PTSD and addiction commonly co-occur. Individuals with a diagnosis of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are three times more likely to engage in substance abuse than those without a diagnosis. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for individuals dealing with both PTSD and drug addiction or alcoholism. Read on to learn more about the link between PTSD and substance abuse. You can also find out how to connect with PTSD and substance abuse treatment in Ohio.
Are Addiction and PTSD Co-Occurring Disorders?
Addiction and PTSD are often co-occurring disorders, meaning that they frequently manifest simultaneously. Several factors contribute to PTSD co-occurring disorders:
- Self-medication: Many people with PTSD turn to substances like drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication to cope with anxiety, nightmares, intrusive memories, and other distressing symptoms of PTSD. Substance use may initially provide relief but it does nothing to address the underlying issue and can lead to addiction over time.
- Complex relationship: The relationship between PTSD and substance use is complex. PTSD and addiction can co-occur when people use substances to alleviate the symptoms of trauma. Regrettably, substance abuse can also worsen and complicate the course of PTSD, making it harder to recover from both conditions.
- Higher prevalence: Research indicates that individuals with PTSD are more likely to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder (the clinical term for addiction). Seeking treatment for PTSD often reveals co-occurring substance misuse.
- Costly clinical course: Co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorder tend to lead to a more complex and costly clinical course than treating either disorder alone. This includes increased healthcare utilization and treatment challenges.
Understanding the PTSD addiction connection is essential for informing effective treatment. Integrated PTSD and addiction treatment approaches address both disorders simultaneously, and this is proven more effective than treating each condition in isolation.
Symptoms of PTSD That Can Lead to Addiction
PTSD can manifest in various ways, and some of its symptoms can lead people to turn to addictive substances as a means of coping. Here are some common symptoms of PTSD that may contribute to the development of addiction:
Recurrent intrusive memories
PTSD often involves intrusive thoughts and memories of traumatic events. To escape from these distressing recollections, some people may resort to substance use as a way to temporarily numb their emotions.
People with PTSD may avoid people, places, or activities that remind them of the trauma. This avoidance can lead to isolation, loneliness, and a desire to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to ease the emotional pain. PTSD and alcohol abuse does nothing to address the underlying problem, though.
Negative changes in thinking and mood
PTSD can cause persistent negative thoughts and emotions, such as guilt, shame, and anger. Substance use might be seen as a way to self-soothe or escape from these overwhelming feelings.
Changes in emotional reactions
PTSD can heighten emotional reactivity, leading to irritability, anger, and outbursts. Substances like alcohol or drugs might be used to manage or blunt these intense emotional reactions.
Sleep disturbances are common in PTSD. The use of substances like alcohol or sedatives may initially provide relief by inducing sleep, but it can ultimately contribute to addiction.
Some individuals with PTSD engage in reckless or impulsive behavior as a result of their condition. This can include engaging in substance abuse, which can be dangerous and further traumatizing.
Flashbacks and nightmares
Vivid flashbacks and nightmares related to the trauma can be extremely distressing. People may turn to substances in an attempt to suppress or forget these haunting experiences.
PTSD can lead to a constant state of hypervigilance and anxiety. Individuals may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and temporarily alleviate anxiety symptoms.
Understanding the link between PTSD symptoms and addiction can help inform providing appropriate treatment and support to individuals who are struggling with both conditions. Seeking professional help is the first step toward recovery.
Treatment for PTSD & Addiction
Integrated treatment approaches address both PTSD and addiction simultaneously, recognizing their interplay. This approach aims to provide comprehensive care by treating the root causes and symptoms of both conditions.
Psychotherapy, particularly trauma-focused therapy like PE (prolonged exposure) and CPT (cognitive processing therapy), is frequently employed to address PTSD. These talk therapies help individuals process traumatic experiences and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
In some cases, medication may be used to assist in addiction treatment. FDA-approved medications like buprenorphine or methadone can be prescribed to manage opioid addiction, for instance.
Support groups and peer support can play a significant role in recovery. Sharing experiences with others who have faced similar challenges can provide valuable emotional support and encouragement.
Inpatient or outpatient rehab programs may be recommended, depending on the severity of the addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder. These programs offer a structured environment for recovery and skill-building.
Treatment plans should be tailored to each person’s unique needs and circumstances. Personalized care increases the likelihood of successful recovery.
Remember that seeking help is the first step toward recovery. If you or someone that you care about is struggling with both PTSD and addiction, reaching out to a healthcare provider or addiction specialist can lead to a comprehensive assessment and appropriate treatment planning.
Get Treatment for Co-Occurring Alcohol & PTSD at Ohio Recovery Centers
We specialize in dual diagnosis treatment at Ohio Recovery Centers in Cincinnati, OH. If you have been grappling with alcohol use disorder and co-occurring PTSD, you can address both conditions simultaneously in an outpatient setting.
If you require a more intensive and immersive treatment experience, we offer IOPs (intensive outpatient programs), as well as traditional outpatient programs to help you initiate PTSD and addiction recovery.
All addictions are unique, so access a personalized blend of interventions that include medication-assisted treatment, psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, and a variety of holistic therapies. All Ohio Recovery Centers feature a robust aftercare component to minimize the likelihood of relapse derailing your recovery.
Call 877-679-2132 today and begin your recovery from PTSD and addiction tomorrow.