PTSD and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Emotional and psychological trauma results from a distressing event that undermines a person’s sense of security. Traumatic experiences often involve a direct threat to safety, but trauma can occur from any experience that leaves someone feeling overwhelmed.
While fear and anxiety are common after experiencing a traumatic event, some people have chronic trauma- and stress-related symptoms for extended periods. This can develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which increases the risk of substance use disorders (SUD).[1]

WRITTEN Review by:

Amanda Stevens, BS

On: Dec 12, 2023
Medical Review by:

Dr. Po Chang Hsu MD, MS

On: May 12, 2024
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    Common Symptoms of PTSD

    PTSD develops when a person has experienced or witnessed a scary, shocking, or dangerous event.[2] These events can involve a situation with threats to life or limb, such as combat, natural disasters, or sexual assault, but they’re not limited to these extreme examples.

    Symptoms of PTSD may last for months, years, or even a lifetime and include:

    • Flashbacks or feeling like the event is happening all over again
    • Feeling alone or detached from others
    • Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
    • Trouble sleeping or nightmares
    • Having angry outbursts or other extreme reactions
    • Feeling guilt, worry, or sadness
    • Trouble concentrating or staying focused
    • Frightening thoughts
    • Physical pain, such as stomach aches or headaches
    • Avoidance of memories or feelings about the traumatic events
    • Difficulty remembering things
    • Negative beliefs about themselves or others
    • Irritability
    • Hypervigilance
    • Startling easily[3]

    PTSD Statistics

    Trauma can be used to describe a variety of stressful experiences that can leave someone with feelings of fear and distress, but not all stressful events are the type of trauma that can lead to PTSD. Typically, PTSD arises when people experience events that make them believe their own lives or the lives of others are in grave danger.[4]

    Both men and women can experience trauma and may develop PTSD, but the types of traumatic events differ. It’s more common for women to experience sexual assault, while men more often experience physical assault, accidents, combat, or secondhand trauma watching someone die or become injured.[5]

    According to the National Center for PTSD, most people who experience a traumatic event will not experience PTSD.[6] About six in every 100 people – or 6% of the population – will have PTSD at some point in their lives.[7] Many people who have PTSD will recover and no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD with treatment.

    About 5 out of every 100 adults in the US have PTSD in any given year.[8] In 2020, this equated to about 13 million Americans. Women are also more likely to develop PTSD than men, at about 8% and 4%, respectively.[9] This is partly due to the prevalence of different types of trauma each gender experiences rather than inherent differences between genders.

    Veterans are also more likely to have PTSD than civilians, and among them, veterans deployed to active war zones where they see direct combat are more likely to have PTSD than those who did not deploy.[10]

    PTSD and Addiction

    PTSD and Addiction

    Addiction is commonly connected to co-occurring disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. People diagnosed with PTSD are three times more likely to misuse substances.[11] People seeking treatment for PTSD are also 14 times more likely to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder.[12]

    PTSD can cause significant distress, leading people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to relax, escape reality, or avoid unpleasant thoughts and emotions. People with PTSD are more likely to misuse alcohol and drugs than those without PTSD.[13]

    Cost of Dual Diagnosis Treatment for PTSD

    The cost of dual diagnosis treatment for PTSD can vary based on location, level of care, and the specifics of your treatment plan. Fortunately, dual diagnosis treatment is often covered by health insurance providers. Contact us to learn more about your insurance options.

    PTSD and Substance Abuse Dual Diagnosis Treatment

    PTSD and Substance Abuse Dual Diagnosis Treatment in CT

    Addiction and PTSD are common occurrences, but treatment can be effective with dual diagnosis treatment. This involves treating PTSD and substance abuse concurrently, rather than sequentially, for more comprehensive care.

    Dual-diagnosis treatment for PTSD and drug addiction or alcohol addiction can take place in an inpatient or outpatient facility and may include medical detox to manage withdrawal symptoms. Though the settings differ, some of the evidence-based interventions for PTSD and substance use disorder may include:

    Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a structured, goal-oriented psychotherapy that reduces symptoms of PTSD, addiction, and other conditions by identifying and changing unhelpful thought patterns contributing to unwanted behaviors.

    Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a mindfulness-based therapy that fosters self-awareness to improve the emotional state and replace negative behaviors with positive ones for PTSD, substance abuse, and other conditions.

    Support groups that bring together people with similar challenges to share and offer support and guidance to each other.

    Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves the use of medications along with psychological interventions to reduce the severity of anxiety and fear memories.[14]

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    Frequently Asked Questions about PTSD/Trauma

    Can Drugs Make PTSD Worse? Chevron Down
    When Does Trauma Become PTSD? Chevron Down
    What Are the Most Common Traumatic Causes of PTSD? Chevron Down