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What is PTSD and How Does it Affect Addiction?

A soldier works with his therapist to treat PTSD.

Seven out 10 American adults have experienced trauma in some form or another in their lives. As many as 20% of those adults may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can occur after a number of near-fatal events including combat experience, automotive accidents, sudden emotional loss, sexual assault and more. Even witnessing one of these events can be enough to develop PTSD. It’s natural to experience troubling memories for days, weeks or even a few months. However, if those intense negative feelings continue beyond that period, you could be suffering from PTSD.

What are Common Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder often fall into four major categories:

  • Reliving the event. These aren’t just vivid memories. People suffering from PTSD often describe the feeling as actually experiencing everything about that horrible moment again.
  • Avoiding things that remind you of the trauma. After the event, victims may engage in what is commonly called “defensive living.” They avoid people, places or things that are potential triggers or reminders of the painful trauma to a degree that becomes unhealthy or unsustainable for a normal life.
  • Intense energy or anxiety level swings. People experiencing PTSD may feel incredibly jittery, anxious or alert. They can have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Sudden outbursts of anger or reckless behavior might occur regularly.
  • Increasingly negative feelings and beliefs. PTSD sufferers may express highly pessimistic views or feelings. They may seem unable to enjoy things that once brought them happiness. Feelings of guilt, shame or fear of the world around them can dominate their thoughts.

Who is Susceptible to PTSD?

Before PTSD was recognized as an actual disorder, those afflicted with it often suffered on multiple fronts. In particular, soldiers with PTSD were generally regarded as weak by their peers. They might face ridicule or reassignment. Because the public didn’t understand the disorder, society feared those with the diagnosis. Time and education have changed that somewhat. More and more people realize that PTSD is not a sign of weakness or personal failure. Anyone is capable of developing the disorder, but some potential factors that may increase or decrease the possibility are:

  • Lengthier, more severe traumatic events
  • Bodily injury
  • Physical altercations like combat and sexual assault
  • Previous trauma
  • Age
  • What happens immediately following the event
  • Social support

Additionally, women are statistically more likely to develop PTSD than men. The increased probability of sexual assault is one possible factor here, and many women are more likely than men to condemn or blame themselves in the aftermath of a traumatic event.

PTSD and Addiction

Many people who develop PTSD gravitate towards unhealthy coping mechanisms. Drugs offer quick bursts of dopamine and adrenaline that dull the pain, anxiety and other negative feelings that someone with PTSD has come to associate with everyday life. Because PTSD and most drug withdrawals involve a number of the same pains and struggles, the person becomes lost in a cycle of chasing the highs and avoiding the lows. When multiple conditions like drug addiction and PTSD are involved, it’s referred to as co-occurring disorders. Treating one while neglecting the other often results in relapse. That’s why it’s vital to get simultaneous treatment for both issues.


If You Need Help with PTSD and Drug Rehab Near Palmdale, CA, Call Cycles of Change

At Cycles of Change, our licensed, dedicated and compassionate staff offers the highest level of care. Our counselors have been specially trained to help with PTSD and are certified for Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). You will have access to a range of treatments that address both substance abuse and mental health issues. We are here to help you recover at your own pace, and we are committed to your long-term health and wellbeing. Your personalized treatment plan can help you understand the links between these issues and give you the tools you need to make a recovery. You don’t have to struggle with PTSD and drug addiction alone. Contact Cycles of Change today.


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