Problems with Addiction with PTSD. Guest Post by William E. Weiss of Uniting Recovery.


Problems with Addiction with PTSD


Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post traumatic stress disorder is an emotionally draining mental disorder. Many people suffering from PTSD turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. PTSD is mainly associated with war veterans. The following web page seeks to define PTSD, its causes, and how it is linked with alcohol or drug abuse among war veterans.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD refers to a condition characterizing anxiety or tremendous stress after a person witnesses or experiences a traumatic event. Any psychological or physical trauma that causes a person to feel helpless may cause PTSD. Some of the main causes of this condition include:

  • Sexual or violent assault
  • Natural disasters
  • Military combat
  • Childhood abuse

The flashbacks and nightmares associated with PTSD occur because of unresolved issues in the affected person’s psyche. For example, a soldier who is taken captive in battle and cannot fight with his captors might experience flashbacks of the torture they experienced at the hands of their captors as a means of coping with unresolved fear and anger. A girl child who was sexually abused by her father might have feelings of revenge and helplessness as an adult woman.

Symptoms of PTSD

The three main categories of PTSD symptoms are as follows:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms
  • Avoidance symptoms
  • Reactivity and arousal symptoms
  • Mood and cognition symptoms

Re-experiencing symptoms include bad dreams, flashbacks and frightening thoughts. These symptoms can affect one’s daily routine. The symptoms may begin with a person’s feelings and thoughts. Objects, situations, or words that remind a person of the event are some of the triggers of re-experiencing symptoms.

Avoidance symptoms include avoiding feelings and thoughts of a traumatic event and staying away from objects, places, or events that remind one about the traumatic experience. Like re-experiencing symptoms, things that remind one about their traumatic experiences are triggers of avoidance symptoms.

Arousal and reactivity symptoms include difficulty sleeping, angry outbursts, or tension. Arousal symptoms are constant and are not triggered by events that remind a person about the traumatic event.

Cognition and mood symptoms include poor self-esteem, memory loss, feelings of blame or guilt, and losing interest of the enjoyable activities. These symptoms make one feel detached or alienated from their family or friends.

Anyone can experience any of these symptoms following a traumatic event. When the symptoms go away a couple of weeks, the condition is called acute stress disorder. When symptoms last for over a month and affect one’s functionality and are not linked to medical illness, substance abuse but only the event, the condition is called PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder is often followed by substance abuse, depression, and other anxiety conditions.


War Veterans with PTSD

The high stress that war veterans’ face in times of war and the related events, have a significant impact on their physical and mental health. A report by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs shows that:


  • At least 2 out of 10 Veterans suffering from PTSD suffer from substance abuse
  • War veterans suffering from PTSD and alcoholism are binge drinkers. Binges are mainly due to combat trauma
  • Veterans with PTSD tend to smoke more than those without the condition

How Can PTSD and Substance Use Disorder Cause Problems

If a person is suffering from PTSD and Substance Use Disorder (SUD), they are likely to suffer from other health problems like physical pain, relationship problems with friends and family or problems with functioning like maintaining a job. The use of alcohol or drugs can aggravate PTSD symptoms. For example, one may experience sleep problems, depression or even have severe avoidance symptoms like avoiding people, places, or events that remind one about their experiences.


Risk Factors

Anyone can suffer from PTSD despite their age. A report by the National Center for PTSD shows that 7 in every 100 people experience PTSD during their lifetime. PTSD affects women more than men. Furthermore, genes make some people more predisposed to PTSD compared to others. For some people, PTSD develops after a family member or friend experiences harm or danger. The untimely death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.


Treatment for PTSD

The basic treatment for people suffering from PTSD includes medications and talk therapy. Since people are affected by PTSD differently, a treatment that works for one person may not be appropriate for another. Many Florida Treatment Centers can help with PTSD as well.



The most common medication for PTSD includes antidepressants to help control symptoms such as worry, sadness, and anger. Medication may be used alongside talk therapy. There are other treatments for PTSD. For example, research shows that Prazosin can help with sleep problems especially nightmares, which are a common experience for persons with PTSD.


Talk therapy

Talk therapy is also called psychotherapy and involves talking with a health professional to deal with one’s mental illness. Psychotherapy is either done in a group or in one-on-one sessions. Talk therapy can last for up to 12 weeks or longer with a Delray Beach Rehab. Support from friends and family can be instrumental in helping a PTSD patient recover from their illness.


There are different kinds of psychotherapy for people suffering from PTSD. Some target the symptoms directly while others focus on job-related, family, or social problems. Effective talk therapy sessions involve education regarding the symptoms of PTSD, teaching skills on identifying the triggers of the symptoms, and skills on how to cope with the symptoms. One common form of talk therapy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).


CBT includes:

  • Exposure Therapy: This treatment helps patients to face and manage their fear. It slowly exposes patients to the trauma they went through in a safe manner. This mode of treatment uses writing, visiting, or imagining the place where an event took place. This session helps patients cope with their feelings.
  • Cognitive Restructuring: This treatment helps patients determine the reason for bad memories. In some cases, people envision the experience differently from the way it actually happened. Patients may feel shame or guilt about an event that they did not cause. This treatment helps patients review a traumatic event realistically.


Author William E. Weiss

Delray Beach, Florida

Dedicated to bringing awareness to substance abuse in the United States. An advocate for people finding hope and solace from drug and alcohol addiction. Owner of a blog for addiction recovery.