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There is a strong link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse or drug and alcohol addiction. Many times, an individual will develop PTSD first, after suffering a traumatic event, and then go on to use drugs or alcohol to cope with the symptoms of the disorder.

Fortunately, treatment is available for these co-occurring conditions. People can and do manage PTSD symptoms and substance abuse issues when they receive the right treatment and learn effective coping skills.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a treatable psychiatric disorder that affects people who have experienced (or sometimes just witnessed) a traumatic event. It is a disorder that can affect anyone, no matter how strong or resilient they may be. It’s estimated that nearly 8 million people in the United States suffer from PTSD, and that about 7 or 8 out of 100 people will develop the disorder at some point in their lives.

Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event develops PTSD. In fact, about 70 percent of people experience at least one traumatic event in their lives, but only about 20 percent actually develop PTSD as a result.

Any event that a person finds traumatic can cause PTSD, regardless of how extreme the event is, or how long it lasts. It is not something that they can just “get over” when danger is no longer imminent.

PTSD happens when someone’s brain and body physically react to a perceived threat; they go into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode instinctually. For many people, that physical reaction goes away when the danger is gone. For those with PTSD, that reactive feeling either doesn’t go away completely, or it is reactivated repeatedly – even when there is no threat.

The most common traumatic events that result in the development of PTSD are:

  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Military combat
  • Natural disasters – hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods
  • Physical abuse – single event or ongoing
  • Auto accidents
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Serious illness or death of a loved one
  • Kidnapping
  • Childhood neglect

Again, it can be any event that a person finds traumatic, so it may be something that is not on this list. It can also be something that is witnessed, not directly experienced by someone.

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is usually defined as the repeated harmful use of any substance, including drugs and alcohol. The danger of substance abuse is that it will lead to addiction.

Addiction is a chronic, typically relapsing, disease of the brain that affects the brain’s pleasure center, leading to compulsive substance use and drug-seeking behaviors. Addicted individuals will continue to act out these behaviors even though they are suffering the negative consequences associated with addiction.

Drug and alcohol addiction is considered a brain disease because over time and abuse, the brain changes in function and structure.

While the initial use of drugs or alcohol is an individual’s choice, over time, the changes that happen to the brain due to repeated use can actually impair an individual’s self-control and reduce the ability to make good decisions, while simultaneously creating an overwhelming impulse to take more drugs. Overcoming addiction typically requires professional intervention and long-term support throughout recovery.

Drug or alcohol addiction impacts nearly every aspect of a person’s life. Personal relationships, financial status, and careers are often the first aspects to suffer, and oftentimes, legal problems follow. Additionally, many people with drug or alcohol addictions suffer physical health problems, memory impairment, and ultimately, permanent disability.

The Connections between PTSD and Substance Abuse

Developing PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event increases the risk of an individual having substance abuse issues. It is common for PTSD and Substance Abuse to go hand-in-hand – especially in veterans.

Many people with PTSD use drugs or alcohol as a means to numb feelings and reduce symptoms. It’s a way to self-medicate that many people turn to. Up to 75 percent of people with PTSD also have a problem with drugs or alcohol. And women are more likely than men to drink or use drugs after experiencing trauma.

Sometimes people are unaware that they are using drugs or alcohol to cope with unresolved trauma. They may only remember parts of the trauma they experienced (or not remember at all), yet they are experiencing problematic patterns in their lives that they cannot seem to resolve.

They may end up in drug rehab or another type of treatment, but they will likely get stuck in a cycle of repeated relapse until the unresolved trauma is addressed as well.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Treatment for individuals who have been diagnosed with both PTSD and drug or alcohol addiction must integrate both disorders into the treatment plan. Just as the two conditions have become intertwined, treatment and recovery must be also. Treatment for co-occurring disorders is often more complicated than treating just one.

However, many rehabilitation centers are equipped and experienced in treating individuals suffering from two or more disorders. Finding the right Northern California addiction rehab treatment can lead to long-term, successful recovery.

Are you or a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol abuse?

Call Bright Future Recovery Now

(831) 245-1623

Confidential Consultations and Insurance Verification

Detox | Residential Rehab | Virtual IOP Outpatient Rehab | Relapse Prevention

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Inpatient Treatment for PTSD and Substance Abuse

When someone suffers a traumatic event, the brain undergoes significant stress and physical changes. As a result, new advanced treatments have been developed for trauma treatment that incorporates somatic (body-centered) practices. Treatment that is designed for PTSD and addiction often uses these practices alongside traditional California addiction treatment program.

Essentially, that means that treatment is approached with the understanding that there is a history of trauma, recognizing the symptoms of trauma that are present in the individual, and developing a treatment plan that addresses the underlying issues of trauma. 

There are numerous types of treatment that can be used for individuals with the co-occurring disorders of addiction and PTSD. Ultimately the goal is to recognize the extent of the trauma, identify triggers, and then establish coping skills to effectively deal with daily life. Some of the therapies associated with PTSD are: 

  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Psychodrama therapy
  • Breathwork therapy
  • Brainspotting therapy

Covering the Cost of PTSD and Substance Abuse Treatment 

Most people who seek treatment for the co-occurring disorders of PTSD and substance abuse use their health insurance to help with the cost. This type of treatment falls under the behavioral health benefits offered by health insurance policies. The exact amount or percentage of the cost that is covered varies depending on the specific insurance plan. 

Individuals who don’t have health insurance can still seek treatment. There are many low-cost and even no-cost drug and alcohol treatment centers that also treat co-occurring disorders. There may be a wait to get into these types of treatment programs, but waiting is far better than not getting the help they need. Additionally, some treatment centers offer sliding scale fees, scholarships, or financial aid to help with costs. 

The cost of treatment shouldn’t dissuade anyone from seeking help for substance abuse and PTSD. 

Final Thoughts about PTSD and Substance Abuse 

Treatment is available for you if you are suffering from PTSD and drug or alcohol abuse. There are very effective programs that will address both issues and help you get on the path to recovery. Don’t put off getting a treatment, find a rehab center that offers programs for co-occurring disorders and get the help you need before it’s too late.

Are you or a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol abuse?

Call Bright Future Recovery Now

(831) 245-1623

Confidential Consultations and Insurance Verification

Detox | Residential Rehab | Virtual IOP Outpatient Rehab | Relapse Prevention

Verify Insurance

Frequently Asked Questions

Bright Future Recovery is located one serene drive from Silicon Valley in northern San Benito County, California. Bright Future Recovery is a place where our patients can get away from it all as they focus on detox and starting residential addiction recovery on the right foot.

Even so, our property is close enough to town that you don’t feel disconnected.

Take the first step to a brighter future for yourself, family or loved one today, call (831) 245-1623.

We are family oriented drug and alcohol detox and rehab center in Northern California. We offer a range of holistic and evidence-based addiction treatment services with personalized treatment plans.

Bright Future Recovery Northern California addiction rehab treatment provides whole person recovery with intervention, medical detox, holistic evidence-based residential rehab, outpatient IOP rehab, virtual IOPrelapse prevention and aftercare.

Whether struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, or other form of substance abuse – our professional, experienced and compassionate staff is here to guide and support our patients every step of the way.

As a small 12 bed program in a home-like and comfortable environment – we are able to give our patients individual attention.

Take the first step to a brighter future for yourself, family or loved one today, call (831) 245-1623.

Medications during medical detox are given as needed; dosage is determined by a licensed physician. The length of detox is dependent on several factors. These include general health and type and length of the addiction.

For treating opiate addiction, we use MAT Medication-Assisted Treatment.

Please call Bright Future Recovery for a confidential consultation at (831) 245-1623.


An average detox takes 7 – 10 days. Although for some individuals detox may last longer. The length of detox depends on several factors. These include overall health, substance taken and the length of the addiction.

We treat opiate addiction with MAT medication-assisted treatment. 

Please call Bright Future Recovery for a confidential consultation at (831) 245-1623.

Addiction is a complex disease that can have a devastating impact on individuals, families, and communities. But there is hope. Bright Future Recovery residential addiction treatment provides the support and structure individuals need to overcome addiction and achieve lasting recovery.

Our addiction rehab treatment provides whole person recovery with intervention, medical detox, holistic evidence-based residential rehab, Virtual IOP outpatient rehabrelapse prevention and aftercare.

We accept most insurance and can verify your insurance benefits.

Verify Insurance Benefits

Residential rehab treatment can last 30 to 90 days or longer – depending on the needs of the individual.

Take the first step to a brighter future for yourself, family or loved one today, call (831) 245-1623.

Whether stepping down from residential treatment or seeking to complement ongoing recovery efforts – our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is designed to support your unique path to wellness.

In our IOP Program, patients can maintain their daily routine while accessing the quality treatment and support needed to recover and thrive.

· Patients can participate in our Outpatient IOP holistic alcohol and addiction recovery rehab while maintaining personal and professional responsibilities.

· Patients graduating from our Residential Rehab program can continue to receive professional support and rehab education.

· Virtual IOP – Our outpatient treatment program in a convenient, flexible format that allows clients to receive our IOP rehab from any internet-connected device.

Please call Bright Future Recovery for a confidential consultation at (831) 245-1623.

Location and Directions

Bright Future Recovery also owns and operates Avila Heights Recovery.
Avila Heights Recovery is our luxury executive rehab in San Luis Obispo.

Disclaimer of Bright Future Recovery Blog

Bright Future Recovery does not offer mental health treatment services relating to schizophrenia or other major trauma.

This article provides general information and discussions about substance abuse and mental health related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This blog does not constitute the practice of any medical, nursing or other professional health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. We cannot diagnose conditions, provide second opinions or make specific treatment recommendations through this blog or website.

If you or any other person has a mental health concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website or in any linked materials.

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