Interventions for Loved Ones Struggling with Trauma and Addiction

Interventions for Loved Ones Struggling with Trauma and AddictionAddiction is a common challenge for individuals dealing with the physical and psychological stress caused by trauma. Soldiers, police, first-responders and victims of violent crime frequently demonstrate symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) including the following:

  • Flashbacks
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Nightmares and sleeplessness
  • Emotional disorders
  • Temper management problems and corresponding verbal or physical abuse
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions


In many cases individuals suffering from PTSD unconsciously self-medicate their symptoms through drug or alcohol abuse. This kind of abuse quickly leads to a full blown addiction that can cloud an individual’s ability to recognize her own need for help.

The Psychological Effects of Addiction and Trauma

The most powerful aspect of addiction is how it affects a person’s psychological health. The same part of the brain that is the most impacted by substance abuse also manages a wide range of critical emotional functions, including the following:

  • Anxiety control
  • Impulse control
  • Reinforcing behavior (forming habits)
  • Memory

Drugs and alcohol provide short lived but significant relief from PTSD’s psychological symptoms. The brain will crave this relief and will use whatever it takes to maintain it. The resulting cravings happen in a part of the brain that directs behavior much more powerfully than rational thought or willpower. In many cases, an addict’s brain will simply reject the fact that he has a problem. In some cases holding a group intervention may be the only way to get through.

How to Hold an Addiction Intervention

Any time you talk with an addict about her problem, you are technically intervening; but, most people associate the term with the kind of surprise confrontations depicted in movies and TV shows. These group interventions can be very effective, but they are quite risky. Loved ones considering such a confrontation must know the essential elements of a successful intervention, including the following:

  • Communicating your belief in the addict and committing to help him recover
  • Careful articulation of your concerns about your loved one’s disease
  • Establishing and being prepared to enforce healthy boundaries
  • Understanding the nature of PTSD and its connection to addiction
  • Knowing who to have present at the meeting
  • Being prepared for every possible outcome, including denial, anger, avoidance, emotional collapse and acceptance
  • Developing a detailed treatment plan, including transportation, financial planning and understanding insurance coverage

In many cases these interventions are best handled with a professional interventionist who can prepare loved ones in advance of the meeting and can manage the confrontation.

Help Planning or Executing an Intervention

If you are considering holding an intervention for a loved one who is affected by PTSD and addiction, we can help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline any time and our specially trained experts will answer any questions you may have. We can connect you with the best addiction recovery resources, including professional interventionists and the best rehab options for your loved one’s specific needs. You are not alone. Call today and let us help you hold a successful intervention for your loved one.

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