The Harmful Effects of Alcohol on PTSD Symptoms

June 28, 2022 | Addiction Treatment , Alcohol

The Harmful Effects of Alcohol on PTSD Symptoms

Harmful Effects of Alcohol on PTSD Symptoms

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and alcohol abuse disorder are commonly present together. Often those with traumatic experiences will turn to drugs and alcohol to numb their pain and avoid thinking about the trauma. These co-occurring disorders are common among veterans, but they can happen to anyone who has experienced trauma.

What is PTSD?

Traumatic experiences can lead to feelings of helplessness, suicidal thoughts, aggression, self-harm, anxiety disorder, and depression. People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their encounters that can last long after the trauma is over. They can avoid people or situations that remind them of the traumatic event and have strong negative reactions to everyday stimuli such as loud noises or someone’s touch. PTSD can also cause nightmares, flashbacks, and hallucinations. PTSD can occur in all people of any ethnicity, culture, or nationality.

Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD can start within one month of a traumatic event but sometimes may not appear until years later. Symptoms can greatly affect everyday life including social, work, and relationship situations. Symptoms are grouped into the following four groups:

  1. Intrusive memories – This includes symptoms of recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event, flashbacks, nightmares, and severe emotional distress or reactions to reminders of the event.
  2. Avoidance – This involves avoiding thinking and talking about the event and also avoiding people, activities, and places that are reminders of the traumatic event.
  3. Negative changes in mood and thinking – Symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, detachment from friends and family, loss of interest in activities, emotional numbness, unable to experience positive moods, negative thoughts about themselves, memory issues, and other people or the world.
  4. Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions – Also called arousal symptoms, these include easily startled or frightened, sleep issues, feelings of guilt and shame, self-destructive behavior, constantly on guard for danger, difficulty concentrating and irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior.

How Alcohol Affects PTSD Symptoms

Some people with PTSD turn to alcohol as a way to avoid thinking or experiencing emotions related to trauma. Victims of PTSD are more likely to develop alcohol dependence as a way to self-medicate the symptoms of trauma. While alcohol may temporarily provide relief from intrusive thoughts, when the effects wear off, the negative emotions associated with alcohol withdrawal may intensify PTSD symptoms. It is also possible for alcohol use to make negative feelings caused by PTSD worse.

Treating PTSD and Alcohol Addiction

When dealing with co-occurring disorders of alcohol addiction and PTSD, it is vital that the person seeking help find substance abuse treatment from a recovery center with a dual diagnosis program and use trauma-informed therapy. Treating both disorders simultaneously is the best way to improve the person’s chances of being able to recover long-term. Treatment for co-occurring PTSD and alcohol use disorder may include group therapy and individual therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and alternative therapies like breathwork therapy, yoga, and acupuncture. Chances of recovering also improve the sooner the person gets help.

Get Help for Alcoholism and PTSD

Anyone can develop PTSD from traumatic events including natural disasters, childhood trauma, sexual abuse, abusive relationships, job loss, death of a loved one, accidents, war, and much more. When dealing with negative emotions, it is easy for anyone to accidentally develop an alcohol use disorder when trying to cope with the issues alone. But you don’t have to deal with your trauma and alcohol addiction alone anymore.

At DayBreak Treatment Solutions we can help you break the patterns of substance abuse and truly heal from traumatic events with our alcohol addiction treatment. Through our dual diagnosis program, you can get help for your PTSD and alcohol abuse disorder effectively with the help of our caring, compassionate staff who help you every step of the way. Please get help today by giving us a call and speaking to one of our addiction specialists. Call (954) 953-4864 today.