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 / Therapies / Post Traumatic Stress Disorder And Addiction

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Addiction

What is PTSD?

It is normal to feel frightened during or after a traumatic event. Our body has useful reactions like the “fight or flight” response, which helps to cope with any dangerous situation. It is responsible for increased alertness and sensations to tackle any stressful event. 


Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder in which a person feels danger and fear because of a history of trauma like abuse, assault, or the death of a loved one. The fight and flight response activates (even if no danger is detected in the surroundings) in a person with PTSD. 


The patient gets flashbacks of the particular traumatic event. Sometimes only witnessing a stressful event like a disaster or accident can cause these symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Thoughts of those events trigger severe anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are divided into different categories. The patient should have these symptoms for over a month to get diagnosed with PTSD. Unfortunately, many people develop this mental illness years after the event. Following are the symptoms of PTSD.




The re-experiencing symptoms can be triggered by any object or place which reminds the person of the previous traumatic event.

  • Intrusive thoughts.

  • Flashbacks (recalling the event).

  • Nightmares. 




The person with PTSD avoids certain places or situations to avoid stress and anxiety. For example, a person who had a car accident may avoid driving afterward.

  • Avoiding thoughts of the traumatic event.

  • Stay away or avoid talking about a particular place or situation.




The person experiences severe mood distress. The cognitive symptoms include:

  • Negative thoughts.

  • Lack of interest in activities.

  • Feeling distracted from the present.

  • Distorted feelings like blame or guilt.

  • Facing memory problems.

  • Feeling hopeless about the future.

  • Feeling lost or numb emotionally. 

  • Concentration problems.




The arousal symptoms can interfere with daily routines and activities like working, eating, and sleeping.

  • Continuously feeling on edge.

  • Trouble sleeping.

  • Being startled easily.

  • Irritability and aggressiveness.

  • Overwhelming shame or guilt.


Medically Reviewed:


Rolling Hills Recovery Center

Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Risk Factors of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Some people are more prone to PTSD than others because of certain risk factors. 

  • Experienced any trauma in childhood.

  • Women are more likely to develop PTSD.

  • Exposed to intense trauma.

  • People who have other mental illnesses like anxiety or depression.

  • Having no personal or social support.

  • Feeling extreme fear or stress.

  • Witnessing a stressful event.

  • Losing a loved one accidentally.

  • History of substance abuse.

Complications of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 

PTSD can lead to other mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Sometimes people also develop eating disorders too. In addition, people with post-traumatic disorder (PTSD) are more likely to engage in substance use disorder (SUD) and get addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Treatment for PTSD

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The treatment of PTSD can include both psychotherapy and medications. These treatments can be given separately or in combination to treat the symptoms and encourage positive thinking in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder.




Talk therapy is one of the most effective types of psychotherapy in treating patients with PTSD. The therapist teaches the patient coping strategies, manages the intrusive thoughts, and helps them focus on their present life. There are three widely used therapy techniques practiced by therapists in treating post-traumatic stress disorder patients.

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT):


This therapy includes thinking positively and changing the thoughts and feelings about certain stressful events.

  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy: 


Prolonged exposure teaches the sufferer to gradually think about the stressful scenario that bothers the person and minimize the avoidance symptoms.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):


EMDR helps you process and make sense of your trauma while paying attention to a back-and-forth movement or sound (like a finger waving side to side, a light, or a tone).



The medicines used to treat other mental health conditions like depression or anxiety can significantly treat post-traumatic stress disorder patients. Although Benzodiazepines do not treat PTSD but reduce and manage the symptoms like anxiousness and sleep problems. These medicines can cause some severe side effects afterward.

Prevention of PTSD

Many people develop fear and other frightening symptoms after surviving a traumatic event. They may experience flashbacks and even nightmares of the situation. Feeling of anger, fear, guilt, and blame are clear signs of having post-traumatic stress syndrome. On the other hand, most people don’t develop any PTSD symptoms.


If you are having any of the symptoms, ask for help immediately. Talking to someone can help manage and recover from trauma symptoms. Accept your feelings and sensations and try to overcome them gradually. Share your emotions and fears with your loved ones or family and discuss that event. Instead of avoiding it, practice mindfulness and positive thinking to overcome guilt and sadness. Stay connected with your family and friends and spend some time doing creative activities like walking and aerobic exercises.

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is more likely to develop in women and people with low self-esteem or suffering from any mental illness. Many types of research are being conducted to evaluate the risk factors for the early prevention of PTSD. Medications help reduce the symptoms but maintaining a healthy routine and lifestyle modification work best for long-term recovery. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides mental support to reason and changes the thoughts of fear, aggressiveness, and lack of motivation to accept, cope, and personalize. CBT is also an effective treatment for substance abuse like drugs or alcohol, which can be a powerful trigger of anxiety or depression in patients with PTSD.

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What is PTSD?
Signs and symptoms of PTSD
Risk factors of post traumatic stress disorder
Complications factors of post traumatic stress disorder
Treatment for PTSD
Prevention of PTSD
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