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Interventions for Loved Ones Struggling with Trauma and AddictionTrauma survivors often turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to numb unpleasant memories. When these individuals begin abusing drugs or become dependent on alcohol, family members and friends often struggle to find ways to help.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the United States

Individuals who are involved in combat or are assaulted or part of a natural disaster may develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that follows a traumatic event. Around 5.2 million adults have PTSD in a given year according to a 1995 survey published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Women are more likely to develop the disorder with around 10 percent of women showing symptoms in their lifetime compared to 5 percent of men.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse as a Coping Technique for Trauma

People who want to escape traumatic memories may believe they are coping by using alcohol or drugs, but this can actually intensify the symptoms of PTSD. Substance and alcohol abuse may do the following:

  • Make individuals unaware of their true feelings or “numb” their feelings
  • Separate them from family and friends
  • Increase feelings of anger or irritability
  • Intensify depression symptoms
  • Promote the need to be prepared or stay “on guard”

Signs of Addiction In a Loved One

A person using drugs or alcohol to deal with trauma may show obvious signs of addiction. You can identify an alcohol or substance abuse problem by doing the following:

  • Look for physical changes such as bloodshot eyes, shakes or tremors, unusual weight loss or gain and nose bleeds
  • Notice if the individual is having recent trouble at school or work
  • Determine if social circles or close friends have disappeared or changed
  • Look for behavioral changes such as aggression or social withdrawal
  • Look for strange behaviors such as hyperactivity, extreme lack of motivation, or periods of fear, anxiousness or paranoia

Talking to a Family Member or Friend about Addiction

When it is time to talk to a loved one, begin a conversation when the individual is sober. It is common for people with substance abuse issues to deny there is a problem. It is also possible the individual may deny being upset about traumatic events. Doing the following can help overcome denial and negative responses:

  • Have a set of examples of how addiction or trauma has affected the individual or yourself, but avoid getting angry about the events.
  • Remain calm and focused on helping the individual. Expect her to promise to quit, but encourage her to get the professional help she needs.
  • Resist the urge to take over her duties or fix her problems. Let her understand consequences of continued drug use or a refusal to accept help.

Need Help Encouraging Your Loved One To Overcome Addiction?

Don’t wait to get help. The earlier a person receives help for a traumatic event and substance abuse, the faster he or she can return to a successful life. Please call our toll-free number today to receive more information about substance abuse treatment for trauma survivors. We are available 24 hours a day to help you find the recovery solutions you need. Give your loved one professional support today.