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It may not be surprising that PTSD and drug and alcohol use commonly co-occur. That is, study after study has found that people with PTSD often also have problems with alcohol and drug use. The consistent finding is that individuals with PTSD are more likely to have problems with alcohol and/or drug use.
Researchers have proposed a number of theories or explanations as to why people with PTSD have higher rates of alcohol and drug use. These are briefly reviewed below.
The high-risk theory states that drug and alcohol problems occur before PTSD develops. Proponents of this model believe that the use of alcohol and drugs puts people at greater risk for experiencing traumatic events, and therefore, at greater risk for developing PTSD.
The self-medication theory states that people with PTSD use substances as a way of reducing distress tied to particular PTSD symptoms. For example, alcohol (a depressant) may be used to reduce extreme hyperarousal symptoms.
The susceptibility theory suggests that there is something about alcohol and drug use that may increase a person’s risk for developing PTSD symptoms after experiencing a traumatic event.
Shared Vulnerability Theory
This theory states that some people may have a genetic vulnerability that increases the likelihood that they will develop both PTSD and substance abuse problems following a traumatic event.
Trauma is the root cause of addiction, according to Dr. Gabor Mate
Gabor Mate, Regina Leader Post
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