Which came first: the chicken or the egg? When it comes to alcoholism and post traumatic stress disorder, one might ask the same question, as increasing bodies of research are demonstrating a clear link between the two conditions. Unfortunately, both can lead to either — making recovery tricky, but essential.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post traumatic stress disorder is often diagnosed in those who suffered a serious emotional trauma that threatened death or injury. Combat veterans, victims of rape or incest, domestic violence victims, and those who suffered traumatic injuries from car accidents or natural disasters commonly suffer from PTSD. During PTSD, the body continues releasing hormones and chemicals typically associated with stress, even though the immediate danger is no longer present.
People struggling with PTSD demonstrate one or all of three symptoms. They may constantly relive the event through nightmares, flashbacks, or memories, which disrupts daily living. They might avoid their feelings through detachment, numbness, or reserve. PTSD sufferers also have difficulty concentrating and are constantly on the lookout for danger signs. Anger, insomnia, and irritability are common symptoms, too.
Soothing Symptoms Through Alcohol
People who struggle with PTSD are also more likely to suffer from alcoholism, which temporarily dulls the pain and memories associated with the trauma. For those who suffered a trauma as a result of drinking alcohol — for example, imagine a teen who samples alcohol for the first time and then suffers a sexual assault. She might then drink because it appears to soothe the strong emotions associated with the trauma, and unwittingly creates a chain of behavior that is difficult to end without private alcoholism rehab.
Treating PTSD and Alcoholism
Treating PTSD and alcoholism at the same time is possible with enrollment at a dual diagnosis treatment facility. During treatment, talk therapy, behavior therapy and pharmacological intervention may all be part of a comprehensive recovery plan. Drinking alcohol — because it is a central nervous system depressant — will only make symptoms of depression worse; address the issues underlying the drinking, however, and find a path to abstinence that will relieve alcoholism and PTSD at the same time.