Does Living With An Addict Cause Ptsd

Does Living with an Addict Cause PTSD?

You know how addiction affects an individual. You may have witnessed it personally, from other loved ones, or from other sources. Still, the outpouring efforts of a loved one to an addict are all out. Although you may show your full support towards them, you also need to consider what you might be going through while living under the same roof.

Close-up Of Male Soldier In Military Uniform Holding Wooden Cubes With PTSD Text
.Image Credits: Andrey Popov

Living with an addict can be tough. You have seen all their downtimes, their hardships, and their struggles while they are suffering from their condition. You may have also experienced some part of their aggression, the abrupt release of impulse, or other behaviors that are caused by addiction.

Drugs have an effect on the mental health of an addict. However, living with an addict may also affect your mental health one way or another.

Does Living with an Addict Cause PTSD?

PTSD is a more common mental health disorder among our soldiers; most especially, for those who experienced war or any traumatizing event. However, individuals living with an addict also have the possibility of developing this condition

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that develops among people who have encountered any event that may cause trauma. For example, scary, shocking, or dangerous events. Naturally, fear causes the body to quickly react upon certain situations such as if the body feels danger or harm.

Normally, the body also rapidly recovers from slight reactions to trauma. However, as the body continues to experience trauma, the individual may develop signs and symptoms of PTSD.

How Can Living with an Addict Cause PTSD

PTSD affects everybody regardless of age or gender. However, according to the National Center for PTSD, the highest age group who develops PTSD is from the ages 18-29 years old. To add, the majority of teen PTSD cases are caused by child abuse and sexual abuse.

Although not all teen PTSD cases are caused by the abuse of an addict, there are still other traumatic events caused when living with an addict. For instance, the abrupt death of an addict due to drug overdose may also contribute to the trauma and cause PTSD.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

People with PTSD would often relate simple situations to the trauma that they have experienced; in this case, the trauma caused by living with an addict. Thus, this would often cause them to feel cautious, stressed, or afraid even if they are not in danger. Even small reminders of a traumatic event, depending on the severity of the trauma, may already affect their everyday function.

However, an individual can only be diagnosed with PTSD if they have at least 1 month of its symptoms. To add, this must also be severe enough to affect an individual’s relationship or work.

A psychiatrist or psychologist can diagnose PTSD if an individual has the following signs and symptoms for at least one month:

1. Memory intrusion

This is more than just having to remember a traumatic event. Memory intrusion is the repeating involuntary remembrance of the mind to the trauma. These are such as the following:

  1. Bad dreams
  2. Random flashbacks
  3. Upsetting thoughts
Image Credits: Renée C. Byer

Repeated flashbacks are often clear enough for the person to feel the reality of a past memory. To add, this causes them to have other physical symptoms like rapid heartbeats and/or sweating. This, at first, can be triggered by a person’s own thoughts and feelings. Over time, certain words, objects, or events may also be a trigger to memory intrusion.  

2. Avoidance

To avoid remembering the trauma, people with PTSD notably stay away from events, places, or things that may trigger their memories. Other than physical objects, an individual may also avoid situations that may lead them to have a similar feeling in relation to the trauma. For instance, you may notice a person with PTSD may usually avoid conversing about the trauma which they experienced.

avoid remembering the trauma

Some people with PTSD are affected based on the change of their natural behavior and practice. For instance, a person from sexual abuse, who used to regularly hang out with friends, would now rather stay home alone than go outside.

3. Rapid Mood Changes

It is noticeable with people with PTSD can be easily startled or noticeably tense in some situations related to the trauma. As I have stated earlier, this contributes to their feeling of anxiety and fear even if they are not in danger.

Angry millennial couple arguing shouting blaming each other of problem, frustrated husband and annoyed wife quarreling about bad marriage relationships, unhappy young family fighting at home concept
Image Credits: Fizkes

This affects them by making their moods unstable, having a more irritable or stressed feeling. Furthermore, having this kind of paranoia gives them sleeping problems, harder to focus on daily tasks, or even eating.

4. Negative Thinking

Trauma affects more than disallowing them to do their routine tasks. People with PTSD tend to change their previous perspectives and beliefs following the trauma.

Negative Thinking

Certain traumas may change the way how they think upon themselves. For instance, a teen growing up from abuse may think that it is his or her fault why he or she receives violence from an addicted parent.

In addition, other symptoms of people with PTSD are:

  1. The inability to be happy.
  2. Inability to remember key events of the trauma.

They also have a tendency to have a feeling of detachment from friends or family. To add, another thing observable is their loss of enjoyment from their previous activities or the inability to feel positive emotions.


There is a risk of developing PTSD when you are living with an addict. However, there is a notable increase in the risk if the individual experiences violence or abuse from an addict.

We should also take note that not all addicts have the tendency to hurt nor be aggressive. Still, we should treat them with care, support, and respect. However, the best way to also take care of them is to take care of yourself first. Take note that prevention is still better than cure.

Like other mental disorders, there is no definite cure for PTSD. However, treatment is never out of reach. For earlier noticeable signs and symptoms of PTSD, you should consult with a loved one, a friend or professional help.

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