Warner Park Recovery Center – Woodland Hills Mental Health

How Does PTSD Affect Substance Abuse?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a serious mental health disorder that can have an immense negative impact on the life of a person. PTSD can be caused by a variety of factors and can present itself in different ways. Additionally, it is unfortunately common that those experiencing symptoms associated with PTSD often turn towards drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate, rather than seek professional help.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD is a mental health disorder caused by experiencing a significant life event, often something terrifying or traumatic. Post-traumatic stress disorder is usually defined by different symptoms that revolve around a person re-experiencing the memories of the trauma and changing their behavior or habits based around those memories.

PTSD is considered to be treatable through talk therapy options and support groups. Medication can often be used to lessen certain symptoms brought on by PTSD, such as anxiety or depression. However, there is no cure for PTSD and medication alone is not enough for a person to return to their life prior to the development of the disorder.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

There are many possible symptoms associated with PTSD, which are broken down into different categories. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, all of the following conditions must be met to receive a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

  1. An individual experiences an event that causes symptoms. This event could be experiencing violence, the threat of violence, violent images, or anything else that could cause physical or mental distress.
  2. An individual is reliving the traumatic event. This category of symptoms includes nightmares, flashbacks, uncontrollable and intrusive memories, or having an emotional or physical reaction and a reminder of the event.
  3. An individual attempts to avoid stimuli that may remind them of the traumatic event. This could include altering your daily routine to avoid an area, avoiding certain sights or sounds, or trying to avoid feelings or thoughts.
  4. An individual experiences a negative impact on their cognitive functions or mood. This could include symptoms such as failing memory, depression, suicidal thoughts, self-isolation, or difficulty feeling happy or relaxed.
  5. An individual experiences an intense reaction or arousal in their day-to-day life. This could present as violent anger, reckless behavior, inability to concentrate or focus, insomnia, or irritability.
  6. An individual has experienced these symptoms for longer than one month.
  7. An individual’s symptoms have caused negative effects in their daily life, including issues with friends and family, or at work or school.
  8. An individual’s symptoms are not caused by other factors, such as drugs or other mental illnesses.

How Do I Know If I Have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

If you fear yourself or a loved one may be suffering from a mental health or addiction disorder, our assessment tool may be of use. Although our assessments cannot replace a diagnosis from a trained medical professional, they can help determine how many symptoms a person is experiencing for any addiction or mental health disorder.

There is no reason to wait. If you have any reason to suspect you or someone around you may be dealing with a severe addiction or mental health disorder, take our assessment and reach out to us today!

Can PTSD Cause Substance Abuse?

PTSD can directly cause substance abuse, and often does for individuals who do not seek treatment for their disorder. The effects and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can be incredibly challenging and disruptive in a person’s life. Without treatment, a person can become easily overwhelmed and may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope or as a form of self-medication.

Studies have shown that nearly half of the individuals diagnosed with PTSD have also reported symptoms associated with a substance abuse disorder. Unfortunately, this is not a new trend, especially among soldiers who have developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of trauma experienced during their time at war. In the 1980s, a study showed that 3 out of every 4 Vietnam Veterans who had been diagnosed with PTSD had developed a drug or alcohol problem as well.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for PTSD

Many people struggling with PTSD may not understand the implications of its effects or be aware that they need treatment. Facing trauma and drug addiction may feel scary or bring up ideas and shame. Those who have been suffering long-term from PTSD might not realize that there is a way out, and fear, isolation, and sadness do not have to be the norm.

Dual diagnosis is often a beneficial treatment option for individuals suffering from a substance abuse issue brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder. A dual diagnosis is an approach to treatment that focuses not only on recovery and treatment of substance abuse but also on the mental health issues that often lie at the root causes of addiction. In this case, a person may be in treatment for substance abuse while therapy simultaneously works to build healthier coping strategies for PTSD symptoms that will not push a person back towards drugs or alcohol.

If you or a loved one identify with experiencing trauma, the symptoms of PTSD, or are struggling with an addiction to alcohol, other substances, or destructive behaviors, now is the time to reach out and seek help from a treatment program.

At Warner Park Recovery, we’re here to help individuals and families by providing exceptional addiction treatment options. We’re a dual diagnosis (mental health combined with substance abuse treatment) program that offers partial day, intensive outpatient, and traditional outpatient levels of care. We regularly treat patients from the Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Topanga Canyon, The Valley, and Thousand Oaks areas. If you are looking for help with addiction treatment, please give us a call to learn more about our professional services!

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