A Better Today

Coping with PTSD by Abusing Drugs & Alcohol

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How Your Loved One’s PTSD Can Affect Their Growing Substance Abuse Problem

Is your loved one suffering from PTSD and abusing drugs or alcohol? Your loved one is not alone. For individuals who are suffering from PTSD, drug and alcohol addictions are unfortunately common. In fact, the 50-66 percent of those who are suffering from PTSD are also simultaneously battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

PTSD is a disorder brought on by life-threatening and traumatic events and statistics show that PTSD will affect about 7-8 out of a 100 people in their lifetime. A life-threatening event cues the fight or flight response which is the body’s natural reaction to danger or threats. The problem comes then when the body continues to go into fight or flight even though the threat has passed.

The symptoms of PTSD can be difficult to deal with and many find relief from the symptoms in drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol are only temporary solutions that cause more harm than good. If your loved one is currently caught in the vicious cycle of addiction stemming from PTSD, you can seek help for the situation today. A Better Today Recovery Services can help your loved one learn new healthier ways to deal with PTSD.

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Around 75% of women who enter drug & alcohol treatment have reported a history of sexual abuse or assault.

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About 10 to 33 percent of survivors of accidents, illnesses, and natural disasters eventually develop addiction problems.

Co-Occurring Disorders: Substance Abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Alcohol and drugs do provide some relief from the symptoms of PTSD. The relief that it provides, however, is short lived. Your loved one may be able to push back the painful memories and symptoms that are associated with his or her trauma for a little while, but eventually drugs and alcohol will wear off, and when the symptoms return, they are worse. Not to mention that drinking alcohol and using drugs can severely impact your loved one’s ability to make sound decisions.

In fact, decision-making is something that often goes out the window and this can increase your loved ones’ chances of being involved in a car accident, violent crime, or in a situation that causes them to suffer more trauma. So, to your loved one, drugs and alcohol seem like they are a good solution until he or she discovers the way that drugs and alcohol exacerbate symptoms of PTSD and further complicate its treatment.

Furthermore, it is known that abusing drugs and alcohol will delay treatment progress and make PTSD symptoms last longer. Your loved one may not be aware of the complications and damage alcohol and drug use is creating in his or her life.

The Symptoms of PTSD: Why They Should Seek Treatment

If your loved one suffers from PTSD, it is important to understand the symptoms. Understanding the symptoms can give you a better idea of why your loved one would begin to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

PTSD is characterized by many difficult symptoms and has a few different categories of ways it affects an individual. This includes behavioral symptoms like irritability, agitation, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior or social isolation. The psychological symptoms of PTSD are having flashbacks, intense fear, anxiety, or feelings of mistrust of others. PTSD can also affect your mood, resulting in a loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or loneliness. PTSD may also cause your loved one sleep troubles such as insomnia or nightmares.

Understanding how these symptoms affect someone with PTSD is important because it can help give you some compassion toward your loved one and what he or she goes through. With these difficult symptoms, it’s easy to see the need for relief. The important thing now is to seek treatment for your loved one so that he or she can learn better ways of coping with PTSD that do not include drugs and alcohol.

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The Connection Between: Anxiety Disorders & Drug Abuse

The relationship between PTSD, drug use, and addiction is complex. It is only to fair to wonder why an individual who suffers from PTSD is at a higher risk to seek relief in drugs and alcohol. The answer lies somewhere in the chemistry of the brain.

Stress lowers the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid and increases adrenaline levels. GABA is a natural body produced sedative that can also be also be increased by using drugs that suppress the central nervous system like Marijuana, Opiates, Alcohol, and Benzodiazepines. These drugs can also increase dopamine in the brain, which is a naturally produced “feel-good” chemical.

When an individual is self-medicating, what they really are trying to do is increase GABA and dopamine in his or her body. It is an attempt to de-stress and feel happier. Unfortunately, when the drugs wear out, dopamine and GABA take a plunge, which often leaves an individual feeling even more anxious, depressed, and irritable.

This plunge leads many individuals to continue to seek out their drug of choice to get back to a more comfortable mental state. This is what begins the vicious cycle of addiction.

Their Self-Medicating for PTSD Can Ruin Their Future

After your loved one abuses drugs and alcohol repeatedly, his or her brain can no longer effectively produce and regulate dopamine, GABA, and adrenaline. Withdrawal symptoms associated with repeated drug use are anxiety, depression, insomnia and frequent irritability. These symptoms can make it difficult for your loved one to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Your loved one may experience intense cravings which result in a loss of control. The longer the self-medicating with drugs and alcohol goes on, the more difficult it can get, and intervention may be required to get your loved one to stop.

Because drugs and alcohol have become your loved one’s coping mechanism, certain regions the brain will continue to be affected negatively. If your loved one is under the age of 21, his or her brain is still developing, and drug use can also cause developmental problems. The good news is that there is hope for your loved one and it starts with individualized drug and alcohol treatment that focuses on treating not only the substance abuse disorder, but PTSD too.

A Better Today Recovery Services understands that finding treatment for both disorders gives those suffering a better chance to heal, recover, and take back control that drugs have taken from them.


Get the Right Type of Treatment that Suits Your Needs


PTSD and Drug & Alcohol Addictions: Finding the Right Treatment Center That Cares

Since PTSD and Substance Abuse Disorder often exist together as co-occurring disorders, treatment plans must address and treat both disorders. If a treatment center decided to only focus on treating the substance abuse disorder, even though it is understood that your loved one’s PTSD is what lead him or her to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol in the first place, there would be a high likely hood for PTSD symptoms to persist after treatment.

A Better Today Recovery Services understands that getting to the root of your loved one’s addiction is the best course to take. We believe that it is better to leave no stone unturned. We can help you find treatment for both disorders simultaneously with proven treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Other therapies that treat co-occurring disorders are individualized therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.

Your loved one deserves a positive, therapeutic, medical and mental health care environment where he or she can heal and get on the road to long-term recovery from PTSD and substance abuse. We want to help your loved one recover and give him or her the knowledge and empowerment to move forward and take back control of his or her life.

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Reputable Unbiased Sources Matter to ABTRS

Realizing that your loved one has a drug or alcohol abuse problem is nerve-wracking. When put in that situation, people tend to feel powerless to help their addicted loved one and the only way to help them is through learning. Knowledge is power. When it comes to substance abuse treatment, the only power we have over their need for their drug is education.

Getting knowledge from reputable sources that are unbiased and proven to be effective in the scientific or psychology community is vital. A Better Today Recovery Services takes pride in offering knowledge from reliable sources that are up to date and relevant in helping you convince your loved one they need to get clean in rehab. Check out the list below to learn more about where ABTRS got their information.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons With Co-occurring Disorders. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 42. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 133992. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2005.

NIDA. (2018, July 20). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction on 2019, February 19

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US). Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2014. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 57.) Chapter 4, Screening and Assessment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207188/

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