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The Link Between Drug Abuse and PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that can develop after you experience a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, natural disaster, car accident, or any situation in which you feel afraid for your life or the lives of others. Whether you’re directly involved in the event that triggers PTSD or a witness to it, the consequences are often the same.

PTSD can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and depression, as well as nightmares and flashbacks to that traumatic moment. Trying to cope with the symptoms of PTSD and other mental health disorders that might stem from symptoms can be challenging. Due to this, many people turn to using drugs.

What Is the Link Between Drug Use and PTSD?

Studies have shown that substance abuse is common among those who have PTSD. There are a few ways that drug use can impact PTSD-related symptoms. First, if you use substances like alcohol or opioids to self-medicate, you might notice that your symptoms are less severe than usual. However, drugs have a significant downside that is often overlooked. Additionally, certain types of drugs can cause symptoms similar to PTSD.

If you experience flashbacks while using hallucinogenic substances like LSD, you may believe that you are being re-traumatized. Cocaine and amphetamine use can cause anxiety, panic attacks, and feelings of paranoia. In other words, drug use can cause additional symptoms of PTSD, leading to a more complicated mental health situation.

Additional Symptoms of PTSD Caused by Drug Use

Many symptoms can co-occur with substance abuse and PTSD, including increased anxiety and depression and a lack of interest in activities. Substance abuse and PTSD can also have the following in common:

  • Flashbacks: If you’re experiencing flashbacks while using drugs, they could be significantly more intense. You may believe that you are actually in a traumatic situation again.
  • Nightmares: Nightmares are very common among people with PTSD. However, if you have been using drugs and experiencing nightmares, they may be especially vivid and disturbing.

How You Can End the Cycle of Drug Use and PTSD

If you have a mental health disorder like PTSD and are also struggling with drug use, it can be difficult to know where to start. First, you can get an accurate diagnosis for both disorders. Some people who have PTSD also have a co-occurring mental health condition, like anxiety or depression. Others may have substance use disorder (SUD) in addition to PTSD.

Whether or not you have both disorders, it is important to get accurate diagnoses to create the most efficient treatment plan. Next, you can find all the help you need at a recovery center like The Guest House. We provide various treatment options for PTSD, including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), somatic therapy, and many others. Similarly, there are various treatment options for drug use, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT), individual therapy, group therapy, and more.

Primary care providers frequently recommend exercise, relaxation techniques, and other stress management tools for those with PTSD. However, studies have shown that people with PTSD tend to abuse substances in an attempt to self-medicate. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD and are also struggling with drug use, you don’t have to suffer or self-medicate any longer. The Guest House has numerous treatment plans and approaches to help you recover from both PTSD and substance abuse. Call (855) 483-7800 for more information.