Self Medicating with Alcohol for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
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 and Potential Causes
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 cause 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 Treatment Centers
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 Alcohol Abuse 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.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for PTSD and Alcohol Addiction
The Treatment Specialist will connect you to a treatment center that is comprised of a team of highly knowledgeable addiction and mental health professionals who can assist you in information about treatment programs for PTSD and co-occurring alcoholism. A Treatment Specialist will offer a free assessment tool and insurance check and verification to review your coverage. For free guidance with receiving treatment for this dual diagnosis, please contact a Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.