Can a DUI Lead to Trauma?

November 7, 2022

After receiving a DUI, you may experience a range of painful emotions. Inevitably, DUIs can be traumatic, whether or not an incident occurred during the process. Although it can take time to process this experience, once you are ready, you can use it as a motivator for change. Discover the damaging effects of DUI-related trauma and how you can begin your healing journey.

DUIs & Trauma

No matter the severity of the accident, it’s impossible to walk away from a DUI unscathed. When it comes to receiving a DUI, feelings of regret and/or guilt tend to add to the aftermath’s anxiety. Trauma can be induced by any deeply stressful event that causes continued emotional and psychological distress. It is important to remember that trauma is subjective. Of course, a DUI or car accident can contribute to trauma.

Even if no one was harmed, the remorse of a DUI and its surrounding stigma can deteriorate your mental health. Apart from increasingly severe punishments and expensive court fees, the social consequences of a DUI can worsen your grief. Mistakes were made, but these mistakes do not have to define you.

Every facet of a DUI can lead to trauma and even PTSD. What might this look like in your daily life?

Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can result from a traumatic event, including obtaining a DUI. Although discerning if you have PTSD requires a professional diagnosis, you may experience symptoms that are indicative of the condition. Some emotional and psychological symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares or flashbacks: Experiencing recurring nightmares of the event, or daytime flashbacks of the arrest
  • Avoidance of similar experiences: Constantly assessing possibly similar threats or scenarios that might remind you of the event
  • Distress at reminders of the trauma: When reminded of the event, you may experience symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, or overwhelming fear
  • Irritability or aggression: Being anxious or on edge at all times can lead to aggressive behavior
  • Social isolation: Spending increasing time by yourself and avoiding social activities
  • Severe anxiety: Frequently feeling nervous or fearful
  • Self-destructive behavior: Falling back into negative coping habits such as substance abuse or anything that can cause you emotional or physical harm

Meanwhile, some physical symptoms your body might experience that can indicate PTSD include:

  • Widespread or localized pain
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Insomnia

PTSD can be debilitating on its own. However, it’s common that other mental health issues will co-occur with PTSD. If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it is essential to seek help as soon as possible. Additionally, if you’re experiencing symptoms of other mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, or suicidal feelings, then professional help is required to facilitate long-lasting recovery.

Trauma-Focused Therapy for DUIs

While there are many therapeutic methods, trauma-based therapy may be the best option for those suffering from DUI-related trauma and PTSD. At Buena Vista Recovery, trauma-focused therapy was created to help those suffering from traumatic events. This therapeutic approach addresses how unresolved stress may worsen substance use and contribute to the development of addiction.

Trauma-focused therapy places emphasis on the influence that a traumatic event has on a person’s mental, behavioral, emotional, and physical health. Its main goal is to help you better comprehend, cope with, and process the feelings and memories associated with traumatic situations. Ultimately, this will help you create a more positive interpretation of the event that occurred.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines trauma-focused therapy as:

“A program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed:

  • Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery
  • Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system;
  • Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
  • Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.”

Healing From Trauma in Addiction Recovery

Of course, substantial progress can’t be made if a person has yet to seek recovery. If you have received a DUI and are currently struggling with a substance use addiction, inpatient rehabilitation can help you address your distress as you work to achieve sobriety. Enrolling in an addiction treatment program after a DUI arrest can address your commitment to change.

This is why, especially for first-time offenders, rehabilitation is a feasible choice in the United States. Every situation, nation, and judge is unique. Speak with your legal counsel about your alternatives and the prospects for your case if you’re interested in receiving a reduced sentence for completing a substance treatment program.

The ability to receive assistance in overcoming addiction is the greatest advantage of entering an addiction treatment program following a DUI arrest. Inpatient, outpatient, and medical detox programs are just a few of the treatment alternatives Buena Vista provides to meet the requirements of our patients. Over time, major changes have been made to treatment plans in order to give patients the greatest care.


Start your healing in a place that offers both emotional and medical care. At Buena Vista Health and Recovery Center, we are most concerned with your safety. Our strategy is straightforward: we use tailored care to make sure every person we serve is as secure and comfortable as possible. Fully equipped, our team of professionals provides addiction and mental health help to anyone struggling with a substance use disorder, PTSD, and multiple other mental illnesses. Our expertly licensed staff, clinicians, and medical personnel are some of the best in mental and behavioral health. Staff in key roles have achieved Master’s-level education and have unparalleled experience in substance abuse treatment and detox. Along with a variety of treatment programs, we can help you get your life back and heal after receiving a DUI. Contact Buena Vista Health and Recovery Center at (480) 741-9414.