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PTSD and Drug Abuse

One such mental health disorder is PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is brought on by stressful events or trauma and often the overwhelming aftereffects of combat situations.

Another issue combat soldiers run into is traumatic brain injury (TBI). This occurs when someone receives a jolt or blow to the head that impairs normal brain function, and this can happen when soldiers are near explosions.

 Many who suffer from PTSD also suffer from TBI.

A large percentage of military veterans suffer from PTSD. According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, the numbers of those reported for treatment are as high as:
  • 31 percent of Vietnam veterans
  • 20 percent of Iraq war veterans
  • 11 percent of Afghanistan veterans
  • 10 percent of Gulf War veterans

These numbers may actually be higher as incidents of PTSD can sometimes be hard to quantify and many who have the disorder do not seek treatment.
PTSD, TBI, and addiction often go hand in hand as suffering veterans look for ways to cope with the emotional turmoil. In addition, sufferers of PTSD are twice as likely to receive an opioid pain reliever prescription than those not suffering from PTSD.

Veterans often suffer from physical pain from injuries and opioid painkillers are highly addictive, putting those also suffering from a mental health disorder at further risk for addiction.Additionally, 60 to 80 percent of veterans from the Vietnam War suffering from PTSD also have an alcohol use disorder.

Substance abuse can make the treatment of PTSD much harder and can actually worsen the symptoms.Perhaps these two disorders are so often seen together in veterans because they come from the same root cause.

PTSD stems from trauma and often substance abuse is seen as a way to self-medicate which can lead to addiction. Numbing the pain and drowning your sorrows seem so much more appealing than seeking help to combat these inner demons who hitched a ride back from war in a veteran’s psyche.
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