The adverse effects of combining Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse - Sovereign Health Group
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the adverse effects of combining post traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse

Because post traumatic stress disorder (PTS)  is so jarring, some with this condition may often seek relief in various forms. Unfortunately, this may mean certain individuals turn to substance abuse, which can conversely worsen symptoms of PTSD. Research has shown that more than half of individuals with PTSD also experience alcohol dependence, while about one third also face dependence on drugs.

After a individual experiences a traumatic event, his or her body will produce endorphins as a first wave defense. These neurotransmitters are produced in the brain, helping to both hinder pain and allow for a greater sense of well being.  The individual will then experience a period of withdrawal from these neurotransmitters. These are some of the same symptoms experienced as a result of substance abuse. Many may turn to substance abuse as a means of replacing the high felt during the rush of endorphins or to cope with the stresses caused by the trauma. However, this also means that most of them will now be experiencing all the downfalls associated with substance dependence.


When one chooses to find relief in substance abuse, they will risk increasing the severity of the symptoms of PTSD.

One example is this is that those who abuse hallucinogens may have disturbing flashbacks to the traumatic event itself. In contrast, many may choose to use a more socially accepted substance, such as alcohol. However, because alcohol is a depressant itself, it may increase the likelihood of depression or anxiety. Excessive alcohol intake may cause violent tendencies in some drinkers while also increasing the risks associated with driving under the influence.

PTSD and substance abuse constitute a dual diagnosis and their effects may be devastating in terms of legal trouble, employment difficulties and more.


One solution to these difficulties is practicing abstinence from alcohol and drug abuse. However, long term dependence or other factors may make this a more challenging process. It is clear that temptation is already present for many individuals with PTSD, as they seek to escape or block out their personal trauma even though drug dependence has been shown to worsen the effects of this condition. Social isolation and lack of proper emotion may result, as well as a number of other personal problems.

Of course, if a patient chooses to seek dual diagnosis treatment, then they can begin recovery from substance abuse as well as the underlying causes of their PTSD. This may include both medication and talk therapy to restore well being. The sooner a patient stops using controlled substances and seeks treatment, the sooner they can begin their recovery from the suffering associated with PTSD.

Sovereign Health Group provides help for individuals dealing with mental health disorders, addiction or a combination of both called dual diagnosis. For further information on dual diagnosis and customized treatment for PTSD and substance abuse you can call (866) 819-0427.

Written by Sovereign Health Group writer, Ryan McMaster

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