The Relationship Between PTSD and Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you already know how difficult it can be to adapt and cope with your issues. Having PTSD is not just something that military veterans come home with; it’s something that people worldwide struggle with and often have a hard time explaining to others. 

Unfortunately, with all the other struggles that a person with PTSD endures, many will also have to battle a substance use disorder. 

Knowing the signs and understanding how the two work together can help you to find positive coping methods and learn how to control your emotions and triggers to live a more successful and fulfilled life. 

At Soba Recovery, understand that dealing with addiction is hard on its own, and when you have other factors impacting your mental health, it can feel isolating and never-ending. Read on to learn more about the relationship between PTSD and addiction. 

What Is Addiction?

Addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD), is a complex condition that changes the way your brain functions. It makes you believe you need the substance to survive. It messes with your perception of reality and can make you act out in ways you normally wouldn’t. When dealing with addiction, you are often trying to escape the reality you are living in due to personal trauma. 

When you are addicted to a substance, you cannot control your urges to use the substance and make poor decisions in favor of the substance. As soon as a substance you are using disrupts your daily activities and you can’t function without it, you have reached dangerous and concerning levels of your substance use. 

Signs of Addiction

Some signs that you or a loved one is struggling with addiction are:

  • Having a disregard for harmful situations, they put themselves or others into.
  • Not being able to go a day without the substance.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Becoming easily angered or upset.
  • Inability to sleep or keep up hygiene.

Calling out signs of addiction with your loved ones can be difficult, but having a conversation about your concerns only shows them that someone is willing to help.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that individuals get diagnosed with after a traumatic experience. People with PTSD might struggle with flashbacks and bad dreams about the event that happened to them, causing them to revert to experience the emotions they had at that moment. It can be debilitating for many and cause severe issues in daily life. 

Things that can cause PTSD are:

  • Military combat
  • Abusive relationships
  • Sexual Assault 
  • Natural disasters
  • Childhood trauma
  • Car accident
  • Death of a loved one
  • Being physically attacked

Often, people with PTSD will avoid certain places, things, songs, and even people to avoid any thoughts or flashbacks. Many people have to fully adapt their lives to live without being reminded of the event, and many have a difficult time coping as it’s like reliving a nightmare over and over. 

People with PTSD can have a hard time separating what’s happening currently with memories, and how their environment is around them in one moment could place them back at the moment they experienced trauma. 

You might notice that someone with PTSD will stare blankly for a while, which can be them rewatching a negative memory unfold and then suddenly snap out of it. 

If left untreated by a treatment program that may include medications and behavioral therapies, occurring PTSD can affect you for a lifetime. 

Symptoms of PTSD

There are a few PTSD symptoms to be on the lookout for; here are some to consider:

  • Having difficulty sleeping due to nightmares or intrusive thoughts.
  • Reliving trauma and experiencing flashbacks and bad memories.
  • Becoming easily irritated or upset.
  • Constant blame on oneself.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Feelings of irritability. 
  • Suddenly having a blank look in their eyes as they stare off.
  • Avoiding certain people and places or having visceral reactions to objects, sounds, or names.
  • Drug use or they may abuse alcohol.

If you notice someone is dealing with PTSD, the best plan of action is to try to get them help so that they can learn how to cope appropriately. This can be difficult to discuss, but it’s so important and helpful!

How PTSD and Addiction Are Connected

It is actually widespread for someone with PTSD also to have substance use issues. 50% of people who have been diagnosed with PTSD will be diagnosed with substance use disorder. 

People with PTSD often self-medicate because of how frequent and debilitating their symptoms are. Drugs and alcohol might subdue the pain by making you forget the trauma and feel outside of your body for a brief moment, but this is not a good way to cope overall. 

PTSD alters your brain chemistry similarly to addiction, but they work together to justify the behavior. After experiencing a traumatic event, your brain will produce fewer endorphins, and so the way for people to experience those feelings of happiness is through mood-enhancing substances. 

There are many triggers that people with PTSD have that could use substances to combat that feeling.

Both addiction and PTSD are occurring disorders that affect a person’s memory, and when they are combined, they intensify the feelings that one might feel in a situation. Substance use gives people the ability to forget memories that bring them pain, but with the right help, you can find better ways to cope with your trauma. 

Signs of Substance Use In People With PTSD

It can often be hard to see when people with PTSD struggle with substance use because some of the signs are very similar from an outside perspective. Some examples of substance abuse include alcohol and drug abuse. 

There are a few ways you can tell when someone is using drugs or alcohol to a dangerous extent to help cope with their PTSD:

  • If while intoxicated, the person is extremely withdrawn.
  • They experience more depression and anxiety.
  • They might be extremely nervous until they have used a substance.
  • If they are using substances more frequently throughout the day.
  • If they become secretive about what they spend their time doing and withdraw themselves from situations, they are used to. 
  • Arousal and reactivity.

For those dealing with PTSD and substance abuse like drug use or alcohol use disorder, substance abuse treatment, addiction treatment, and counseling may be helpful for your road to recovery. Substance abuse treatments will have you go through a detox period to help you get one step closer to sobriety. While relapse may be a fear, it is less likely to occur with the right program and support. 

Getting Help At Soba Recovery Centers

When it comes to struggling with addiction and PTSD, you are not alone. Soba Recovery is here to assist you through your recovery and set you up for success upon your return to the community. 

Soba Recovery focuses on the individual’s needs, and so for those who have PTSD and addiction, the sessions you attend will be geared towards treating your PTSD as well. We understand that you can’t treat one without treating the other and that success does not happen if you don’t care for all of your needs. 

By evaluating how the two work together for your specific case, we can help to create positive coping methods to practice when experiencing stress. 

Soba Recovery Centers are located in two treatment facilities: San Antonio, TX, and Mesa, AZ; we offer various services, like inpatient, outpatient, and sober living to help assist you through these darker times. You will leave out facilities with confidence that will help you fight back against your addiction and know how to prepare for PTSD episodes. 

There is a treatment option for everyone, no matter what your diagnosis is. Treatment outcomes will vary upon the person and treatment program.

If you have other questions about the services we offer, please reach out to a Soba Recovery Center representative; we are happy to help! 



Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders: Advances in Assessment and Treatment | NCBI

What Is Addiction? | American Psychiatric Association 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction | Dual Diagnosis 

Inpatient vs. Outpatient: How Do They Differ?

When you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, it can be overwhelming to navigate the multiple kinds of treatment services that rehab facilities offer. If you aren’t familiar with rehabilitation facilities and their processes, you might leave your search feeling more discouraged than you anticipated. 

When it comes to finding what you need at a trusted rehabilitation center, the main thing to know is that they will offer two primary services: inpatient and outpatient.

No matter what services you end up signing up for, know that you are completing one of the hardest parts, and that’s asking for help.  

The Main Similarities

The main similarity between both inpatient and outpatient care is behind their intentions. Both treatments are there to help you or your loved ones become healthier and overcome their addiction. 

In many cases, inpatient and outpatient services will be recommended for you to partake in, with outpatient coming after you have participated in inpatient. This has to do with the severity of the substance use that is being treated. 

Both inpatient and outpatient treatments offer multiple services, from personalized therapy, group therapy, detoxification, or medication; all are meant to help overcome addiction. When it comes down to it, the main difference between the two is that you are admitted into a stay at the facility with an inpatient. With outpatient, you will be traveling from your home or sober living situation into the center for care. 

Knowing the differences between inpatient and outpatient makes it a lot easier to decide which form of care would be best for you. As always, if you are not sure and want to speak to a medical professional more about your specific situation, call someone at Soba Recovery Centers to learn more.

Inpatient Care

When you decide on inpatient care, a huge team of supporters might be behind you that helped you get to this decision. It’s not easy to get up and press pause on the life that you live to focus on your health. Inpatient care means that you take a step back from your responsibilities to focus on recovery fully. 

With inpatient care, you are provided around-the-clock close monitoring because it will benefit you the most. The path to recovery is best done with support and care. 

Inpatient care will provide you with round-the-clock care from highly trained medical professionals who, trust us, know what they are doing! While you are undergoing care, you can feel safe knowing that the people taking care of you are trained to do so. Allowing yourself to be taken care of and helped is essential in the recovery process!

The last thing you want to do is relapse, and what goes hand-in-hand with relapse is a lack of self-care and focus. Being inside a recovery center whose main goal is to get you better, you have your full focus directed on yourself and your needs. 

We get that being a spouse, sibling, parent, employee, caretaker, whatever it may be, can be emotionally and physically taxing. You need to focus on yourself to move forward in your recovery, and inpatient care is there to help.   

How To Prepare

When you are preparing to enter an inpatient treatment facility, you should understand that you will be putting your life on pause. You have to make arrangements for anyone you care for, whether it be children or pets, to be taken care of. 

Anything that you are in charge of, you need to find someone to cover for you so that when you come back from the center, you aren’t placed directly back into chaos, expecting to take care of yourself and all your overdue tasks.

It can be difficult, but communicating with the people around you about your situation can help you prepare. You can release some of the stress you build up by simply telling people where you will be and what your goals are. This can help get some additional support from those around you, so they know why you might be asking for a bit more help. 

Some things you should add to your to-do list to prepare for inpatient care:

  • Make sure that children and pets have someone to take care of them.
  • Consider the price you will have to pay for the treatment and talk with providers to understand the financial obligations.
  • Speak with your employer about your situation and being off work while you are in the facility.
  • Pay any bills or meet due dates before entering the facility. 
  • Know what you can and can’t take with you to your rehab facility.
  • Know the rough estimate of how many days you will be away.
  • Find someone that can take you to and from the recovery center.
  • Make sure you give contact information to your family so they can reach out to you at the center and vice versa.
  • Bring a journal or pad to write in; it can help the time go by when you are without your loved ones. 

Everyone will have a different experience when it comes to their recovery and the treatment they undergo. Inpatient is meant to curate a recovery plan specific to your needs so that you will be successful. Not everyone will benefit from the same activities, procedures, medications, etc. 

While all treatment plans usually become individual as you make changes and adapt to your own needs, inpatient care wants to prioritize you from the start so that you have the full support needed to overcome addiction. 

What To Expect

When you arrive at inpatient treatment, there are a few things that you might expect to see: all white everything, sterile labs, metal beds, people in hospital bed gowns, and very harsh lighting coming from the ceiling. 

Wrong! An inpatient treatment facility is nothing like that of a horror movie hospital. Most facilities want to capture the feeling that you’re at your home-away-from-home. You should be comfortable at your inpatient facility because the goal is to provide professional treatment that will help you get out and live your best life. 

You should expect to be on a strict schedule, with around-the-clock care. That means that no matter what kind of care you need—physical, emotional, or psychological—you can get it at any point. You won’t be left alone if you don’t want to be. The staff is trained to work with your needs to make a recovery as easy as possible. 

Things you should be prepared for when at inpatient treatment are:

  • A strict schedule: Most of your days might seem rigid, but staying occupied can help when trying to overcome a substance use disorder. 
  • Daily, if not multiple, visits from professionals: Whether it be in individual or group therapy, you will see psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors throughout your day to monitor your progress and assist you in any way you need emotionally and mentally. Everyone serves a different purpose, and collectively they are essential in your recovery process. 
  • Medically assisted detoxification: The process of detoxing from a substance can be terrifying to think about going through alone, but with inpatient care, you are monitored and taken care of throughout the process. This helps to alleviate stress and make sure that you stay safe. 
  • Speaking with your loved ones: When you go to inpatient treatment, you aren’t cut off from your loved ones. You can carve out time to talk with them and see them (especially if you are there for long periods).

How Long It Will Last

Depending on your individual needs, you could be at inpatient treatment anywhere from several days to six months. The severity of your substance use disorder will affect how long you stay. 

Everyone’s journey is different. It’s hard to say exactly how long you will be there, so that’s why planning is important!

Outpatient Care

Outpatient care is often the next step you take after completing inpatient care. Hopefully, the rehab center (like here at Soba) you are coming from after inpatient will have outpatient services, so it’s easier to make the transition. Outpatient services don’t require you to be at the facility but allow you to come back onto the campus and receive continued care during your recovery.

This way, your transition back into the community isn’t abrupt and harsh. Going back into an environment that you relate to your addiction can be challenging and triggering. Having the ability to go to and from your recovery center for services allows you to hold yourself accountable while also understanding that recovery is hard and the urges will be there. Having somewhere that you feel safe going back to will be essential in your recovery.

For some, though, going into outpatient care does not come as a result of finishing inpatient treatment and is the first step that someone takes in their path to recovery. Typically outpatient services are more affordable while still offering professional and good quality treatment. 

Suppose you can’t stop working altogether or don’t have the ability to have your children watched for weeks. In that case, outpatient allows you to take the time to better yourself while also allowing you to maintain everything you need at home. We want you to succeed in all aspects of life, and these services may help you achieve your goals!  

Preparing For Departure From Inpatient

If you are coming to the end of your stay at an inpatient treatment facility, you might still feel like you aren’t ready to dive back into normalcy. Having somewhat of a buffer between leaving the facility and being on your own can help you build better habits with the help of counselors and psychologists. 

This kind of treatment is less time-consuming than inpatient, but you should still expect to see somewhat of a schedule and have a time commitment to it. Sometimes you can reach between 10-15 hours a week spent at the facility, not including time traveled to get there. 

Outpatient treatment does not offer 24-hour support and assistance, so you must have other people, whether a trusted loved one or a sponsor, available to you when you need help. Being monitored closely to having free will is sometimes enough to trigger a relapse, so outpatient helps monitor your progress and sobriety. 

Starting Off With Outpatient Care

If you have finally decided to seek help with your addiction, outpatient care can help by providing monitored detoxification, group and individual therapy sessions, and planning. 

You might be nervous to show up, but you take a step towards your recovery each day that you do. Outpatient care staff are trained professionals who show up every day to help you throughout your recovery, so take advantage of all the support you can get from us!

What To Expect

When you begin the outpatient treatment, you learn ways to cope with your addiction. We know that we are sending you back off into the community at the end of our sessions, where we can’t keep an eye on you. Outpatient services often offer various learning opportunities surrounding addiction, relapsing, coping mechanisms, and more so that you are better equipped to be on your own afterward.

With outpatient services, you can maintain your normal lifestyle of spending time with your family, attending work or going to school. You can learn ways to incorporate what you’ve learned at outpatient into your everyday life in what some might feel is a more organic way. You are never entirely taken out of your life and placed in a facility. Therefore you still have to take care of your everyday obligations. 

With outpatient services, you should also accept early mornings or late nights. Many of the meetings and events will happen at “off” times to accommodate work and school schedules. Staying committed and having the support of those around you can help you to be successful throughout your outpatient services

Comparing the Two

With both outpatient and inpatient services, you will find personal advantages and disadvantages that you may find. It’s good to understand how they compare so you can figure out which service will benefit you most. 

Of course, speaking to a professional who works at one of these recovery centers, like Soba Recovery Centers, is another way for you to gauge if inpatient or outpatient treatment is right for you.


There are many advantages to both inpatient and outpatient, but if you are someone who likes to see it spelled out clearly in a listicle, this is for you:

Inpatient Treatment

  • 24-hour professional assistance.
  • Set a schedule for activities and sessions.
  • Ability to see your family and speak to them frequently.
  • Personalized treatment that can be monitored.

Outpatient Treatment

  • Less of a time commitment.
  • Can be more affordable.
  • Ability to stay at home and work while in treatment.
  • Teaches coping and integration through your current experiences.


Like all services, you might find that some advantages are disadvantages, and that’s okay. You must do what’s best for you, so understanding what you want from your treatment can help to make that decision easier. 

Inpatient Treatment

  • Being away from your family and friends for long periods.
  • Explaining your absence to your employer, which can be very stressful.
  • It can become expensive.
  • Often encourages outpatient treatment services after the fact to help with transitioning back to normalcy.

Outpatient Treatment

  • You have times where you aren’t being monitored, which can cause anxiety for some.
  • Your home life might not be helpful in your recovery as it could be triggering.

Get Help At Soba Recovery

The first step towards recovery is asking for help. We know how hard it can be to get there, and we here at Soba Recovery Centers want to ensure that we make it as easy as possible for you to get the help you deserve.

We offer inpatient services and intensive outpatient and outpatient services in San Antonio, TX, and Mesa, AZ. Our staff are trained professionals who want to help you, so don’t be afraid to give us a call with any questions.

No matter which services you end up taking part in at Soba, you can feel good knowing you’re in the right hands.



Effectiveness and Cost-effectiveness of Four Treatment Modalities for Substance Disorders: A Propensity Score Analysis | NCBI

Types of Treatment Programs | National Institute on Drug Abuse

Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence | NCBI

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain?

People who use heroin know of the effects that this opiate has throughout the body, but the effects on their brains might not be so well understood. 

Heroin is a central nervous system depressant that, when snorted, injected, or smoked, enters the body and attaches itself to opioid receptors that work to alter your brain’s reward system. You might get a rush of euphoria when you first use heroin, as it attaches to cells that impact pleasure and pain.

This Schedule 1 drug is highly addictive, and while it gives you many short-term physical side effects, it also has a long-lasting impact on your brain’s chemistry and ability to function.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid that is created when morphine is taken from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. This drug needs a warmer climate to thrive in, so it’s often grown in places like Colombia, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia. 

Heroin can look like a white or brown powder, or it can be black and sticky, which is known as black tar heroin. No matter the kind or form of heroin you find, it will have lasting effects that are hazardous to the longevity of your life.

Signs of Heroin Use

It’s easy to tell whenever someone isn’t really acting like themselves. If you suspect that a loved one might be using a drug like heroin, there are some signs that you could look at. 

Often it is hard for someone who uses heroin to speak up about their struggles because, 1. they might not necessarily want to stop using, and 2. It can be extremely scary to admit that you need help.

If you notice some of the following signs, it might be time to talk to them about what you can do to support them:

  • Depression and euphoria; severe mood swings
  • Hostility, agitation, restlessness, and irritability towards others
  • Possession of burned tools, like needles, spoons, and syringes
  • Missing shoelaces or belts
  • Wearing long pants and shirts during warmer weather
  • Extreme itching and scabbing of the skin
  • Chills, goosebumps, or sweats
  • Regular nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Track marks on their arms and legs

How Heroin Affects Your Brain

Your brain naturally produces and releases opioid chemicals that help to relieve pain. They aren’t going to be strong enough to help stop chronic pains but these bursts of opioid chemicals when you’re in pain help to take some of the discomforts away. 

Heroin is the stronger version of these opioid neurotransmitters. When it binds to these receptors, it releases a surge of dopamine that helps to calm you and make you feel better. 

Once your brain has gotten a slight taste for this influx of happiness, it becomes harder for your brain to release natural opioid chemicals, making it essential (to your brain) that you consume more drugs to achieve this feeling again.

Short-Term Effects

Shortly after using heroin, the main thing you will notice is how you physically feel. You may feel warmth under your skin or heavy in your arms and legs. Some short-term effects of heroin on your brain are:

  • Drowsiness and fogged memory: For several hours after using, you might be quite drowsy and tired. You might also struggle with some mental clearness which can feel like brain fog.
  • Slowed breathing: This change in respiration can be extremely dangerous, as if there is a lack of oxygen getting to the brain, it could lead to severe brain damage.
  • Depletes attention: Constant usage of heroin can easily lead you to be very inattentive. You might struggle with paying attention or participating in conversations as you cannot listen to what they are saying.
  • Confusion: When you use heroin, you won’t be coherent. It might be difficult to converse with others, and you might not understand what is happening.  

Long-Term Effects

When you use heroin for a long period of time, it eventually begins to take a toll on your overall well-being. 

Long-term effects of heroin include: 

  • Blood clots
  • Lung infections like tuberculosis or pneumonia
  • Collapsed veins and abscesses
  • Damage to the blood vessels that lead to the liver, lungs, and kidneys
  • Infectious diseases such as hepatitis or HIV
  • Fatal overdose

Issues in the brain and cognition can also be a long-term effect of heroin abuse. Lasting effects on your brain of using heroin are:

  • Cognitive impairment: When you have used heroin long-term, harmful proteins begin to build up inside the brain.
    Heroin use creates inflammation in the brain which can cause structural changes that will cause you to experience mental decline, memory loss, confusion, and personality changes similar to those in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Deteriorates white matter: White matter, which is essential in communication between the brain and spinal cord, starts to deteriorate when you use heroin for extended periods of time.
    This then impacts your memory and focus negatively and can make things a lot harder to function. Less white matter in your brain can make regulating your emotions, behavior, and stress very difficult.
  • Long-term imbalances: The physical shape of your brain will alter with long-term heroin use. This throws off many functioning systems in your body. Neurological imbalance can cause strokes, infections, dementia, and seizures. 
  • Respiratory suppression: This is when your brain is not getting enough oxygen, leading to brain damage

Treatment For Heroin Overdose

There are ways to help you and your loved one in the case of an overdose. Understanding how to react when an overdose is happening around you could help save a life. 

Having Naloxone, an opioid receptor antagonist medication that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose. Narcan is fast-acting and works by binding to opioid receptors in your brain, preventing heroin from activating them.

Narcan is great to have, but heroin addiction treatment is going to be what truly saves you. Getting help at a recovery center will provide you with the best treatment and set you up for success further down the line of your recovery. 

Getting Help At Soba Recovery

If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin addiction, you are not alone. You must know that there are ways for you to get help. Soba Recovery Centers, located in Mesa, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas, are here to make things easier. 

The hardest step in your recovery is going to be the one where you ask for help. 

Soba Recovery offers many different addiction treatment programs and services for every kind of individual. Our treatment is meant to be personalized to you and your substance use to make sure you get the help you need. 

Everyone deals with their substance use differently, so it makes sense that treatments for people will vary. We work with you to provide the best treatment possible for you, so if you need to ask a few questions first, just reach out to a Soba representative!

We offer inpatient and outpatient services for our patients at Soba Recovery. You are welcome to stay with us for as long as you need at our inpatient to become a healthier you and those who struggle with using heroin. It can be difficult to deal with the effects of withdrawal, and we offer detoxification services so that you don’t have to go through it alone. 

Getting help can mean you have a chance at living the life that you deserve. 



Heroin Drugfacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse

How Does Heroin Affect The Brain?: Heroin’s Effects On The Mind | American Addiction Centers

Brain White Matter Integrity In Heroin Addicts During Methadone Maintenance Treatment Is Related To Relapse Propensity | NCBI