What Is PTSD and How Can it Fuel an Addiction?

Co-occurring mental health conditions are often diagnosed in people who develop addictions. PTSD is caused by experiencing a traumatic event that your mind and body aren’t prepared to handle. While people often associate PTSD with veterans who return from combat, you can also develop the condition after experiencing events such as a serious car accident or domestic violence.

In recent years, it is has also been found that some people experience PTSD from childhood abuse and other types of long-term trauma. Exploring what is PTSD and how it can fuel an addiction helps you start to understand how co-existing mental health conditions impact each other.

How Do You Know If You Have PTSD?

A professional in mental health care will need to diagnose you with PTSD. However, you might suspect that you have it if you’ve ever experienced trauma that feels like it keeps coming back.

Someone with PTSD might experience these signs and symptoms that can help you start to identify whether you need to seek a mental health assessment.

  • feeling easily angered or irritated
  • finding it hard to just relax
  • having insomnia
  • experiencing nightmares or flashbacks
  • feeling numb or having a lack of interest in doing common activities

A mental health assessment involves working with a counselor or professional to identify whether you are experiencing the long-term effects of trauma on your life. During the assessment, they may also check for other common mental health conditions that include depression, anxiety and addiction. For many people, receiving a diagnosis is freeing because it finally puts a name to all of the symptoms they’ve been experiencing.

What Are the Signs of PTSD-Related Addiction?

Addiction and PTSD tend to go hand in hand because people will often turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their symptoms. If you’ve ever had a drink or used drugs to help numb your emotional pain, then you could be at a high risk for an addiction. People who have PTSD-related addiction tend to have similar symptoms as those who use drugs or alcohol for other reasons. You might find that you can’t stop drinking once you start.

Or, you might be willing to risk your finances or personal relationships just to score some drugs. Eventually, addiction may also take a physical toll on your body. Nausea, vomiting and tremors are all common symptoms of drug addiction that might also seem like they are part of your symptoms of PTSD. At times, it might be hard to tell if you are experiencing PTSD-related anxiety or withdrawal symptoms. Either way, the best option for helping yourself to feel better again is to seek professional mental health care that treats both conditions.

How Do You Recover From Both Mental Health Conditions?

At first, it might seem like trying to recover from more than one mental health condition is twice the work. Yet, don’t let this make you feel so overwhelmed that you put off getting help. Fortunately, many of the same strategies that you use to manage PTSD also work for addiction.

Some people might need to use medication to manage their PTSD, but you’ll also learn techniques through therapy that help both conditions. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy can help you to learn how to think your way through a craving or flashback so that you feel stronger mentally and emotionally. Treating PTSD can also help you to minimize triggers that cause you to crave drugs or alcohol. When you sleep better at night, you’ll be less likely to try to use drugs to avoid dealing with nightmares.

You’ll also be more in control of your life, which helps you to make progress. Whether you want to establish a solid career or improve your relationships, you’ll be able to meet those goals when you’re sober and managing your PTSD. Do you suspect that PTSD might be fueling your addiction? If so, we know just how to help. Give us a call today at 772-266-5320 to get help with both mental health conditions.

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