Treatment for Addiction When Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Is Present

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Treatment for Addiction and PTSDMedical experts suggest that PTSD is a chemical disorder in the brain and body. When a person experiences a traumatic event, their brain creates a large amount of endorphins as a way of coping with the stress of the situation. When the event is over, the person's body goes through an "endorphin withdrawal". This withdrawal is similar to some of the symptoms of a drug and/or alcohol withdrawal. The feelings that are brought on from the endorphin withdrawal can cause a person to use drugs or alcohol as a way of replacing their feelings with numbness.

Once a person has post-traumatic stress disorder and begins to self-medicate using cocaine, heroin, alcohol, prescription medications, or other drugs, they may feel like their symptoms decrease. The person may feel calm, happy, and may be able to sleep. Once the drugs wear off, the PTSD symptoms return, sometimes even worse than before. The person will continue to use, and eventually will build up a tolerance; meaning, they will require more of the drug to get the same effect and eventually they will develop and addiction.

Events that can lead to PTSD may include: sexual assault, death of a loved one, military combat, violent assault, natural disasters, etc.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may include: nightmares, flashbacks, mental breakdowns, angry outbursts, severe anxiety, fear, memory loss, irritability, poor concentrations, and avoidance of anything related to the event. These symptoms can strike the person at any time, especially when they are reminded of the event.

Co-occurring disorders replaces the terms dual disorder or dual diagnosis

Co-occurring disorders (COD) is the most current terminology used to describe individuals who are struggling with both substance use and mental disorders. A diagnosis of co-occurring disorders occurs when at least one disorder of each type can be established independent of the other and is not simply a cluster of symptoms resulting from the one disorder.

To learn more about addiction and co-occurring disorders please visit the pages below:

Addiction and depression/anxiety
Addiction and bipolar disorder
Addiction and mood disorders
Addiction and ADD or ADHD