Trauma and Neurological Risks of Addiction

Dessa Bergen-Cico, Sarah Wolf-Stanton, Radmila Filipovic, Jordyn Weisberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter focuses on the biological and psychological relationships between traumatic stress and substance use. Traumatic stress and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affect individuals physiologically as well as psychologically. Traumatic events occur throughout the life cycle and can predispose people to the risk of developing substance use disorders stemming from neurological, cognitive, and emotional stressors. Anxiety and hypervigilance are key symptoms of traumatic stress that foster drug-seeking behavior, because substance use can suppress cognitive functions and sympathetic nervous system arousal, whereby the use of alcohol and other drugs temporarily ameliorates PTSD symptoms. Traumatic stress also affects the endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling system within the stress-sensitive cells in the hypothalamus and amygdala, thus pointing to the significance of the eCB system in the regulation of neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to stress. Cannabis also affects the eCB system, and the use of cannabis may provide temporary relief of PTSD symptoms. The high prevalence of cannabis use among persons with PTSD is quite probably due to the benefits they experience in relation to dampening of PTSD symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFoundations of Understanding, Tobacco, Alcohol, Cannabinoids and Opioids
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780128003763
ISBN (Print)9780128002131
StatePublished - Mar 23 2016


  • Addiction
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Substance use
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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