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PTSD And Alcoholism – Does Drinking Alcohol Affect PTSD?

Woman struggling with both ptsd and alcohol abuse

PTSD and alcoholism can sometimes go hand in hand. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a debilitating mental health condition that millions of Americans deal with. Unfortunately, many people with PTSD will also experience a co-occurring alcohol use disorder and may need to seek PTSD and addiction treatment.

These two conditions can cause the symptoms of the other to worsen and can make treatment particularly difficult. Luckily, many treatment centers offer specialized programs that address the unique difficulties presented by a dual diagnosis like PTSD and addiction. Reach out to Vertava Health today to learn about our treatment options.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition characterized by intense and disturbing feelings and thoughts related to a past traumatic experience. People may develop PTSD after events such as war, natural disasters, use, and significant or sudden loss.

Individuals with this condition may experience flashbacks to the event or have nightmares. They may also feel intense emotions such as sadness, depression, and anger. Some people with PTSD may withdraw from friends or family and often avoid situations or people who remind them of the traumatic event.PTSD can happen to anyone, but women are twice as likely as men to experience this condition.

Symptoms Of PTSD

For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, they must experience symptoms of this condition for a month or longer. Many people will suffer from PTSD symptoms for several months or years. Most individuals will begin to experience symptoms within three months after the traumatic event. However, some people don’t begin to have symptoms of PTSD for several months or years.

PTSD symptoms may include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Involuntary memories of the traumatic event
  • Avoidance of people, places, or things that are a reminder of the traumatic event
  • Negative feelings or thoughts
  • Detachment
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sleep problems

Symptoms will vary in intensity. Many people experience PTSD alongside other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Symptoms Of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol use disorder, commonly known as alcoholism, is characterized by a strong compulsion to drink and difficulty controlling alcohol consumption. People with this condition may consume large amounts of alcohol or continue to drink even when it causes negative consequences in their life.

Some symptoms of addiction include:

  • Strong cravings for alcohol
  • The inability to control or limit drinking
  • Feeling withdrawal symptoms when not consuming alcohol
  • Developing a tolerance and needing more alcohol to feel the effects
  • Neglecting responsibilities and relationships because of drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences

The Relationship Between PTSD and Alcoholism

PTSD and alcohol addiction can sometimes go hand in hand. This may be because some people with this condition use alcohol to cope with symptoms. Individuals who self-medicate with alcohol may experience temporary relief from PTSD symptoms. However, alcohol often worsens symptoms over time. While alcohol may temporarily improve mood and distract a person from negative thoughts and emotions, people often feel worse once the alcohol wears off.

Additionally, alcohol use can put a person at an increased risk of experiencing other traumatic events. Because of the lowered inhibitions experienced with intoxication, a person may be more likely to participate in dangerous activities like drunk driving. This can lead to or exacerbate PTSD.

Additionally, regular alcohol use can significantly increase a person’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

Treatment For Co-Occurring PTSD And Alcoholism

The most successful form of treatment for co-occurring PTSD and alcoholism is an integrated approach that addresses both conditions simultaneously. The programs offered by Vertava Health cater to the unique needs of patients struggling with PTSD and alcohol use disorders and use several different treatment methods for a comprehensive program of recovery.

Find Relief for PTSD and Alcohol Abuse at Vertava Health

To learn more about how alcohol affects PTSD or explore treatment options for PTSD, contact Vertava Health today by using our online form or calling us at 844.470.0410. We’re here to help you or a loved one start the journey toward healing and recovery.