Destination Hope Blog » Substance Abuse Problems and PTSD: How to Stop the Cycle

Substance Abuse Problems and PTSD: How to Stop the Cycle

Substance abuse problems can occur as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, a condition that occurs after a person experiences some type of traumatic event. War, terrorism, abuse, natural disasters, and assault are examples of some of the things that can contribute to PTSD. June is National PTSD Awareness Month and tomorrow we will celebrate PTSD Awareness Day.  Unfortunately, we see a significant amount of clients suffering from PTSD and substance abuse problems, a condition referred to as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis.

Who develops PTSD?

A person usually develops PTSD symptoms within three months of experiencing the traumatic event, but there are cases where it has taken months or even years to develop. Flashbacks about the event, inability to concentrate, memory problems, insomnia, anger, irritability, and self-destructive behavior are some of the symptoms of this condition.

Anyone can develop PTSD, but it is more common in females. It is also more common in people with a history of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, people who have a family history of mental health problems are more likely to develop PTSD.

Unfortunately, many people who have PTSD turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their problems. The good news is that there are a number of steps that can be put into place to prevent substance abuse problems. Here are some tips for preventing substance abuse problems in PTSD patients:

Preventing Substance Abuse Problems Triggered by PTSD

Anti-Anxiety Medications & Counseling

A combination of anti-anxiety medications and counseling can help a person cope with feelings of stress and anxiety. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol to try to cope with anxiety and depression, instead of turning to a behavioral health professionals.


Antidepressants are another group of medications that may be recommended for people who have PTSD. These medications not only improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression, but they can also help alleviate insomnia.  For many people, these medications are most effective when coupled with counseling and behavioral therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is frequently recommended for people who have PTSD. This form of therapy helps people understand how their thoughts can influence their feeling and behaviors and is effective for both mental health and substance abuse problems.

Preventing PTSD

Most people experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives. Anger, hurt, fear, depression, and guilt are normal feelings to experience after a tragic event. However, it is very important that we learn how to cope with these feelings. One of the most important things that people can do to process the negative feelings they are experiencing is to talk to someone. If they do not feel comfortable talking to a family member or friend, then they can talk to a mental health counselor.

If you or a woman you love is experiencing PTSD, substance abuse problems or addiction, a recovery program for women may be the answer.  Remember that recovery from addiction and alcohol abuse treatment means learning how to cope with intensely emotional situations, and identifying when you need help and support.  Treatment for addiction relapse, counseling, and aftercare can help you do this, so please call us today. Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a full service addiction and women’s health treatment facility in Florida for women who suffer from substance abuse and behavioral health issues.