Impact of PTSD and Substance Abuse on African-American Females Term Paper

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¶ … PTSD and Substance Abuse on African-American females

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder refers to a psychological disorder caused by experiences that are threatening in nature. These experiences make the victims of PTSD undergo psychological, biological changes besides impairing the victim's ability of function properly in life.


PTSD studies have revealed that African-Americans are associated with low rates of substance use disorders. However, some researchers have indicated that African-Americans have higher rates of disorders related to anxiety. Regarding PTSD, existing studies have shown that African-Americans have higher rates compared to European-Americans. In 2010, at least twenty percent of African-Americans have PTSD compared to European-Americans' fourteen percent. A comparison between African-Americans and European-Americans reveals that the African-American group has higher rates of PTSD. Other studies show that the victims depicted delayed signs and symptoms of PTSD (Alcantara & Gone, 2007).

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The above differences in the prevalence of PTSD are associated to a variety of socioeconomic and cultural phenomenon. Currently, African-American women living in regions of Australia and Iceland have been reported to have the lowest rates of PTSD. In Iceland, the prevalence is 0.6% while, in Australia, the rate is slightly high with 1.5&. This comes after the revelation that African-American women in developed countries have lower rates of PTSD than those in the developing nations. The harsh economic and political conditions have led to the high prevalence of PTSD in developing countries (Adams & Boscarino, 2006).


The development of PTSD in African-American women has been linked to the following factors:

I. Combat experiences

II. Experience with natural disasters including airplane crashes, tornados, floods, fires and earthquake

TOPIC: Term Paper on Impact of PTSD and Substance Abuse on African-American Females Assignment

III. Witnessing or experiences with violent crimes

IV. Accidents that threaten life such as airplane crashes, boating accidents or automobile accidents

V. Attacks from terrorists

VI. Sexual, physical or emotional abuse

African-American females diagnosed with symptoms of PTSD through experiences such as mobbing and bullying. It is estimated that twenty-five of African-American females exposed to physical or mental violence experience PTSD. Researchers have indicated that the risks of PTSD among African-American females may be increased if they interact with incidences of abuse (Marsella, Friedman & Scurfield, 2002).


African-American women with PTSD have been reported to use less metal health services: European-Americans are associated with higher use of mental health services. Further, African-American women suffering from PTSD have reported higher rates of dropouts in psychotherapy sessions (Howard, Walker, Suchinsky & Anderson, 2006).

African-American women have used a variety of medication in an effort to reduce the symptoms of PTSD: this is because PTSD does not have a clear treatment drug. African-American women who show positive symptoms such as re-experiences respond positively than those with negative symptoms such as withdrawal. Research indicates that hydrocortisone treatment after a traumatic incident is likely to reduce the chances of suffering from PTSD (Gelso, & Fretz, 2001). Other researchers are of the opinion that if propranolol is given to the victim immediately after 6 hours of the traumatic act, it will decrease the likelihood of remembering the traumatic event. Despite the above research findings, there is no evidence indicating that PTSD can be prevented by medication. Therefore, African-American women with PTSD have not received any routine medication (Allen, 1996).

However, African-American women with PTSD prefer to utilize health assistance services offered by the community such as churches. Research indicates that they prefer informal-based sources of mental assistance rather than therapy by professionals. African-American women with PTSD are currently using the services of behavioral therapy in dealing with the impacts of PTSD. Further, they have adopted services such as VA even though with poor attendance and leaving treatment earlier. Research findings have shown that African-American women with PTSD have underutilized the services of mental health: their stigma reflects that they have low rates of stigma in utilizing mental health services (Adams & Boscarino, 2005).


African-American females with PTSD do not automatically experience problems of drug use. However, substance abuse and PTSD can result into dangerous problems for victims of PTSD as well as their family members. PTSD and substance abuse often occur at the same time: African-American female with PTSD have higher chances of engaging in substance abuse either after diagnosis or even before diagnosis. Similarly, African-American females with drug disorders have been reported to have PTSD too (Kendall-Tackett, 2009).

25-75% of African-American females with PTSD have been reported to have problems of drug abuse.

10-33% of African-American females with PTSD have been reported to have high chances of developing alcohol consumption disorder.

60-80% of African-American females with PTSD have drug use disorders.

African-American females aged 65 years with PTSD have been reported to show high chances of suicidal attempts whenever they experience depression.

Substance abuse often disrupts relationships and leads to trauma: African-American females with drug use disorders have high chances of experiencing psychological trauma. In addition, reports indicate that this category of people has shown to have a problem with intimacy and conflict in relationships (Kessler, Mickelson & Williams, 2009).

African-American females who have undergone traumatic events show high chances of using alcohol despite the fact that they might not have PTSD.

African-American females with drug used disorders show increased signs that they have experienced sexual abuse in their life.

African-American females with drug use disorders have chaotic lifestyles, which causes a reduction of their emotional closeness, reduction in parenting ability and an increase in family conflict.

Finally, African-American females who have reported to be abused sexually show high chances of drug use disorders.

Substance abuse worsens the symptoms of PTSD: African-American females with PTSD who engage in substance abuse experience reduced concentration, a decrease in the ability to enjoy life, lack of ability to cope with stress and trauma as well as reduced ability of sleeping restfully. African-American females with PTSD who intoxicate themselves by abusing alcohol have increased emotional numbness; socially isolate themselves, increased depression, irritability and anger, as well feeling that they need to be on guard (Adams & Boscarino, 2005).

Substance abuse decreases the effectiveness of treating PTSD in African-American females.

African-American females diagnosed with PTSD and substance abuse tend to be binge drinkers. This may be due to re-experiences with reminders of the traumatic event.

African-American females with PTSD always experience troubles when trying to fall asleep. When they experience sleeping problems, they tend to resort to alcohol as the only self-medication. However, alcohol may be beneficial in some way, but it may exacerbate a new problem.

Substance abuse by African-American females with PPTSD decreases the chances of experiencing frightening nightmares. However, when they withdraw from substance abuse, they experience increased nightmares.

African-American females with combined PTSD and substance abuse have physical and mental health problems. Most of them have shown to have the following dangerous disorders:

Disorders associated with anxiety: this includes phobias, panic, compulsions and incapacitating.

Disorders related to mood swings: they include dysthymic disorder and complicated depressions.

Behaviors that are disruptive in nature: disorders of being antisocial and lack of attention.

Disorders of addiction: this includes abuse or addiction of prescribed or street drugs.

Serious physical illness: such as heart diseases, chronic liver disease and diabetes.

Serious physical pain: this may be because of illness or physical injury without a clear physical cause.

The above discussion suggests that while giving PTSD to African-American females, it is necessary to first address substance abuse problems. When substance abuse becomes a problem accompanying another problem: PTSD, victims are advised to obtain treatment from PTSD professionals. These specialists are experienced in providing treatment to additive disorders (Kendall-Tackett, 2009). While seeking for treatment, African-American females with PTSD bare advised to take several precautions related to substance abuses:

They should provide any information related to their past and current experiences with drug and alcohol use.

While seeking for treatment, professional offering treatment should provide the victims with information about the must of substance… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Impact of PTSD and Substance Abuse on African-American Females.  (2012, November 9).  Retrieved October 22, 2021, from

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"Impact of PTSD and Substance Abuse on African-American Females."  9 November 2012.  Web.  22 October 2021. <>.

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"Impact of PTSD and Substance Abuse on African-American Females."  November 9, 2012.  Accessed October 22, 2021.