PTSD as an Addiction

PTSD hauntedPost Traumatic Stress Disorder (ICD-10):  Exposure to a stressful event or situation (either short or long-lasting) of exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature, which is likely to cause pervasive distress in almost anyone.


  • persistent remembering or “reliving” the stressor,
  • actual or preferred avoidance of circumstances resembling or associated with the stressor,
  • and either inability to recall important aspects related to the period of exposure to the stressor or persistent symptoms of increased psychological sensitivity and arousal (not present prior to stressor) shown by any two of the following:  difficulty in falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty in concentrating, hyper-vigilance, exaggerated startle response.

The brain- body network has an amazing program built-in for protection and survival.  It kicks hormones into gear to deal with negative stress or stress from perceived or imminent danger of harm. The program stops us in our tracks (freeze) to assess the situation and then ignites all systems (if needed) for fight/flight.  In everyday situations, when the danger is past, all systems return to normal.

With PTSD, that recovery and return to a normal state does not occur. The memory of the trauma keeps all systems in a state of alertness, ready to move at a moments notice.

One of my teachers, Dr. Svetlana Masgutova, has found a new way to look at this that others working with PTSD have not yet considered. From her many years of experience, research and looking at the neurophysiological effects of PTSD, she sees that there is an addictive component to PTSD.  However, the “addiction” in PTSD is different from other types of addiction.

Alcoholics: Someone may become addicted to alcohol after they have a traumatic experience.  If they truly want to stop their addiction, they can work to heal that experience, stop drinking and the addiction.  However if they want to keep drinking alcohol, they have and are making a choice to drink and choose to remain an alcoholic.

Drug addiction: a person experiences a drug two times and by the third time, it has them addicted (vs. choice).  But, because they are ingesting a drug, if they are really willing and ready to give it up – they can work on it and get results to release them from the addiction.

Now, when we look at PTSD and addiction, it is a whole different story.  It is not our habit or nature to suffer or to review past memory over and over.  Extreme trauma can set this in motion.

The chronic addiction is based on what happens within the body on a biochemical level in response to repeated extreme stress (current or re-experienced memories).  Each time the memory is triggered by an external stimulation or event, the chemistry increases to that heightened state to activate automatic survival (reflex) responses.  This state can become Anchored in the body as the new “normal”.  Those with PTSD become dependent on that chemistry cycling at a high rate so they can be quick to act, protect and survive.

Senses stay hyper-vigilant and you are not able to relax.  Anxiety is constant as you wait for the next trigger event.  Overall health starts to decline because your body was not meant to have this level of hormones constantly going.   This way of being  becomes a “chronic means” to feel stressed in order ‘to continue to live’.   This is not normal for a body and is highly destructive to all systems in the body.  This is the element of ADDICTION in PTSD.  When a person is in that state of not being able to move forward, they have “disorder”.

Dr. Masgutova has developed protocols for intervention for PTSD.  The MNRI Method protocols work at the level of your body and are different from anything you have tried before.  Intervention is aimed at the restoration of the “shocked” protection and survival reflex mechanisms.  This is the key for making the actual difference in surviving and healing from stress trauma.

It does not involve re-living the experience or exposure to your fear.  It does not involve a lot of talking (well maybe a little, more if you want to).  What it does involve is me, working with you and your body (fully clothed), and you wanting things to change.

You have survived the trauma.  You can Heal and move on with your life.  Contact me today to break the addictive cycle of PTSD to help you return to who you were born to be – feeling safe, happy and full of life.