Recognizing PTSD and Addiction

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Recognizing PTSD and Addiction

Recognizing the signs of addiction can be difficult for someone who doesn’t know what to look for. PTSD and addiction are known to affect how the brain functions, including motivation and memory. A person with addiction will crave certain substances and develop dangerous behaviors.

Most patients who suffer from PTSD will turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their pain and emotions. This makes them feel that they have some control over their own life. That’s why PTSD and substance abuse tend to co-exist, leading to more serious psychiatric and addiction problems. Recognizing these types of issues is the first step to recovery.

According to the most recent PTSD and alcohol abuse statistics, around 50% of people who rely on substance use also show signs of PTSD.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental condition where a person experiences anxiety and stress after going through a traumatic event. May it be psychological or physical trauma, any event that leaves an individual feeling helpless and unable to control the situation will lead PTSD.

The most common causes of PTSD include:

  • Military experience
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Childhood abuse

PTSD can also cause the individual to experience flashbacks and nightmares that remind them of the traumatic experience. This means that the person never really processed the event and never fully recovered from it. A soldier who has witnessed many deaths and wasn’t able to fight and save his comrades may have flashbacks of the battlefield and gunshots. An adult who has experienced abuse as a child, may experience constant feelings of helplessness and an urge to take revenge.

According to the National Center of PTSD, the most common cause of PTSD and addiction among women is sexual abuse, and military combat among men.

Symptoms of PTSD 

Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD can be recognized as the following:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Avoidance
  • Anxiety

These symptoms can come at any individual time and will lead to serious panic attacks and depression. Those people who show symptoms of PTSD and substance abuse may experience other types of mental disorders such as depression and chronic pain.


Addiction can sometimes be directly connected to substance abuse. It is when an individual has no control over their behavior when using a particular substance. This will cause them to depend on the substance at the cost of their physical and mental health.

A person can be addicted to one or more of the following substances:

  • Illicit Drugs
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Inhalants

Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction can sometimes be hard to recognize, here are some of its most common symptoms :

  • Inability to control their own behavior and stay away from the substance they are consuming
  • Isolation, ignoring relationships, and abandoning commitments
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as needing higher doses for greater effect

All of these symptoms can co-exist and may be experienced by one individual.

Recognizing Early Signs of PTSD and Addiction

In the early stages of PTSD and addiction, an individual may not show any signs of the condition. Here are some of the early signs you can look out for:

  • Losing control of their behavior without showing any remorse
  • Seeking out situations where the substance they are using are present
  • Experimentation

Although these signs may be a clear indication that the person is going through addiction, some people may be exhibiting these symptoms because they are going through an experimental phase or are simply stressed.

Changes in Personality 

People going through PTSD and addiction may experience irregularities and changes in their personality. Some of the changes may include   disinterest in their hobbies, disregard for their relationships or even hurting the people closest to them, irresponsibility, increased secrecy and lying too much about the amount of substance they use, and showing little to no remorse for their actions.

These changes in their personality will increase over time. That’s why it is important to guide and surround them with positivity and encourage their old habits. This will help them get back to when they were sober, and remember how it feels to live life.

Changes in Health   

Aside from the drastic changes in the patients’ personality, PTSD and substance abuse can also be recognized through their health condition. May it be addiction to drug or alcohol, any individual’s health will surely decline once they are addicted to any substance. Some of the clear cut signs that a person is experiencing PTSD or addiction include frequent illness, bloodshot eyes, evident weight loss, hair loss and weak nails, and memory loss.

If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is time to seek professional help for PTSD and substance abuse treatment. The earlier you seek help, the quicker your loved one will get better. Haven House Recovery Center, a recovery center near Clarksville, provides special treatment to help PTSD and substance abuse patients get back the life they once lived. Here’s your chance to give your loved one the happy and hopeful life they deserve. Call us now.

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