As the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafts through the air, it’s hard to imagine starting the day without that beloved cup of Joe. But
Many people are familiar with the correlation between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.
PTSD, which often develops as a result of trauma, can be caused by many different types of experiences
– from military combat to childhood sexual abuse to car accidents. In fact, according to the National Center for PTSD’s website, “any experience that leaves an individual feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope” could lead someone down the path toward developing PTSD.
While it is well known that traumatic experiences often lead people into addiction, what may be less clear is how survivors of such trauma use drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms or attempt at healing.
This article will discuss some common patterns among survivors of trauma who turn to substance use as a way of coping with their symptoms; how these patterns relate specifically to PTSD;
and what you can do if you’re concerned someone who loves you might be using substances as a means of self-medicating their mental health issues.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental health disorder that develops after someone experiences a traumatic event.
Traumatic events can include natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, serious accidents like car accidents or plane crashes, and even war zones.
Symptoms of PTSD can appear immediately after the trauma occurs or years later.
The symptoms associated with PTSD can be physical and emotional:
PTSD and substance abuse can create a cycle of addiction. This is because the person suffering from PTSD will use drugs or alcohol to cope with their anxiety and stress, which only causes the problem to worsen over time.
The more they use, the more they need, so they start using more often and in larger amounts.
Eventually, this results in both physical dependences on the substance itself and psychological addiction to its effects on their emotions.
The cycle goes like this:
If you’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, treatment can help. There are many different ways to approach this, including talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, and EMDR.
Psychotherapy is also a great option for treating PTSD. You may also consider joining support groups for people living with the disorder or participating in peer-to-peer counseling programs like Veterans with Vets Helping Vets.
In addition to these methods of treatment, some individuals find that their symptoms improve when they take part in activities that relieve stress (e.g., going for walks).
As a family member or friend, you want to be supportive and caring. Here are some helpful tips:
If you or a friend or family member has been diagnosed with PTSD, contact a professional as soon as possible.
They can talk to you about treatment options and help you figure out what steps to take next.
If your loved one is still in the early stages of addiction recovery, react with love rather than anger when discussing their symptoms.
Be patient and understanding—they may not even realize they’re experiencing PTSD symptoms at first!
Try asking them questions like: “How are things going?” or “Is there anything I can do to help?”
Family members should also talk regularly about how they feel in order to ensure that communication remains open between all parties involved.
This way, if anyone notices any changes in behavior patterns later on down the road (for example, an increase in aggression), it will be easier for them know how best handle those situations as well.”
It’s not just veterans who suffer from PTSD. It’s also common among people who have experienced trauma or abuse, as well as those who have seen traumatic events like natural disasters or mass shootings.
PTSD can affect anyone, but it often goes undiagnosed because of stigma against mental health issues and a lack of knowledge about how to recognize the symptoms in oneself or others.
If you found this article helpful, kindly consider leaving us a comment below, or if you think there is a topic you think we should cover next feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.