Can Trauma Lead to Substance Abuse? | Nova Recovery Center

Traumatic events can leave you feeling scared and upset. Life is not the same afterward, and you may be left feeling edgy and may have flashbacks where you re-live the trauma. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD is a mental health condition that results from someone experiencing trauma that causes long-lasting, often debilitating effects.1

If you or a loved one suffers from the lingering effects of trauma, you are not alone. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 7.7 million people ages 18 and older currently have PTSD. The National Center for PTSD published a study that showed 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.2

Trauma and Addiction

When you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, problems may arise with family and friends. PTSD can cause problems with trust and communication. It may affect how you act with others, as PTSD causes many to view the world and other people as dangerous and threatening. In turn, the way your loved ones respond to you will be affected. A cycle develops that can harm your closest relationships.

Drug and alcohol abuse is another issue that can start and continue in a harmful cycle. When PTSD is left untreated, some people may turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism to numb negative and unwanted memories and feelings. Substance abuse can lead to dependency, and it’s then a short step from drinking or taking drugs into a full-blown addiction.

When you put PTSD and substance abuse together, there is great potential for serious physical and mental health consequences. It’s very difficult to break out of these cycles alone without professional therapy.

Dual Diagnosis: PTSD and Addiction

Many people begin recovery from PTSD by receiving counseling to deal with frightening memories or flashbacks. People who have trauma-related disorders alongside addictions are said to have dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis treatment center specializes in helping trauma survivors recover from substance abuse at the same time as they receive treatment for PTSD. Because both conditions are connected, they must be treated jointly in order for therapy to be effective.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you find yourself ill-equipped to deal with traumatic events and also have an addiction, dual diagnosis treatment will aid your recovery. A rehab center with trauma-based programs will work with you to understand and cope with the lasting effects of traumatic events, while also working with you to recover from substance abuse. All these issues need to be addressed simultaneously to effectively achieve and maintain sobriety.

Programs that address traumatic events while exploring underlying issues can be very effective at getting problematic symptoms under control. A combination of 12-step meetings, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and prescription medications can help you find the road to sobriety and improved mental health.

A successful recovery can be achieved when the impact of trauma in daily life is addressed, along with repairing the relationships you have with the world and the people in it. A more joyful and sober life is the result.


References: (1) Understanding the Facts: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (2) How Common is PTSD?

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