrating.

How Can I Help Myself or Someone I Know with PTSD or Addiction?

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. We are here to help you and your family overcome this obstacle. The first step to recovery is seeking help, and by reading this, you are ready to take the first step or help someone take the first step. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day and ready to help you start your rewarding journey through recovery. We are here to help. Contact us today at 877-978-3148 for more information about how we can help you and your loved ones.