Addiction and PTSD

In the shadows of trauma, the spectre of addiction looms. For those grappling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse often becomes an insidious coping mechanism, further complicating an already tumultuous journey towards healing.

Overcoming addiction and PTSD requires confronting the realities that accompany these co-occurring disorders, but you don’t have to do it alone. At Oasis Bradford, we address the root causes of PTSD and addiction so you can embark on a path towards healing, understanding and sustainable recovery.


PTSD and addiction - man with PTSD

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental health condition that stems from experiencing trauma, which was once thought only to affect soldiers in war zones. However, we now understand that anyone can develop PTSD after any traumatic event, whether a one-time occurrence like a car accident or a prolonged experience like bullying or abuse. The severity of PTSD varies, categorised as mild, moderate, or severe, and there is also a complex form that includes additional symptoms such as suicidal thoughts and extremely low self-esteem.

What is the link between PTSD and addiction?

Addiction and PTSD are commonly seen together, as substance abuse is often comorbid with PTSD. A study into substance abuse among people living with PTSD conducted in 2010, and found that the rates of substance abuse were much higher in the sample population than in the general population. Specifically, 39% of PTSD patients were dependent on alcohol, 6.2% on heroin/opiates, and 44.8% on marijuana.

People with PTSD often abuse substances to self-medicate, as PTSD can be tough to treat. Those with an existing substance abuse disorder can also develop PTSD as a secondary condition due to trauma from their long-term addiction.

What are the consequences of PTSD and addiction?

People with PTSD are already prone to experiencing:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Issues with emotional regulation
  • Anxiety
  • Losing interest in things that once sparked joy

When this condition co-occurs with substance abuse, however, the symptoms become even more intense and may worsen the addiction.

Many people with PTSD and addiction will struggle to stay consistent in life, whether that means grappling with:

  • Committing to relationships
  • Holding down a job
  • Sticking to a hobby

In addition to these issues, when complex PTSD and addiction are not diagnosed, people with this dual diagnosis may believe they have done something wrong to cause their symptoms. They may compare themselves to others struggling less, making them feel inferior and less valuable.

Finally, PTSD and addiction can be misdiagnosed as something else, particularly if the sufferer represses their emotions. For example, when someone has repressed grief, they may be diagnosed with depression when in fact, the depressive symptoms stem from undiagnosed PTSD.

Treatment for PTSD and addiction at Oasis Bradford

At Oasis Bradford, we understand the complex interplay between mental health issues and addiction.

Some key components of dual diagnosis rehab treatment at Oasis Bradford include:

  • One-to-one therapy: Various therapeutic modalities, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), will allow you to gain insight into the emotions and behaviours contributing to your substance abuse and develop coping strategies that help both issues.
  • Detox: Detox is the process where your body rids itself from harmful toxins consumed throughout your addiction under medical supervision. This is an important step at the start of your rehab programme.
  • Group Therapy: A supportive environment where you can connect with others facing similar challenges is vital in your recovery journey. It offers an opportunity to share experiences, learn from each other, and develop healthy coping skills.
  • Medication Management: Psychiatric medications may be prescribed to manage mental health symptoms and stabilise mood. You must stabilise your condition before starting rehab for your addiction, giving you the best chance of sobriety.


PTSD and addiction - group therapy


Our addiction treatment programme prioritises sustainable recovery. This means you will not be taught to repress your emotions or take medication and hope the symptoms disappear. Instead, at Oasis Bradford, you will work on yourself daily, building mental frameworks and social networks to support you when you leave inpatient treatment and begin your new, sober life.

Can PTSD and drug addiction be cured?

Our holistic approach to treating PTSD and drug addiction at Oasis Bradford is focused on addressing underlying trauma while helping the person with detox and rehab treatment. This offers clients the tools to work towards a successful recovery. Once you complete your treatment with us, you will have a much better handle on your mental health, allowing you to live a much happier life.

Contact us to find out more.

Frequently asked questions

Does PTSD trauma have to be drug-related to cause addiction?
Some clients develop PTSD after being raised by parents who abuse drugs, witnessing friends become ill or die due to drug addiction, or being regularly exposed to chronic drug use.
However, you do not have to have trauma directly related to addiction to develop PTSD alongside addiction. Your trauma could be caused by neglect, grief, mental illness, physical illness, accidents, or anything else that causes an extreme emotional response.