The Connection between PTSD and Alcoholism

The Connection between PTSD and AlcoholismPosttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a highly invasive disorder, and those who have it often see noticeable changes in their lifestyle as a result of their traumatic experience. PTSD can be caused by a wide variety of different experiences, but the disorder most commonly develops in a response to combat exposure, loss, death, natural disaster, abandonment or abuse. In many cases, individuals struggling with PTSD and its symptoms seek relief through drinking alcohol, which can lead to the development of alcoholism.

PTSD Symptoms that Lead to Alcoholism

Not everyone who has PTSD becomes an alcoholic, but those who have PTSD are predisposed to developing alcoholism as a result of their experience. Some of the many symptoms of PTSD that can lead to alcoholism include the following:

  • Depression – Depression is one of the most common side effects of PTSD. Individuals may begin feeling worthless, hopeless and chronically sad due to the traumatic event they have endured. Depression is often considered one of the leading causes of alcoholism because drinking to excess can make individuals forget their problems for a short period of time.
  • Hyperarousal and anxiety – Being jittery or overly anxious is a symptom of hyperarousal, a side effect of PTSD. These jittery behaviors can cause individuals to become easily startled and make them feel as though they are constantly on edge. The stress of hyperarousal symptoms can encourage individuals to begin searching for ways to ease their anxiety, often causing them to seek relief through drinking.
  • Flashbacks – Flashbacks are common for an individual struggling with PTSD, and they can occur at any time throughout the day or night. Most people with PTSD experience nightmares related to their traumatic experience and flashbacks throughout the day. These flashbacks can become a source for violent and irrational behavior, as well as a breeding ground for anxiety. In an attempt to bounce back from these very real flashbacks, many individuals with PTSD start drinking to cope.

Symptoms of PTSD, such as depression, hyperarousal, anxiety and flashbacks, can all serve as causes for addiction development in those struggling with the disorder.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for PTSD and Alcoholism

It is not uncommon for individuals with PTSD to also develop a substance abuse problem; consequently, there is specialized treatment available for those who have both conditions. Dual Diagnosis treatment is a form of treatment that helps address the psychological issues of addiction and PTSD, as well as the physical care needed to treat alcoholism. Through this kind of therapy, individuals can develop coping skills necessary to control their PTSD and the skills needed to utilize positive outlets instead of drinking.

Do You Need Help for PTSD and Alcoholism?

Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now to get the support you need to end your alcoholism and begin treating your PTSD. Do not let one more day pass without reaching out for help. Call us today.