Alcohol and PTSD
Alcohol and PTSD are often found together. And the combination or pairing of alcohol and PTSD can cause a lot of problems for the trauma survivor and their family. Alcohol and PTSD go hand in hand, with PTSD are more likely than others with the same sort of background to have drinking problems. And on the other hand, people with drinking problems often will have PTSD. Those with PTSD have more problems with alcohol both before and after getting PTSD. And then PTSD also increases the risk that someone could develop a drinking problem. Alcohol and PTSD really come together and make a vicious cycle.
Alcohol and PTSD: Women
Women who go through trauma have more risk for alcohol abuse. They are at risk for alcohol abuse even if they do not have PTSD from their trauma. Women that have problems with alcohol abuse are more likely than other women to have been sexually abused at some time in their lives. This could apply to both men and women though. Both men and women who have been sexually abuse have higher rates of alcohol and drug use problems than others.
Nearly three quarters of people who survived abusive or violent trauma report having alcohol problems. Up to a third of those who survive traumatic accidents, illness, or disasters report alcohol problems and alcohol problems are more common for survivors who have ongoing health issues or are dealing with pain.
Alcohol and PTSD: Vets
Sixty to eighty percent of Vietnam Veterans that are searching for PTSD treatment have alcohol use problems. War veterans with PTSD and alcohol issues tend to be huge binge drinkers. Binges may be in response to memories of trauma. Veterans over the age of 65 with PTSD are at a high risk for suicide or suicide attempts and also suffer alcohol problems or depression.
Alcohol makes PTSD symptoms worse
Someone who has alcohol and PTSD may drink alcohol to distract themselves from their problems for a short amount of time. Even though alcohol only makes it harder in the long run.
Someone with PTSD may drink to concentrate, be productive, and enjoy parts of their life.
Using too much alcohol makes it harder for someone with PTSD to cope with stress and trauma memories. Alcohol use and getting drunk can make some PTSD symptoms increase. For instance symptoms of PTSD that can get worse are feelings of being cut off from others, anger and irritability, depression and the feeling of being on guard.
Some people with PTSD have trouble falling asleep. If this is the case they may medicate themselves with alcohol to try and get a good night’s rest. This is also very true if the person with PTSD has bad nightmares. They may drink so they have fewer dreams and can avoid the bad memories. All of this just prolongs the PTSD.
Having both alcohol and PTSD problems can compound the two. For this reason alone, the alcohol use and PTSD must be treated together. If an individual has PTSD they should try to find a place they can go that specializes in both.