PTSD and Alcoholism

Does PTSD Lead to Alcoholism?

What is a traumatic event? Have you ever experienced one or know someone who has?

A traumatic event is a personally terrifying situation or scenario, either experienced or witnessed, in which an excessive amount of stress is induced. The event itself can be marked by a sense of helplessness, horror, serious injury, the threat of serious injury, or even death.

This experience typically leaves a person feeling a variety of noticeable emotional responses, including fear, grief, and depression, and can manifest itself in a number of physical manners – including nausea, dizziness, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, and an obvious withdrawal from daily activities.

For a number of people who have experienced a traumatic event, their attempts to simply go on with their life as if nothing has happened can compound the problem and put them in a position in which their symptomatology gets increasingly worse, leaving them feeling lost, lonely, and overwhelmed.

This can result in a variety of maladaptive behavioral patterns, including addictive impulsivity, self-medicating to decrease excessive emotionality, and increasing isolation to avoid traumatic triggers.

For someone struggling with an alcohol addiction, the residual effects of a traumatic event can commonly result in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. A serious diagnosable mental health issue, PTSD can drive an addict deeper into their addiction, forcing them to consume increasingly larger amounts of alcohol in order to silence their emotional pain and ease their ever-increasing traumatic distress.1

How PTSD Changes an Individual

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is akin to a seed planted in the ground. It takes root within an individual and grows in size and scope over time. For most people who endure a traumatic event, their attempts to overcome the experience through their own volition and will power is typically an act of futility.

The traumatic seed continues to grow no matter how hard they fight it and the memories and thoughts of the trauma ripple within a person’s mind, reminding them over and over of how hopeless and helpless they felt.

This is manifested through intrusive thoughts which include:

  • Recurrent and unwanted memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again and again
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress to something that reminds them of the experience

This can force an individual to avoid everything, from people that elicit traumatic thoughts to places that trigger traumatic experiences. The results of these posttraumatic experiences can lead to difficulty maintaining close relationships, difficulty experiencing positive emotions, and an overall feeling of emotional numbness throughout the day.

Self-Medication: The Link Between PTSD and Drinking

A person dealing with PTSD can find themselves searching in all the wrong places for relief. Self-medicating is the result of someone turning to alcohol or illegal drugs to numb their pain and block out the excessive emotionality associated with their traumatic experience.

While this can initially make a person feel more in control of their traumatic experience, this slippery slope of addiction inevitably spirals out of control, leading an individual deeper in their addiction then before and exacerbating the negative effects of their post-traumatic stress.

If you have experienced a traumatic event and turn to alcohol as a way to momentarily leave reality, it’s vital to acknowledge that just because you feel temporary relief while drinking alcohol, this self-medicating approach to PTSD is not a viable option to maintain.

It is not sustainable. It will result in a deeper and more destructive addiction. It will take away your strength and replace it with lies and deception.

Co-occurring Disorders: PTSD and Alcoholism

Due to the numbing effects that alcohol can have on a person’s mind and body, the co-occurring disorders of PTSD and Alcohol Use Disorder are familiar bedfellows. Their destructive comorbidity work so well together because of the manner in which alcohol prohibits a person from confronting their traumatic experience, while posttraumatic stress encourages them to isolate themselves from family and friends.

If you live with PTSD and have found yourself sinking deeper and deeper into your alcohol addiction, ask yourself one thing: Is this the life I deserve? Were you strong enough to survive or overcome your experienced trauma simply to lose your health and happiness to alcohol addiction?

While PTSD is all too real to a person who has experienced a life-altering traumatic event, the co-occurrence of an alcohol use disorder is the perpetual lie that makes you believe you have to live in fear and isolation. It takes courage to overcome a trauma, and even more to ask for help in order to get your life back.

Turning to your addiction is not sustainable and will leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled, increasing your hopelessness and destroying your mind and body in the process.

Turning to a facility that can reconnect you with your positive emotions through effective mindfulness techniques and holistic healing is the type of decision that can put you back on the right path. Your recovery journey, and the healing required to overcome a traumatic experience, requires clinical guidance and support.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; it can mean the difference between temporary relief and long-term health and happiness.

Holistic Co-Occurring Treatment for PTSD and Alcohol Addiction at Ranch Creek Recovery

Dealing with co-occurring disorders in any form is an extremely difficult task to face, but there is proven, life-changing help for you. You can achieve mental stability, quit your addiction, and learn vital, effective skills to avoid a relapse.

At Ranch Creek Recovery, we take a holistic, non-12-step approach to drug and alcohol rehab and mental health disorders. The trauma you experienced and the addiction that may have entered your life has deeply affected your mind, body, and spirit.

Because of this, these vital pieces of your being must be given the support and nurturing they need to fully heal. We work with every aspect of you to ensure complete care and healing.

Learn more about Ranch Creek Recovery, including what we offer and what we treat.

Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.

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