PTSD and Substance Abuse

How Trauma Can Lead to Addiction

Thousands of people throughout New Jersey are struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs and many people struggle to understand why. With so many lives being ruined by the disease of addiction, you’d think that people would stay away from these potentially fatal substances. In order to combat the addiction epidemic in New Jersey, it’s important to understand why people turn to these substances in the first place. One of the primary reasons people turn to drugs and alcohol is a way to self-medicate trauma, and more people struggle with PTSD than you may think.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is a mental illness that can drastically affect a person’s life after they experience trauma. The first thing that many people don’t understand about PTSD is that trauma is very subjective. PTSD can occur after a person feels their life is in danger or after they go through something that triggers immense amounts of fear like having a loved one pass away. Some of the following are experiences that can make a person develop symptoms of PTSD:
  • Going to war
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Traumatic childhood experiences
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Being in an accident

PTSD develops because the human brain is regularly doing whatever it can to help you survive. This form of mental illness largely affects two parts of the brain: the amygdala and the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for forming memories, and the amygdala is where your fight or flight response comes from. When you experience trauma, the amygdala and hippocampus work together to remember the event to try and help you avoid it in the future. Unfortunately, this results in a person developing various triggers, and when triggered, the person experiences severe symptoms of anxiety.

PTSD and Substance Abuse

Living with PTSD can be very difficult. A person with PTSD can have regular bouts of anxiety, and in more severe cases, they may have full-blown panic attacks. These attacks of anxiety can happen when triggered by sights, sounds, smells, thoughts and much more. Because of these triggers, a person can get desperate enough to do anything to calm themselves down. Sometimes this results in turning to alcohol or drugs. Over time, as a person turns to substances as a way to manage their symptoms, they become dependent and eventually addicted to the substance.

Recovery from PTSD and Addiction

If you’ve developed an addiction as a result of self-medicating your PTSD, you’ve probably realized that it’s made life even more difficult. There is a solution. Enlightened Solutions provides addiction treatment services in New Jersey to the people of Atlantic County, Camden County, Ocean County as well as the rest of the state. The treatment process starts with detox to safely get you off of substances, and then you begin the rehabilitation process. Through our program, you’ll see that you can overcome your trauma and begin healing without alcohol or drugs. If you’re ready to recover, give us a call today at 833-233-7336.

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