For people who have experienced a deeply traumatic event in their lives, the link to abuse is more frequent. Whether it is child abuse or war, drugs and alcohol are a likely go-to “solution” for these victims. They’ll take drugs and drink to ease that pain, help them sleep, ease the anxiety and escape the haunting memories of what lead them to substance abuse.
But it comes with a cost of its own, and as the anxiety is reduced briefly, it comes back two-fold as the side effects set in.
As many as 75 percent of people who have gone through traumatic events report having issues with alcohol. Up to 80 percent of Vietnam War veterans who seek help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also having issues with alcohol.
Sadly, veterans 65 and older with PTSD are at more risk of committing suicide when they also have a problem with drinking. Children who have been sexually assaulted gravitate to alcohol at a rate of 4.5 times more than other children their age who were not assaulted, and they’re nine times more likely to get into drug abuse and dependence.
The victims of PTSD do find some relief in their substances, whether its beer or cocaine or prescription drugs. As soon as the effect of the drugs and alcohol wear off, they’re back where they started and have to use again to find that relief.
The self-medicating route often leads to serious physical and mental health problems, not to mention legal issues and possibly years of imprisonment.
The problems for substance abusers that are also dealing with PTSD just seem to compound. Half of these people develop other disorders that are both psychological and physical. Heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression and liver disease are among the most common issues these victims face.
Professionals must address the problems. Many times, these addictions and issues can be insurmountable when faced alone.