Truama And Relapse

Truama And Relapse

Research shows exposure to traumatic events increases the risk of drug or alcohol abuse. It can also cause relapse among those in recovery.

September 29, 2016


Between December 2002 and April 2003, the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services conducted a study of the impact of 9/11 on New York City drug treatment programs.

Researchers interviewed 75 patients and 16 administrators spanning 15 rehab centers. These facilities included methadone treatment, drug-free outpatient programs and residential programs in or around New York City. The purpose of the study was to identify problems rehab centers encountered after the attacks in order to prepare for future tragedies.

The results showed that relapse was a problem for treatment centers in the aftermath of the tragedies.

  • Fifty percent of patients in outpatient treatment and 37 percent of methadone patients used illicit drugs on or after 9/11.
  • Sixty-three percent of methadone patients were prescribed medications for anxiety, sleeping problems and other mental health problems.
  • Methadone dosages increased for 6 percent of patients. These individuals relapsed, considered using drugs or experienced anxiety and fear.
  • Nearly 30 percent of patients reported an increase in alcohol consumption after the events.

Men, individuals in outpatient care and patients with a history of mental illness were most at risk for reusing drugs or alcohol. More than half of patients attributed these issues to events on or following Sept. 11.

Many clinicians and addiction experts say stress is the most common trigger for relapse. Patients with PTSD are more prone to relapse than those without the disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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