PTSD & Drug Use: The Challenges of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms & Substance Use Disorders



Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD is a psychiatric condition in which the person suffering has either experienced or witnessed a terrifying or traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident such as a car crash, combat in war, rape, or some other type of violent personal assault. The symptoms of PTSD are often grouped into four categories: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking or mood, and changes in physical or emotional reactions.

It is estimated that one in eleven people will be diagnosed with PTSD at one point in their lives. Though, this may be true, there are certain jobs within the community that put people at a higher risk to experience a traumatic event. People in the military, both men and women, people on the police force, first responders such as fire fighters, border patrol agents and people in the healthcare industry all have jobs that are more likely to expose them to traumatic experiences that can affect mental health.

There has long been a link between drug use and PTSD, as sufferers likely turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope with the devastating symptoms they experience because of the traumatic events they have gone through. For instance, people who suffer from PTSD are 14 times more likely to develop substance use problems of some kind. Research also has found that people with PTSD are much more likely to abuse alcohol over other illicit drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine.

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