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PTSD and Substance Use Disorders

By January 15, 2022 January 28th, 2022 No Comments
Man coping with PTSD ands Substance Use Disorders

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental health condition that occurs after experiencing a life-threatening situation or highly stressful event. People who experience trauma often develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, fear, guilt, shame, and other emotions. People who suffer from PTSD often experience flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms. Depending on the individual or the trauma, these symptoms can last from a few weeks to several years or more. 

Many people may often turn to drugs or alcohol after experiencing trauma. They believe that drinking will take away the pain associated with the trauma. However, this doesn’t always happen. In fact, many times the opposite occurs. People drink because they feel bad without realizing that they’re actually making themselves worse off.

How PTSD Can Affect a Substance Use Disorder

People who suffer from PTSD are often at a greater risk of developing a pattern of substance abuse. These individuals tend to use alcohol or other drugs to self-medicate. In fact, studies show that up to 70% of people with a substantial drug or alcohol use disorder had experienced a significant traumatic event earlier in their life.

There are several ways that PTSD contributes to substance abuse.

First, people who suffer from PTSD tend to ruminate over past events. Rumination generally leads to increased stress which increases the chances of substance abuse.

Second, people who suffer from trauma are more likely to have a history of childhood maltreatment. This type of early life adversity makes them vulnerable to developing substance abuse later in life.

Third, people who suffer from post-traumatic stress are more likely to have low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate moods and emotions. Low levels of serotonin increase the likelihood of substance abuse.

Finally, people who suffer from substance abuse are more likely to have PTSD because they are engaging in risky behaviors that put them at risk of being injured or killed.

How A Substance Use Disorder Can Affect PTSD.

The problem with this is that alcohol and other drugs can actually worsen symptoms of PTSD. When someone uses alcohol or other drugs, they may think that they are coping with their trauma. But in reality, they are only making their symptoms worse. When someone drinks or takes drugs, he or she may become anxious, irritable, depressed, and angry.

There are several ways that a substance use disorder can affect PTSD.

First, the use of substances can trigger memories of trauma. When a person uses a drug or alcohol, he or she may relive the experience of the trauma (especially in substance with hallucinogenic properties). 

Second, the use of substances might interfere with the ability to regulate emotions. With compromised emotional processing, the ability for one to cope with the symptoms of PTSD is actually inhibited, making for a more difficult healing process.

Finally, the use of substances could decrease the effectiveness of therapy. If someone is actively engaged in substance use disorders, there is a significantly decreased rate of information retention in the therapeutic process.

Let Meridian Advanced Psychiatry Help!

PTSD is a mental health condition that affects people who have experienced trauma or abuse. People who suffer from PTSD often use drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms. This can lead to the development and exacerbation of durg and alcohol use disorders.

PTSD and Substance use disorders are incredibly difficult to treat one at a time. In order to effectively treat both conditions this must be done simultaneously.

At Meridian Advanced Psychiatry, our team is fully dedicated to treating our client’s holistically; taking every factor into account to ensure the highest quality treatment. Our services can help reduce the amount of alcohol or other drug use. Our staff can also help you learn ways to cope with trauma and stressful situations without turning to alcohol or other drugs. You can also learn skills to manage your emotions and improve your relationships.

Contact us or call us at (208) 515-CARE today!

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