Does Everyone Who Experiences Trauma Use Drugs to Cope?

Does Everyone Who Experiences Trauma Use Drugs to Cope?Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. A traumatic event can cause physical and psychological side effects, overwhelming one’s emotions and ability to cope. Examples of a traumatic event include the following situations: natural disasters, terrorism, rape, war, crime, abuse and accidents. Suffering from trauma is similar to experiencing chronic stress or crisis, but the trauma is brought on by a specific, terrifying event or experience.

Why Does Crisis and Trauma Lead to Drug Use?

Many people feel fortunate to live through a traumatic event; however they usually do not escape without incurring some damage. Trauma can cause great emotional and psychological pain, producing feelings of depression, despair, hopelessness, sleeplessness, overwhelming fear, paralysis, grief and looming thoughts about death. The experience can be haunting. A person may close himself off from others because it seems like no one else will understand what he went through or how he is feeling. In order to cope with or escape from pain, a person may seek out drugs or alcohol. Being high, buzzed or drunk can either distract people from or temporarily improve their hurt; it is a form of self-medication.

Sometimes trauma can develop into a more serious problem, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This disorder encompasses all the symptoms of trauma, but is at found at an elevated level. People with PTSD have symptoms that last for one month or longer and these symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to function as they did before the traumatic event. PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder characterized by three symptoms:

  • Reliving the experience; memories, flashbacks, hallucinations and nightmares.
  • Avoiding people, places, thoughts or situations similar to the trauma. Avoidance is extreme and can involve isolation or detachment from family, friends, hobbies and interests.
  • Living in fear; the individual is in a constant state of arousal or appears on edge at all times. This can lead to heightened emotions or outbursts and irritability or restlessness.

Do I Need Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD is not something that a person will just get over and it cannot be cured strictly with medication. People struggling with trauma or PTSD need to find treatment that targets all of their symptoms: the physical, psychological and spiritual damage. Medication can be beneficial, but in most cases it leads to dependency or addiction, because patients become reliant on the drug to make them feel well.

Psychotherapy teaches patients to manage their symptoms and cope with them in a healthy way. Patients work through their fears in a variety of ways such as through the following methods:

  • Cognitive-behavior therapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Find Treatment Help for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Drug Abuse

If you are having trouble coping with trauma, drug abuse is not the solution. Call our toll-free helpline today if you are ready to find a treatment solution that will help. Our recovery counselors are available 24 hours a day at a toll-free helpline to provide you with information and answer any questions you may have about treatment for PTSD and drug or alcohol abuse. We can connect you to the experts in Dual Diagnosis treatment and find a program that meets your individual recovery needs. The pain you are feeling is very real; find a treatment program that has a real solution. Call today.

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