Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) initially begins after a traumatic event and slowly develops over time. The victim can have the condition for several years before they recognize the need for treatment. Furthermore, they may turn to alcohol as a way of self-medicating the symptoms of PTSD. As a result, PTSD and alcohol addiction can lead to numerous problems that complicate an individual’s life.
There are several symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as:
- Intense anxiety
- Painful memories
- Recurring nightmares
- Flashbacks of the event
- Paranoia, fear, or isolation
Each of these symptoms can mentally paralyze a person as they try to cope with the trauma, often in the shadows. Since most people are no equipped to deal with addiction, they often turn to destructive behavior as a coping mechanism. For this reason, substance abuse is common with trauma victims. Let’s explore PTSD and alcohol addiction further so that you can recognize both conditions.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
When a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, it can take a psychological and physical toll on the victim. In many cases, the symptoms of the traumatic effects do not start to show until years later. This is because the person has not properly addressed their inner turmoil.
Some of the most common traumas that lead to PTSD include:
- Childhood neglect or abuse
- Sexual assault or rape
- Natural disaster that ends in a fatality
- Death of a loved one
- Military combat
When a person starts to drink to cope with past trauma, they almost invariably end up experiencing both PTSD and alcohol addiction. This is especially true if their symptoms include anxiety, depression, or feelings of isolation.
PTSD and Addiction
Since the symptoms of PTSD can be intense, many victims are not emotionally equipped to deal with them. While some get help early on, others try to manage the symptoms from day-to-day. However, without the proper help, the symptoms can be overwhelming often leading to alcoholism. The victim may drink to escape the pain or intense emotions they feel from the trauma.
Over time, they increase their alcohol intake so that they can bury their feelings. They may also experiment with drugs or start taking a prescription for anxiety or depression without addressing the real issues. Even if the medication makes them feel better, they will increase the dosage as their body grows a tolerance to the substance.
The end result is a co-occurring disorder that includes both PTSD and severe alcohol use. With increased use, the individual will become dependent on the substance and eventually not be able to function without it. They may form a long-term addiction and continue drinking regardless of the consequences.
Get Help for PTSD and Alcohol Addiction at Phoenix Rising
If you suffer from both PTSD and alcohol addiction, you can get help at Phoenix Rising. We offer comprehensive treatment for both alcohol addiction and mental disorders. To find out more about our treatment options, call 855.232.8211. We are here to help you get on the road to recovery.