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Ptsd and Drug Abuse

Autor:   •  November 5, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  3,032 Words (13 Pages)  •  892 Views

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On September 11th, 2001, the World Trade Center's twin towers, located in New York City, were attacked by terrorist driven planes, causing them to collapse. This singular event caused an immediate reaction of panic, fear, and disorder throughout the globe. This disaster, which caused an enormous number of fatalities, was witnessed live by over 100,000 people, with millions more discovering the disturbing news mere hours later (Yehuda, 2002). Thousands of deaths, along with the threat of subsequent attacks and the beginning of a possible world war, left numerous people extremely alarmed and scared for the safety of themselves and their families. Many people exposed to the attacks developed trouble coping with the repercussions and responses to the attacks. It was estimated that approximately 35% of the population directly exposed to this act of terrorism developed, or will develop, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Yehuda, 2002). An event such as the September 11th attack is a prime example of a major traumatic event in recent history that has left Americans and Canadians feeling threatened.

Events, whether a large public occurrence such as the one identified above, or an individualistic personal episode, can result in the development of PTSD. PTSD is characterized by a variety of symptoms that last for at least one month, or longer, following a traumatic event (Brady 2004). It can be defined as the trauma itself and an individual's response to that trauma. It effects the psychological, emotional, social, and physical states of the affected individual and can act as a pathway for other psychological disorders, the most common being major depressive disorder (MDD)(Van Ameringen, 2008). The purpose of this paper is to; examine PTSD and its causes, its ties to substance use/abuse in Canada, focussing on the Aboriginal population, and the reasons why traumatic events are so closely linked with substance abuse.

PTSD can occur following any type of event that can be considered traumatic to the individual. Three of the most studied types of events are war and violent acts, child abuse (physical and sexual), and accidents (primarily, but not limited to automobile, resulting in serious injury or death). It needs to be noted that what may be considered a traumatic event for one individual may not be considered traumatic to another. Each individual has different coping mechanisms and abilities allowing them to deal with situations in different ways. As a result, it would be fair to include other life altering situations as causes to trauma. These would include the loss of a loved one, the loss of employment, or the loss of financial stability.

A 2008 study performed at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, found that alcohol and substance abuse/dependence among individuals with PTSD was approximately 27%, a nearly 3 fold increase on people without the disorder (~10.8%) (Van Ameringen, 2008). When the relationship


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