TRAUMA-PTSD: Treatment, Symptoms and General Information…

Those with issues like Trauma and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) oftentimes require special care when treatment their drug and alcohol addictions.


Research has proven over the years the necessity of treating any drug or alcohol addiction issues that simultaneously present with other mental health issues such as trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, gambling and sex to name a few.  Individuals often enter addiction treatment rehabilitation centers for their substance abuse only.  While clinicians complete bio-psycho-social assessments and get to know their clients more intimately, they will many times uncover core issues like Trauma and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which, may very well account for why he or she turned to substance abuse in the first place.

According to TIME magazine, last year, 50-66 percent of those who suffer from PTSD also battle simultaneous drug and/or alcohol addictions.  PTSD is one of the most common forms of trauma that has been identified to date.  It is a disorder affecting 8 out of 100 individuals in our society.

PTSD is generally brought on by the experience of a traumatic or life-threatening event.  When a person is in danger, the brain triggers the “fight-or-flight” response.  When the stress response continues after the danger has passed, and it is longer necessary to protect the person from harm, the sufferer may begin to struggle with PTSD.  Symptoms may occur months after the event or may not surface at all until many years later.

Substance abuse, addiction and PTSD have a complex relationship that can complicate treatment.  High levels of stress can make it more likely for a person to turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of escape.  Drugs can increase pleasure, decrease anxiety and provide a distraction from difficult emotions.  Treatment centers not only need to educate individuals about their substance use disorders, but also about trauma and PTSD if in fact identified.

While most residential addiction treatment programs (including many PHP and IOP rehabs) will begin to treat both disorders, it is absolutely critical that clients who meet the criteria for PTSD-Trauma continue to work with a mental health professional in this regard.

Symptoms of PTSD often interfere with daily life and continue for at least a month. Symptoms are classified as follows:

  • AVOIDANCE: Staying away from people, places or things that are reminders of the event
  • RE-EXPERIENCING: Flashbacks, frightening thoughts or nightmares
  • AROUSAL and REACTIVITY: Difficulties sleeping, being “on edge”, angry outbursts, or being easily startled
  • COGNITION and MOOD SYMPTOMS: Distorted feelings of guilt, negative image of self, memory issues, or loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.


PTSD changes brain chemistry in much the same way substance abuse can.  This disorders often form at the same time and feed off one another.  The same trauma that caused PTSD can also trigger a substance use disorder. Much like other mental health matters, the intertwining between drugs & alcohol and the trauma issues can run deep and often quite complex. Likewise, the treatment process for such individuals must follow suit in order to have any real hope for long-term success.

When struggling with an addiction and Trauma or PTSD, focusing on just alleviating the symptoms is not a long-term solution.  lluminate Recovery is uniquely prepared to provide the comprehensive services that will identify and address the root causes of your problems, and will empower you to achieve long-term recovery.  This unique treatment center is designed to provide trauma and PTSD rehab in a wide variety of ways based on the manner in which a person copes with unresolved PTSD and trauma.  Such mental health maladies can manifest in a variety of self-destructive ways including self-harm, overeating, or restricting to reduce negative feelings, gambling, becoming a workaholic or turning to internet addiction and so on.

There is no “normal” way to react to trauma as each person is different.  Some people try to repress or forget the event by distracting themselves with other activities.  Others may focus only on the traumatic event.  There may be a drive to remain continuously active to prevent unwanted thoughts from surfacing or one can become overwhelmed, paralyzed by intrusive thoughts they can’t get out of their mind.  Individuals who have experienced trauma and PTSD may lose the ability to feel pleasure leading to a lack of motivation to do anything.  Others may feel emotional numbness while others may, just the opposite, experience emotional over sensitivity.

The goal with treating trauma and PTSD issues is to examine the traumatic event and subsequence development of PTSD and the underlying emotional pain that fuels destructive behavior such as substance abuse, process addictions (gambling, sex, spending, etc.).  Numerous clinical tactics are employed including clinical therapy, holistic approaches, experiential modalities, and self-help programs to name a few.

Remember, treating only the presenting program of substance abuse is not sufficient when long-term recovery is the goal! The approach to treatment must address the entirety on one’s underlying mental health issues if he or she is to truly experience the freedom and joys of being recovered.


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