Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction

istock 178142048 It is estimated that over 3% of Americans suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 40% of these adults have developed an alcohol use disorder to try and numb the pain. You may have heard about PTSD regarding veterans returning from combat and other stressful situations, but anyone who has had a traumatic experience can develop PTSD.

What is PTSD?

PTSD can last for a few months or the rest of a person’s life. The symptoms of PTSD can include suicidal thoughts, feelings of helplessness, depression, hallucinations, nightmares, aggression, and the urge to self-harm. To add to all of this, someone with PTSD may start to develop feelings of shame or guilt.

People who suffer with PTSD may endlessly flash back to the traumatic incident, avoid any experience that may evoke a memory of the incident, and have “hyperarousal” symptoms, that is, be extremely irritable, angry, or anxious.

What causes PTSD?

Explosive situations such as military combat, childhood trauma, natural disasters, or sexual abuse can cause PTSD. The death of a loved one, depression, health or financial problems, job loss, and stress may seem less dramatic and volatile but can nonetheless lead to PTSD as well.

Addiction and PTSD

It is no surprise that, to deal with the pain of PTSD, many sufferers turn to alcohol or drugs. One in three veterans that are getting treatment for substance abuse also have PTSD.

However, although alcohol may numb the pain temporarily, in the end it can make the symptoms of PTSD worse. It can make depression and anxiety worse, make it more difficult to sleep, and also lead to risk-taking behaviors. The dependence on alcohol or drugs grows, as the brain needs more and more to feel the numbing effects.

At Wasatch Crest, we don’t just treat addiction – we treat the issues that led to the addiction. PTSD, and the trauma that led to it, must be addressed before progress can truly be made, and this is done with therapy options that are tailored to you and your needs. If you need help with addiction or PTSD, call Wasatch Crest Treatment in Heber, Utah, at (800) 385-3507.

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