Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that may bring on symptoms that include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable and intrusive thoughts surrounding the event(s) that caused the PTSD. If the symptoms disappear after 3-5 months, it is called Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). If, however, symptoms persist for a longer duration, it graduates to PTSD diagnosis.Symptoms of PTSD
Persistent re-experiencing of:
Persistent avoidance and emotional numbing:
Persistent symptoms of increased arousal not present before:
It’s not surprising that PTSD and chemical dependency are commonly linked as co-occurring disorders. Research consistently demonstrates that individuals who suffer from trauma or PTSD are more likely to have problems with substance dependence.
For example, in a large survey of individuals from communities across the United States, it was found that 34.5% of men who had PTSD at some point in their lifetime also had a problem with drug abuse or dependence. Comparable rates for women, 26.9% were also found.
So the question is, why are drug and alcohol use rates elevated in PTSD? Many researchers have proposed a number of theories that help answer these questions. Briefly outlined below are the current theories.
But which theory is correct?
Research actually supports all of the aforementioned theories. More than anything, however, research shows that the development of co-occurring conditions of PTSD and substance abuse/dependence is truly unique to each person and is dependent upon a number of factors such as a person’s family history, age, gender, culture and whether or not they have another condition, such as depression.