We know a lot more about PTSD than we used to. I want to focus on one of the symptoms. Addiction.

Dual Diagnosis:

Many individuals with PTSD will turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to numb their pain or to gain some measure of control in their lives.

National Center for PTSD:

Some people try to cope with their Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms by drinking heavily, using drugs, or smoking too much. People with PTSD have more problems with drugs and alcohol both before and after getting PTSD. Also, even if someone does not have a problem with alcohol before a traumatic event, getting PTSD increases the risk that he or she will develop a drinking or drug problem.

Addiction Center:

Following a traumatic experience, the brain produces less endorphins, one of the chemicals that help us feel happy. People with PTSD may turn to alcohol and other mood-enhancing drugs, which increase endorphin levels. Over time, they may come to rely on drugs to relieve all of their feelings of depression, anxiety and irritability.

Behavioral Health Evolution:

Among people seeking treatment for substance use disorders, it’s estimated that nearly one in three are suffering symptoms of PTSD. Rates of alcohol and substance use disorders among those diagnosed with PTSD are also strikingly high.

Dr. Lonny Shavelson found that 70% of female heroin addicts had been sexually assaulted in childhood. So yes. “Rates of alcohol and substance use disorders among those diagnosed with PTSD are also strikingly high.”

What brought all this on was the announcement of a Presidential Commission to study the recent wave of opiate deaths in America. What are the odds that this commission, headed by that renowned expert on drugs and substance abuse, Governor Chris Christie, will even give a nod in the direction of PTSD? Roughly zero.

I should add that long term PTSD is a genetic disease triggered by trauma.