PTSD And Alcohol Abuse Are Connected

Those with Post Traumatic Stress disorder have an increased likelihood of having an alcohol abuse disorder. Up to 40 percent of people who have PTSD likely abuse alcohol as well. When not treated properly, those who have PTSD can use alcohol and other drugs to “self medicate”. This means people who suffer from PTSD use alcohol and other drugs to attempt to deal with the symptoms of PTSD. 

But self medication is often false hope, and alcohol and drugs can often make the problem worse. There are far better treatment options now for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as alcoholism. Both of these diseases are treatable, and with care, almost everyone can get better. 

Although PTSD can happen to anyone who has survived a traumatic experience— experiences “outside of normal human experience” by definition— this most often includes veterans who have experienced combat and have undertaken combat related duties. As many as 20 percent of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have post traumatic stress disorder. 

If you or one of your loved ones displays symptoms of PTSD or alcoholism, it might be time to speak with a professional. At Midwood Addiction and Treatment, we can help with a number of services. Below, we’ve made a short list of symptoms and treatments for each disorder, which unfortunately go hand in hand. 

Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD are wide and varied, but include: 

  • Reexperiencing of the traumatic event
    • Flashbacks 
    • Nightmares 
    • Unwanted and repeated intrusions of images
    • Physical symptoms of pain, nausea, anxiety, etc
  • Avoidance
    • Avoiding certain places, situations or people who remind the sufferer of the traumatic experience 
    • Isolation 
    • “Emotional Numbing” or trying not to feel anything at all 
    • Distraction from feelings 
  • Hyperarousal 
    • Feeling always “on edge” 
    • Anxiety 
    • Finding it hard to relax 
    • Anger 
    • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mental And Physical Problems 
    • Insomnia 
    • Depression, anxiety, or anger 
    • Drug and alcohol abuse

Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse And Addiction

Symptoms of alcohol abuse and addiction include: 

  • Inability to control alcohol use 
    • Drinking even when one says they won’t 
    • Wanting to stop drinking and not being able to 
    • Consuming more alcohol than one wanted 
    • Drinking at inappropriate locations or in inappropriate situations 
  • Alcohol use that affects other areas of the drinker’s life
    • Alcohol use that affects performance and attendance at school and work 
    • Losing interest in activities the drinker once enjoyed in favor of drinking 
    • Alcohol use that negatively affects the health of the drinker
    • Thinking about drinking to an unusual or pathological degree 
    • Risky behavior when drinking such as drunk driving and unprotected sex
    • Hangovers at inappropriate times
  • Physical effects of alcohol use
    • Drinking to blackout
    • Tolerance— having to drink more to have the same effects 
    • Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, including shaking, sweating

Treatment For PTSD

As mentioned above, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is absolutely treatable. With the right treatment the vast majority of people can go back to leading normal, healthy lives. PTSD is primarily treated in two ways: with psychotherapy (talk therapy), and with psychoactive drugs. 

Psychotherapy can include talk therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where the sufferer is taught new ways to deal with stress and symptoms; Exposure therapy, where the sufferer is helped to work through traumatic memories and situations; and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), where the sufferer is taught to process traumatic memories with the help of eye movements. People with PTSD can also benefit from things such as group therapy and support groups.  

Medications can include antidepressants, which can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety; anti-anxiety medications, which help with the symptoms of acute anxiety; and Prazosin, which can help with nightmares. 

Treatment For Alcoholism and Addiction

Treatment for alcohol addiction is wide and varied, depending on a number of factors and the severity of the disease. Treatments include: 

  • Initial detoxification
  • Talk therapy
    • Counseling 
    • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
    • Learning new coping mechanisms
    • Treatment goals
  • Medications
    • Disulfiram (makes the user feel sick when drinking) 
    • Naltrexone (reduces the urge to drink) 
    • Vivitrol (injected version of Naltrexone)
    • Acamprosate (reduces cravings) 
  • Treatment for associated issues, such as
    • Childhood trauma 
    • PTSD
    • Depression 
    • Anxiety
  • Support Groups
    • Alcoholics Anonymous
    • Life Ring 
    • Sober Recovery 
    • Celebrate Recovery
    • Rational Recovery

There is no one right way to treat alcoholism, and many patients find it useful to think about solutions and a treatment plan that may be a good fit for them. Sometimes a few methods must be tried before finding the right combination for the individual addict.  

Midwood Addiction Treatment Can Help

If you are, or think you are, suffering from alcoholism and/or PTSD, we can help at Midwood Addiction and Treatment Center. Feel free to give us a call at (888) 628-1110 and we can help to put you or your loved one on the road to a safer, healthier life without alcohol. 

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