Addictive Behavior & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
When a person experiences a traumatic event, often they internalize it and then re-experience the event over and over again later in life. In effect, they are not only traumatized during the initial event but also every time something triggers a memory of the event. A traumatic event is an experience that causes physical, emotional, psychological distress or harm. It is an event that is perceived as a threat to one’s safety or to the stability of one’s world.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is an event outside of the normal human experiences. It often causes feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. It is different than that of the crisis, in that a person is not able to use coping skills, and there is nothing one can do to stop the event from happening. Examples of trauma would include natural disasters, accidents, and repeated actions like combat, sexual abuse, terrorist threats, or physical and verbal abuse.
Symptoms and Behaviors of PTSD
Some of the severe symptoms include; recurrent distressing memories or dreams of the event, illusions, hallucinations, and flashback. Behavior of intense distress, efforts to avoid feelings or conversations associated with the trauma, effort to detach from others, expression of guilty feelings and irritability or outbursts of anger are all common reactions to PTSD.
Other Symptoms Include:
Having a difficult time remembering important parts of the traumatic event.
A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities.
Feeling distant from others.
Experiencing difficulty having positive feelings such as happiness or love.
Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep.
Feeling more irritable or having outbursts of anger.
Having difficulty concentrating.
Feeling constantly “on guard” or like danger is lurking around every corner.
Being “jumpy” or easily startled.
How People are Impacted by PTSD
Probably the two most common features that impact people who experience PTSD is numbing, and fight or flight reactions. Numbing is witnessed as someone having a flat affect, and fight or flight is perceived as ‘I must fight or run away’. Both of these reactions to PTSD are either perceived as real or imagined danger and/or hopelessness. Other reactions that may develop as coping mechanisms are dissociation and addictions.
Substance Abuse and PTSD
Often times drug & alcohol addictions occur as a reaction to immense pressure of PTSD. It is also perceived as a quick solution from the painful, sometimes unacknowledged symptoms of PTSD. It is an easy way to self-medicate from the unresolved trauma and quiet the uncomfortable thoughts. The last thing a victim wants to do is remember a past traumatic event, or extreme hyper-arousal symptoms, which cause them to react to triggers. This tends to send them back into fight or flight reactions. Drugs and alcohol are often chosen to try to cover the unresolved traumatic events of the past.
Untreated PTSD can be a significant source of pain and cause serious emotional issues, which leads many of those suffering to continually self-medicate with alcohol & drugs. If you or someone you know is suffering from a substance abuse problem and are in need of professional help, contact the experts at Doig Consulting. There is a solution; call today for help, recovery is possible.
Doig Consulting Writer