The Link Between PTSD and Substance Use


Reposted from article by the VA’s National Center for PTSD

The Link Between PTSD and Substance Use

The link between PTSD and substance use may be more common than you think. PTSD and substance use often go together. Many people turn to drugs, alcohol, or nicotine to try to cope with symptoms of PTSD. However, these substances could make existing PTSD symptoms worse or even lead to Substance Use Disorder (SUD) (PDF).

PTSD and Substance Misuse Can Make Symptoms Worse

Misusing alcohol and drugs can affect your health, your relationships, and your job or schooling, whether you have PTSD or not. But people with PTSD who turn to alcohol and drugs can make their symptoms worse.

  • Using drugs and alcohol to help you fall asleep can backfire. Instead of helping, drugs and alcohol change the quality of your sleep. You are likely to have a restless night and wake up feeling less refreshed.
  • Drugs and alcohol continue the cycle of avoidance found in PTSD. Avoiding bad memories and dreams or certain people and places can make PTSD last longer. People with PTSD cannot make as much progress in treatment if they continue to avoid what bothers them.

If you’re living with PTSD and SUD, you’re not alone. More than one in five Veterans with PTSD also have a substance use disorder, and almost one out of every three Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also have PTSD. The good news is, you can treat both PTSD and SUD at the same time.

CLICK HERE to learn How to Get Help for PTSD and SUD and to read the full article.