ptsd and alcoholism treatment

Alcohol continues to be the go-to substance that people may misuse when attempting to self-medicate the effects of a mental health disorder.  This is absolutely the case when it comes to individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.  Alcohol can set up an endorphin replacement cycle in the brain of someone who has suffered a traumatic event, at first providing a soothing, stress-relieving effect.

Unfortunately, the lingering emotional difficulties caused by PTSD can lead to more dependence on alcohol, becoming a vicious cycle that ultimately culminates in a dual diagnosis, the mental health disorder, PTSD, co-occurring with a substance use disorder, alcoholism.  PTSD and alcoholism treatment dual diagnosis programs can help these individuals overcome the difficulties associated with the co-occurring disorders.

About PTSD aka Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is exactly as the name implies, a disorder that results from the emotional fallout following a highly traumatic event.  PTSD, which impacts about 7% of the population, does not develop in every person who experiences an intense trauma.  In many cases, individuals can eventually process the trauma and move past it.  Individuals who mentally relive the trauma over and over, with the disturbing memories about the trauma negatively impacting their daily life, have PTSD.

Some examples of traumas that can lead to developing PTSD include:

  • Combat trauma
  • Sexual assault
  • Natural disaster
  • Being involved in a serious auto accident
  • Sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one
  • Witnessing a violent event
  • Childhood physical or sexual abuse

PTSD has certain neurological and psychological features that define the disorder.  The severity of these traits or features can be associated with the levels of alcohol consumed in order to manage them.  PTSD symptoms include the following that have lasted for more than three months:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma. Through flashbacks, nightmares, or trauma-related triggers the individual replays the traumatic event over and over again, with the physical and emotional responses also re-experienced.
  • Avoiding places, situations, or people that provoke disturbing memories of the event.
  • Feelings of being on edge, jittery, easily excitable or startled, and angry outbursts are features of PTSD.

PTSD and Alcoholism Treatment Inpatient Setting

When alcoholism and PTSD are coexisting disorders, the best treatment option is an inpatient dual diagnosis program.  These programs provide the highest level of care, with 24-hour monitoring and an integrated therapeutic approach that treats both the mental health disorder and the substance use disorder simultaneously.  The treatment might include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and/or exposure therapy to specifically treat the PTSD, and cognitive behavioral therapy for treating the addictive behaviors.

PTSD and Alcoholism Treatment Outpatient Setting

PTSD can also be treated in an outpatient setting, which allows for the individual to return home outside of treatment hours.  An outpatient program will likely use exposure therapy as well as group therapy and individual therapy for treating both the PTSD and the alcoholism.  The individual meets with therapists for a given number of hours each week to attend group therapy sessions and classes that can teach relaxation techniques and stress-reducing practices.

The Treatment Specialist Guides You To Dual Diagnosis Treatment for PTSD and Alcoholism

The Treatment Specialist is a team of highly knowledgeable addiction and mental health professionals who can assist you in locating an appropriate treatment program for PTSD and co-occurring alcoholism.  This free service can help expedite the process of getting you or your loved one the help needed to overcome this difficult dual diagnosis.  Our free assessment tool can assist the specialists in determining the best treatment match from our vast network of high quality treatment programs.  For free guidance in finding treatment for this dual diagnosis, please contact The Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.

About the Author

The Treatment Specialist

The Treatment Specialist offers mental health information and treatment resources for adults, teens, and families. If you or your loved one is suffering and is in need of help, you’re not alone, call to receive guidance and support at 866-644-7911.

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