PTSD and Addiction: Trying to Numb the Pain

June is PTSD Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to take a closer look at this painful mental illness that affects millions of Americans. And while unprocessed trauma can be emotionally crippling, things get even worse when the person also abuses alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.

Co-occurring PTSD and Substance Use Disorder co-occur far more often than you might think. For example, did you know that about 50% of rehab clients battle PTSD, compared to just 8% of the general population?

Most often, the trauma precedes the substance use. It can be caused by anything that makes a person feel threatened or unsafe. Examples:

  • Child abuse
  • Illness or injury
  • Serious accidents
  • Criminal or sexual assault
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Natural disasters
  • Exposure to war or combat
  • Unexpected death of a loved one

It is important to understand that someone can be traumatized by something that they have personally experienced OR witnessed. Depending on the specific event and on genetic disposition, up to 1 in 5 trauma victims will develop PTSD.

Is PTSD Affecting Your Substance Use?

If you are drinking or using drugs to deal with distressing memories and feelings involving some past trauma, you run the risk of addiction, new trauma, and a self-perpetuating cycle of emotional pain. The best way to break free and live the life you deserve is through specialized professional help with providers who can address both your mental illness and your substance use.

Lasting Recovery is recognized as one of the top rehab programs in San Diego and certified by CARF International. By offering treatment programs for both SUD and mental illness, Lasting Recovery is uniquely qualified to help anyone struggling with a difficult dual diagnosis. With an approach that is evidence-based and wellness-focused, we support your safe and successful return to sobriety and emotional health.

For more information, contact Lasting Recovery TODAY.

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Claire Babbitt, LMFT


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