How Do I Know If I Have PTSD? Understanding Dual Diagnosis with Substance Abuse

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Many of us live with trauma, or the emotional response to an overwhelming event. Unhealed trauma harms us emotionally, and it also inhibits our access to the joy, wellness, and the emotional freedom we deserve.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a harrowing condition that often intertwines with substance abuse, creating a complex dual diagnosis. If you’re asking yourself, “how do I know if I have PTSD?” our experienced and compassionate team at The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center can help you find out.

How to Know if You Have PTSD

If you’re experiencing extreme emotions or flashbacks that are interfering with your everyday life, especially after experiencing a traumatic event, you’re probably looking for clarity around what’s happening. Maybe you’ve taken a “Do I have PTSD?” quiz online or read articles on PTSD, but you’re still not sure whether you’re suffering from it.


The truth is, everyone is different. Experiencing a traumatic event can prompt a range of reactions, and not all of them indicate PTSD. A true assessment of your condition requires a one-on-one dialogue with an understanding, caring mental health professional. However, there are some common signs and symptoms of PTSD that may be indicators. 

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

As mentioned, PTSD manifests differently in each individual. Common symptoms include:

  • Re-experiencing Trauma: This involves flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts.
  • Avoidance: Individuals may avoid people, places, or activities that remind them of the trauma.
  • Negative Changes in Moods and Thoughts: Feelings of hopelessness, memory problems, and detachment from loved ones are common.
  • Heightened Anxiety: Feeling agitation that wasn’t present before the trauma.
  • Hyperarousal: This includes being easily startled, feeling tense, and having difficulty sleeping.

The Link Between PTSD and Substance Abuse

Many individuals with PTSD may turn to alcohol or drugs as a form of self-medication, attempting to alleviate the distressing symptoms of their condition. This can manifest into a destructive cycle where substance use worsens PTSD symptoms, leading to a “dual diagnosis,” or the identification of a coexisting mental health disorder, like PTSD, combined with another condition, such as substance abuse. 


The Self-Medication Hypothesis

This hypothesis suggests that people with PTSD use substances to cope with their symptoms. While this may provide temporary relief, it often leads to dependency and exacerbates mental health issues in the long run.

Dual Diagnosis: PTSD and Addiction

This combination poses impossibly challenging outcomes that can ruin lives, relationships, and personal security.  Dealing with two mental health conditions simultaneously can also be potentially problematic in treatment, such as:

  • Interconnected Symptoms: PTSD and substance abuse symptoms can overlap. This can make it difficult to distinguish between the two.
  • Treatment Resistance: Substance abuse can hinder the effectiveness of PTSD treatment.
  • Complex Recovery Needs: Addressing both PTSD and addiction requires a comprehensive and integrated approach.
Treatment Approaches for PTSD

Treatment Approaches for PTSD & Dual Diagnosis

Now that we’ve reviewed some of the potential challenges PTSD poses, let’s take a look at dual diagnosis treatment, which involves a multi-faceted approach.

Integrated Treatment

Integrated treatment plans offer the best outcomes. They include:

  • Therapy: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and evidence-based therapies are effective for treating PTSD.
  • Alternative Therapies: When you seek treatment at The Ohana, you have a wealth of alternative healing solutions such as adventure therapy, cultural experiences, holistic therapies, and more.
  • Medication Management: Medications may be used to treat PTSD symptoms and manage withdrawal symptoms from substance abuse.
  • Support Groups: Peer support plays a vital role in recovery from both PTSD and addiction.
  • Holistic Approaches: Practices like mindfulness, yoga, and art therapy can complement traditional treatments.

When to Seek Help for PTSD and Substance Use Disorders

If you’re asking yourself, “Do I have PTSD?” then it’s critical to recognize when to seek help – especially if you are simultaneously struggling with a substance use disorder. It’s time to reach out if:

  • Symptoms Persist or Worsen: If symptoms of PTSD or substance use are not improving or are intensifying, it’s crucial to seek professional help.
  • Impact on Daily Life: When these issues start to significantly impact work, relationships, or daily activities.
  • Unsafe Behavior: Engaging in risky or harmful behavior to oneself or others.
  • Feeling Overwhelmed: If the emotional burden feels too heavy to bear alone or coping mechanisms fail.

Do You Have PTSD? Find Hope and Healing at The Ohana

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very real condition. If you’re reading this and wondering, “How do I know if I have PTSD?” The Ohana can help you find answers.


You don’t have to tolerate the fears, tension, or torment of past trauma. We understand what you’re going through.  Contact us today, and let us show you how, together, we can forge the way to freedom from PTSD.

Ready to Get Your Recovery Journey Started? Contact us Today!

More to explorer

According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study published in 2023, scientists combed through genomic data of over one million people and identified genes
According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study published in 2023, scientists combed through genomic data of over one million people and identified genes
According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study published in 2023, scientists combed through genomic data of over one million people and identified genes

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