Substance abuse is common among people suffering from a mental condition and vice versa. Co-occurrence of a mental condition and a substance use disorder can be seen in many people, with one leading to the another. Such a phenomenon is known as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. Co-existence of an opioid addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most commonly seen co-occurring disorders.
The co-occurrence of opioid addiction and PTSD is prevalent among both the genders. However, it is mostly observed among women, especially the battered ones. PTSD is a common mental condition among women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, such as rape or child abuse. Many of them even suffer from opioid addiction as they are usually prescribed with opioids to treat their chronic pain. Studies suggest that the comorbidity of both the conditions is difficult to diagnose as the symptoms of PTSD and opiate dependence tend to converge.
Prescription opioid abuse increases risk of PTSD by 42 percent
A study published in May 2014 in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse indicated a clear link between prescription opioid abuse and relative severity of PTSD. For the study purpose, the researchers involved obtained information collected in 2011 from 573 people who were receiving treatment for substance addiction. Factors such as race/ethnicity, heritage, gender, age of the participants, level of involvement in the abuse of opioid medications or other substances, and the number of diagnosable PTSD symptoms were also taken into consideration.
The findings of the study concluded that the chances of developing severe form of PTSD in people struggling substance abuse increased by 42 percent as compared to people who were non-addicts. A higher risk was observed in participants who combined prescription opioid abuse with abuse of cocaine or sedative medications. The analysis of the demographic details revealed that women who abused opioids had 200 percent higher chances of developing PTSD, as compared to men with opioid addiction. However, in terms of age, younger adults aged 18-34 years with prescription opioid addiction were more vulnerable to PTSD than older adults.
Chronic pain increases risk of opioid abuse in people with PTSD
Studies show that people suffering from PTSD often experience moments of fear, agitation, chronic pain, insomnia or hyper-arousal. These people often try to self-medicate their condition with the use of illicit drugs or overdose on prescription drugs which results in opioid addiction in them. Opiates prescribed for mental illnesses, such as PTSD, anxiety or depression provide temporary relief from the symptoms and they induce a feeling of high. Therefore, many people with PTSD tend to abuse the drugs in order to get rid of PTSD symptoms.
This trend is more prevalent among war veterans who often suffer from PTSD due to their experiences of horrifying events, blood-shed and grievous combat. While many of these veterans tend to suffer from chronic pains due to their injuries, some also experience blackouts, angry outbursts and flashbacks that lead to PTSD. Therefore, they are often prescribed powerful pain relievers to numb their nerves as well as emotional pain. This combination of opioids and mental illness increases the risk of developing opioid addiction.
Road to recovery
Besides the comorbidity of opioid addiction and PTSD, co-occurrence of marijuana addiction and schizophrenia, cocaine addiction and anxiety disorders and depression and alcohol is also common. To ensure successful recovery from co-occurring disorders, it is important to treat both the addiction and the mental illness simultaneously. Treating only one condition at a time increases the risk of relapse.
If you or your loved one is suffering from dual diagnosis, it is imperative to take medical help before matters go out of control. If you would like to know about dual diagnosis treatment programs in California, you may contact the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 or chat online with our representative who can provide you with information on dual diagnosis treatment centers in California and help you find the best dual diagnosis rehab in California.
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