PTSD and Substance Abuse in Men: The Battle on Two Fronts

In a culture that puts pressure on men to “tough it out” and sweep challenging emotions under the rug, dealing with trauma’s long-lasting aftereffects can be difficult. The situation becomes even more complicated when substance abuse enters the picture. Understanding the connection between these two conditions is essential for recovery.

Why Do PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Frequently Co-Occur?

The intersection of PTSD and addiction stems from their similarities. PTSD is a mental health issue that can develop in the wake of a traumatic event, such as war, violence, accidents or any other situation that leaves a deep emotional scar.

To cope with their troubling PTSD symptoms, men may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their pain and temporarily escape their traumatic memories. Unfortunately, this self-medication strategy can quickly evolve into a co-occurring addiction.

Factors Involved in PTSD and Substance Abuse

Several factors contribute to the frequent co-occurrence of PTSD and substance abuse.
  • Self-medication: Men with PTSD may use substances to alleviate symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety. These substances might initially provide relief, but over time, they can exacerbate PTSD symptoms and lead to addiction.
  • Brain chemistry: PTSD and substance use disorders affect the same areas of the brain, particularly those related to fear and reward. Trauma can disrupt the brain’s natural balance, and substance abuse can further affect this delicate equilibrium.
  • Social isolation: The stigma associated with mental health disorders like PTSD often leads to loneliness, which can exacerbate symptoms and increase the likelihood of substance use as a form of self-soothing.

The Dual Diagnosis Disruption

A dual diagnosis of PTSD and substance use disorder can be extremely disruptive, affecting your relationships, job performance and overall quality of life. It can create a destructive cycle that’s challenging to break without help.
At New Found Life, we understand the complex relationship between PTSD and substance use disorders, and we work every day to help men face and overcome this combined challenge. We offer a full continuum of care, including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, outpatient rehab and transitional sober living in our Footsteps program.
Our integrated approach addresses the underlying causes of both disorders, providing tools and resources for long-term healing and recovery. We understand that recovery is not a linear process, and our experienced team is ready to adapt our care to meet each client’s specific needs.


New Found Life works with several insurance carriers. Please call 1-800-635-9899 for quick and easy insurance verification.

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