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Substance Use and Traumatic Events

It is commonly joked about that no matter what is going on, whether something terrible has happened, or it’s just Saturday night, people will always drink. This notion actually holds some truth. Drugs and alcohol are commonly used to self-medicate, soothe, and comfort ourselves in times of stress, and research has shown this to be true following natural disasters and terrorist attacks. It is more common for people without other mental health issues to occasionally use alcohol as a coping mechanism. Those who have an underlying mental health disorder are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than those who don’t. This isn’t too surprising, since many people seek to self-medicate depression, anxiety, or PTSD with drugs or alcohol.

A study performed in 2001, five weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City, found an increased usage of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana, especially in people who already used these chemicals before the attacks. In this study, the rates of PTSD and depression were nearly double that of the national average. Six to nine months later, researchers found that the rates of depression and PTSD had drastically lowered, but substance abuse rates remained relatively the same. These findings are significant in that they remind health care providers, as well as the community to be vigilant toward substance abuse following traumatic events.

The relationship between trauma, mental health disorders, and substance abuse is long-standing. People who experienced trauma at an early age will often develop PTSD and depression, both of which can be precursors to substance abuse. Experiencing trauma at an early age increases the risk of substance abuse, but anyone can develop drug addiction following psychological trauma, regardless of age. Other factors, such as having family members who have or have had substance use disorders, and having friends who abuse drugs or alcohol can play a role in the development of addiction. Prevention is key, and in the event of a tragedy, natural disaster, or any other traumatic event, mental health counseling and treatment stands out as a means to lower the risk of potential addiction.





If a loved one or yourself is struggling with addiction, call the Serenity Recovery Center. You do not have to go through this alone, we can help. Our detox center is designed to provide you with as much comfort as possible, while safely tapering you off all substances. Give us a call, we are available 24/7, toll-free at (844-339-6964). Recovery is possible, call now.