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PTSD often underlying in patients with addiction
GPs are being urged to screen for trauma in patients with drug and alcohol addictions after recent research revealed that 80% of patients with substance use disorders had experienced trauma.
New figures, from a study of 304 patients admitted to a Sydney detoxification unit over a nine month period, revealed that 45% of patients being treated for drug and alcohol addiction have active post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Rates of trauma exposure among this group were significantly higher than the general Australian population.
For example, 51% had been seriously physically attacked or assaulted, compared to 10% in the general population and 24% had been raped (vs 3%) in the general population.
Sydney psychiatrist and head of clinical services at South Pacific Private Hospital, Dr Ben Teoh, said that treating trauma and addiction simultaneously was complex.
“PTSD is often misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed,” he said.
“If a GP is not aware of an underlying trauma they will sometimes treat an addiction patient with anti-depressants or benzodiazepines, which can be detrimental. They need to decide whether addiction or PTSD is the primarily problem,” he said.
Drug and Alcohol Rev 2011: 31:249-302
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