I was in a black hole and there was no way out for me. I was experiencing hourly flashbacks and hallucinations, and I could not grasp at reality at all. Reliving my horrors made my anxiety worse and worse, and I often thought about suicide. – Claire
Someone suffering from PTSD often relives an isolated event, or series of traumatic events through hallucinations, flashbacks, and nightmares.
PTSD is a kind of anxiety disorder that is caused by these stressful, and scary events in an individual’s life.
Someone with post-traumatic stress disorder will also have problems sleeping, focusing, and will find themselves feeling very irritable.
As with many mental health issues, many individuals will attempt to self-medicate by turning to drugs and alcohol.
If you are struggling with addiction alongside PTSD, our team at the Executive Rehab Guide are here to help.
We talk to people struggling every day and we help them find the support they need.
Call 0808 1150 446 today.
See Severe PTSD
What’s the relationship between PTSD and addiction?
When faced with having to relive traumatic experiences, 75% of people with PTSD are also alcohol and drug users. (Choose Help UK)
Many turn to alcohol, drugs, or smoking to experience temporary feelings of happiness or numbness.
Over time, as your tolerance levels increase, so does the intake of your chosen substance. Read more.
This feeling of relief that you may feel is only very temporary, and the symptoms of your mental illness will come back even stronger as you become sober again.
This is why those struggling with dual diagnosis are stuck in a rut – they think that drugs and alcohol will relieve the pain, when it only makes it worse.
Read more about Addiction and PTSD. Download the PDF.
What causes post-traumatic stress disorder?
The situations or events which have led to PTSD in an individual vary greatly depending on that person’s own experiences.
- Road accidents or serious injury
- Experiences of violence such as child abuse, sexual abuse, or violent personal assaults
- Serious health issues, either emerging or pre-existing
- Traumatic experiences of childbirth
- Past traumatic experiences
- War and conflict
1/3 of those who have experienced a traumatic event in their lives suffer with PTSD. (NHS UK)
PTSD is incredibly common but is also very treatable. Recovery is possible.
If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD and addiction, then it is vital to seek medical and professional support.
Call us today on 0808 1150 446 for confidential and compassionate advice on where and how to get the help you need.
Though it is not entirely clear why some develop PTSD and others don’t, there are certain elements that make individuals more prone to anxiety disorders.
The vicious cycle of depression, anxiety, PTSD and addiction
Mental health is a very loaded term, and often, individuals suffer from more than one mental illness.
Individuals who have or have previously had anxiety or depression are more prone to developing post-traumatic stress disorder after a, particularly traumatising event.
Some psychologists also theorise that PTSD has a genetic element to it.
For example, having a parent or close relative with a history of mental health issues increases a person’s susceptibility to developing a mental health problem.
Those with PTSD often suffer from dual diagnosis, which means but they are suffering from at least one other mental illness as well as addiction.
But why does PTSD develop? and why do so many people use alcohol, drugs, or smoking as a coping mechanism for their symptoms?
Like all other mental illnesses, PTSD manifests itself in both psychological and physical symptoms.
Following a traumatic event, the body develops an instinctive mechanism which is intended to help you survive further traumatic events.
In this case, the body goes into ‘survival mode’, which is said to be one of the main causes of PTSD symptoms.
- Flashbacks are psychologically intended as a way of reliving the experience so that you know what to do next time and you will be better prepared if it happens again.
- Hyperarousal is the body’s way of developing your reaction time so that you are able to act quickly should another trauma happen to you.
While the body causes these symptoms in order to try to survive, in practice, they are not very helpful as they force the individual to relive the experience.
This does not help them to process the emotions of the event itself, or to move on from that particular experience.
Hormones are running high in a person with PTSD
Due to flashbacks and hyperarousal, those suffering from PTSD struggle with abnormally high levels of stress hormones.
When in danger, the body creates stress hormones to trigger a quick reaction – either to fight or fly.
This ‘fight or flight’ hormone is produced in high amounts in people with PTSD, even when there is no danger present.
What are the symptoms of Complex PTSD?
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition where you experience all of the above symptoms as well as the following:
- Uncontrollable feelings and emotions
- Feeling angry and a lack of trust towards society and the world around you
- Prevalent and prominent feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
- Thinking that nobody understands your situation and what happened to you
- Finding friendships and relationships very difficult
- Dissociative symptoms such as depersonalisation or derealisation
- Headaches and migraines
- Dizziness and disorientation
- Stomach cramps and nausea
- Suicidal thoughts
The danger of suicidal thoughts
One of the most dangerous side effects of PTSD is suicidal thoughts.
Abusing alcohol and drugs will only make these worse. Without seeking help, your PTSD and addiction could be fatal.
It is vital to get the help you need now.
You may feel that the world is against you but trust us when we say that there are so many people out there who want to help you recover.
Our team of addiction specialists are dedicated to providing sympathetic and confidential support and advice.
Call us today on 0808 1150 446.
For more information:
- Signs of severe anxiety
- Treatments for dual diagnosis
- My story of survival: Battling PTSD
- How can you help an addict?
Last Updated on July 29, 2021 by Alison