PTSD and Substance Abuse

rehabPost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs when someone has intense anxiety after experiencing a traumatic event. Many people with PTSD will turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope with their symptoms. In this two-part series, we’ll discuss PTSD, how it can lead to addiction and what kind of treatment would work best for someone suffering from both problems.

In part one, let’s take an in-depth look at PTSD, what causes it, and its symptoms. Need rehab? Call Legacy today for free information.

PTSD causes a person to feel stress or anxiety because of a negative event that made them feel powerless. It often occurs as a result of military combat, a violent assault, sexual assault or abuse, childhood abuse, natural disaster, car accident or other traumatic event. A person can also develop PTSD from witnessing a traumatic event.

A person with PTSD will have symptoms such as nightmares or flashbacks related to the traumatic event, anxiety, intense stress and insomnia. They may also have increased anger and be prone to aggressive outbursts and behavior. These can strike at any time, but are more likely to happen when the person is reminded of the event.

This disorder is related to the “fight or flight” response that occurs when a person thinks he or she is in danger. The body reacts with increased adrenaline, which causes their blood pressure to rise and increases the heart rate. If the response is not resolved, it can change how a person reacts to it in the future. The body may continue to produce hormones even when there is no danger. The feeling of being on edge or extremely anxious is thought to be caused by these high levels of the “flight or fight” hormones.

Researchers have scanned the brains of people with PTSD and found that the part of the brain responsible for memory, the hippocampus, is smaller. There is a theory that changes in that part of the brain prevent a person who has flashbacks or nightmares from processing them normally. The anxiety they produce doesn’t lessen over time. Part of treatment for PTSD is finding a way to process those memories so that they eventually go away altogether.

PTSD can be divided into three categories – re-experiencing the event through flashbacks, avoiding feelings and memories of the event, and heightened emotions and increased anxiety. It develops differently for each person. Some can experience one of the categories or a combination of them.

A high percentage of those suffering from PTSD will begin drinking or using drugs in order to cope. Over 50 percent of those with PTSD will develop a problem with alcohol, and over 30 percent will become dependent on drugs.

Self-medication is not surprising considering the symptoms of PTSD. Someone may begin drinking or taking a drug in order to relieve stress or sleep better, but then they become more dependent on them if their PTSD becomes worse.

In the second part of this series, we’ll take a look at how addiction can develop in those suffering from PTSD.

Holistic and Alternative Drug Rehab in Raleigh NC | Legacy Freedom

Are you struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol because of PTSD? Call us at Legacy Freedom in Raleigh. We offer customized plans that are based on your needs. We have numerous treatment options that aim to provide a holistic approach to your recovery. Call us today to speak with an admissions counselor about our programs for alcohol and drug rehab in Raleigh NC. We’re here to offer you the help you need to recover from your addiction as well as the traumatic event that may have led to your substance abuse problem.

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