It’s very common for people to have flashbacks, nightmares or upsetting memories after undergoing a traumatic event. However, some of them are unable to make a full recovery from their experience, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

PTSD is a serious and potentially devastating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, mass shooting, combat situation, sexual assault or a similarly life-threatening event.

Trauma’s Profound Effect on the Mind

Trauma can shatter someone’s belief that the world holds any safety or certainty. Because your mind has difficulty processing shocking life events, the resulting trauma can haunt you to the point of becoming overwhelming.

If the following symptoms of trauma have begun to interfere with your everyday life and continue for at least a month, you may receive a PTSD diagnosis.

  • Avoidance: Not wanting to be around people, places or things that remind you of the traumatic occurrence
  • Reliving the event: Having flashbacks, disturbing thoughts or bad dreams
  • Anxiety and reactivity: Difficulty sleeping, a feeling of being “on edge,” angry outbursts or startling easily
  • Cognition and mood: Feelings of guilt, negative self-esteem, memory issues or loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities

The Correlation Between PTSD and Addiction

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a link between PTSD and substance abuse disorders. As many as 66 percent of people who develop substance misuse also suffer from PTSD, and vice versa. Drugs and alcohol can become a coping mechanism, or a method of self-medication, for the symptoms of PTSD, helping survivors smooth the pain of the trauma they experienced. As the effects of the substance wear off, however, levels of stress and PTSD symptoms often become more severe. PTSD can also heighten drug withdrawal symptoms, worsening the disorder and making it more difficult to stop misusing the substance.

For people with co-occurring PTSD and addiction, it is essential to treat the two disorders simultaneously and holistically. For those with significant substance dependence, medically supervised detox is often the first step in a detailed treatment plan.

Find a New Path at Guardian Recovery Network

Guardian Recovery Network is a Florida-based system of facilities offering clinically sophisticated treatment to help people achieve lasting freedom from their substance misuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our medically proven approach is ideal for a broad spectrum of recovery needs. To begin your Guardian journey or learn more about our talented team, contact us anytime.