When a person experiences a traumatic event it can leave them feeling afraid and upset. Little things can subconsciously trigger emotional reactions or flashbacks from past trauma. This condition is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An individual diagnosed with PTSD is managing a mental health condition resulting from some form of trauma that has ongoing, sometimes debilitating effects.
Understanding Trauma and Addiction
Research has shown that there is a strong relationship between trauma and substance abuse issues. Many people that have been exposed to traumatic events like child abuse, war or other disasters, or who have been a victim of a crime will often use alcohol or drugs to help deal with the emotional pain or to block bad memories. Sometimes people will use alcohol and drugs as a sleep aid or to numb feelings of guilt, anxiety, shame, or fear.
These individuals often find themselves in a never-ending cycle of trauma, since the alcohol and drugs used to cover up past pain often creates more problems that lead to more substance abuse, and so on. Trauma-related substance abuse is not only difficult for the person suffering from the condition but is also challenging for loved ones on the other end of the relationship.
Who can be Affected by Psychological Trauma?
Anyone can suffer from psychological trauma regardless of age, race, gender, or any other factors. However, those who come from more stable home environments or who have strong support systems tend to better process traumatic events when they occur.
Childhood trauma can cause PTSD to develop in a person later on in life, or may cause other forms of depression and substance abuse issues. On the other hand, not everyone who has experienced a traumatic event will necessarily develop PTSD or some other psychological condition. How a person processes trauma is really dependent on the individual.
A group of friends who suffer from drug addiction can impact the likelihood that a person will engage in these behaviors. This is because peer groups can be extremely influential, especially for a person who is already suffering from low self-esteem and is looking to fit in.
What are Substance Use Issues?
Substance use problems refer to the consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs like cocaine, or the abuse of prescribed medications. A person with a substance use disorder can be placed in one of two categories: substance dependence or substance abuse.
Substance dependence is looked at more seriously than substance abuse. People with substance dependence usually take drugs in higher doses because their bodies have become tolerant to the effects. They also suffer withdrawal symptoms from long-term use of the drug in large amounts. Most of their time is spent trying to get more of the drug, even at the expense of personal and professional relationships. No matter how hard they try, they have difficulty stopping the use of the drug and will continue to use even though they know the substance is harmful to their overall health.
Substance abuse typically occurs after substance use has (1) caused major issues with personal and professional relationships; (2) resulted in being high or intoxicated in unsafe situations (like driving under the influence); (3) caused run-ins with law enforcement; (4) continued to occur even though it causes issues with family members.
While using alcohol or drugs may create a temporary distraction from issues related to trauma, the relief is only short-lived. However, the harmful effects on your body can be long-term. Furthermore, substance abuse dramatically reduces a person’s productivity both at work and in their normal daily routine. It can also take a toll on your emotional state, causing you to feel angry, depressed, and can isolate you from personal relationships and keep you from doing the things you used to enjoy.
Other Health Problems Related to Traumatic Stress
A person who is experiencing issues with both traumatic stress and drug abuse will often suffer from one or more serious physical or psychological issues. These conditions can include anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or phobias. Sometimes people may suffer other addictive behaviors like alcohol abuse.
Traumatized people are also subject to experiencing physical health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and liver ailments. There are even cases where people suffer from chronic physical pain normally seen in physical injuries, although there is no physical reason for the illness.
Treating drug addiction and conditions related to psychological trauma can be extremely difficult. That’s why multiple approaches are often used to tackle both issues. Usually, treatment includes both medication and some form of psychotherapy. Medication is used to help individuals manage symptoms such as panic attacks or depression. However, medicine can also be useful in treating drug addiction and is prescribed and managed by a physician based on the type of substance a person is addicted to.
A rehabilitation center like Restore Health and Wellness Center works with individuals to help them understand and manage the emotions they experience surrounding a traumatic event. At the same time, the recovery center has the appropriate tools to treat the addiction and assist you in your recovery.
When seeking treatment, it is best to work with a skilled professional with experience in treating both substance abuse problems and conditions related to traumatic stress. During your initial consultation, you will meet with a mental health professional who will ask you questions that give greater insight into your past history and current substance abuse concerns.
Your treatment plan will help you understand the possible effects of continued drug abuse including anxiety, depression, sleep issues, and loss of personal relationships. Your overall treatment plan will also help you develop coping skills to manage past traumas. You will receive education, therapy, and support to appropriately address your specific needs.
Seeking Help from Restore Health and Wellness Center
There is hope available for those who have experienced serious psychological trauma. It is important to understand that although your drug addiction may seem like an immediate solution to your problem, it only worsens your trauma.
It is critical to seek out healthy approaches to address your illness. The sooner you begin treatment, the sooner you’ll be on your way to a new, healthy life in recovery.