Call for immediate help: 888-712-8480

Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Addiction

//Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Addiction

Understanding PTSD and Addiction

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, and addiction have proven correlation to each other. PTSD is a mental disorder that develops when someone witnesses a traumatic, scary, dangerous, or life-threatening event. When a person experiences such life events, the human brain automatically triggers a “fight-or-flight” response. During a fight or flight brain response, brain chemicals that affect heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and body temperature increase and showcase as PTSD symptoms. In medical terms, this physical reaction is known as a stress response, which can occur even after the immediate danger has passed. PTSD symptoms without treatment can linger for years after the traumatic event.

Many people experiencing PTSD symptoms turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate out of the extreme feelings, fear, anxiety or stress PTSD can bring. An estimated 60-66 percent of those who suffer from PTSD also have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder.

Co-occurring PTSD and Addiction

According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health’s manuscript on the Treatment of Co-occurring Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Use Disorders, “approximately half of individuals seeking SUD [substance use disorder] treatment meet criteria for current PTSD…”

Using drugs and alcohol can temporarily numb PTSD symptoms and help people struggling with traumatic memories suppress the pain. As the “high” wears off, it is proven that drug use exacerbates PTSD symptoms. Substance abuse can be a big component in the onset of PTSD and at the same time, PTSD symptoms can push someone further into their addiction. Detox is the first step in treating the severe withdrawal symptoms that accompany drug and alcohol addiction. These withdrawal symptoms can induce stress and worsen PTSD symptoms during that time. This is why it is critical for someone struggling with withdrawal symptoms from drug and alcohol use along with PTSD symptoms to be monitored in a safe and structured setting with medical professionals, such as a medical drug and alcohol detox. Treatment must encompass components from trauma therapy as well as substance abuse programming to be effective in combatting PTSD and addiction disorders.

PTSD Signs & Symptoms

Memories and Terrors

Intrusive memories and flashbacks of the trauma

Vivid nightmares of the traumatic event

Night terrors


Avoiding all situations involving the topic of traumatic event

Avoiding thinking about the traumatic event

Trying to avoiding people, places and things that are reminders of the event.

Manic Mood Swings


Distancing from relationships

Incapability of thinking positive

Memory lapses

Erratic Behavior



Self-medicating and destructive behavior

PTSD and Addiction Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that people suffer from after suffering a trauma or disturbing event. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the stress following the event. People who suffer from PTSD and addictive disorder begin self-medicating to alleviate the painful symptoms. This may work for a short period of time, but in the long wrong can worsen the condition.

Many addiction recovery centers have services and staff who are qualified to treat PTSD and addiction, but not all are accredited to provide treatment for dual diagnosis. More often than not, people seek treatment for an addictive disorder condition and not for PTSD. When both conditions are not addressed, people leave rehab and end up relapsing again.

Types of PTSD Treatment

Lasting recovery begins with attacking the core underlying issues from inside out. Some effective psychotherapies that PTSD treatment centers use that help those suffering from PTSD recover are:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): The goal of CBT is to change the way you think about your life and liberate from problematic behavioral patterns. CBT works for those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and panic attacks.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches people how to cope appropriately and healthily with stressful events in life and have control over emotions. This, ultimately, helps people improve relationships and communication with others.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is used to treat those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who experience disruptions from bad memories, intense nightmares and flashbacks of traumatic events in their life. EMDR is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that reduces distress and strengthens adaptive perspective on a particular traumatic event.

Hypnotherapy: Using guided meditation and focused attention can help achieve a state of mindfulness that will break bad habits and cope with stress.

Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) : Traumatic memories such as sexual/physical assaults, accidents, child abuse or abandonment, death of a loved one and bearing witness to disturbing events are extremely difficult for people to process. Some people move past the event too quickly and do not properly digest the events taking place. They end up ignoring or “blocking” the awareness of the circumstance.  TIR helps those individuals reprocess these traumatic events to experience it fully, ultimately, giving them power over their reacting emotions.

Motivational interviewing (MI): Patients who receive motivational interviewing as talk therapy are usually unsure about changing harmful behavioral dysfunctions. Motivational interviewing uses different methods to cultivate a sense of positive change and motivation when complemented with other modalities. The four fundamentals that are encouraged when an interviewer is interviewing are:

  • Partnership
  • Evocation
  • Compassion
  • Acceptance

PTSD Treatment at All About Recovery

All About Recovery is a premiere trauma and addiction treatment center, accredited in treating co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. Each client is evaluated by our comprehensive clinical and medical staff to create a customized treatment plan that will best meet the client’s needs.

Our experienced, licensed trauma therapists on staff will work with every client to assess the severity of their PTSD/trauma symptoms to understand what types of therapies would work with each individual. It is our priority that every client is treated with respect and compassion, and thus require all our client support staff to be educated on how to best care for clients who are suffering with PTSD or any co-occurring disorders. We understand the importance of treating underlying causes of addiction in order to achieve the best possible shot at long-term recovery and management of PTSD symptoms.

We have experienced addiction counselors waiting for your call. There is a solution and there is hope.

100% Confidential. Available 24/7.

By |2019-03-08T21:51:05+00:00March 8th, 2019|