Alcohol and PTSD

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.

Exposure Therapy and PTSD

Expsoure Therapy and PTSD

Exposure therapy is one of the most effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After a traumatic event, many individuals experience distress and other symptoms of PTSD. The distress may be highest when dealing with the memories, thoughts, feelings and situations related to the traumatic event.

Exposure Therapy and PTSD: Why is it used?

Exposure therapy is a commonly used therapy for treatment of anxiety disorders, specific phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is common for people to avoid situations that remind them of a trauma, because it may bring up negative or uncomfortable emotions. If you experienced trauma by once being trapped in an elevator, you may climb 9 flights of stairs to avoid going in one. If you have PTSD from your time serving in the military, you may avoid places where there will be loud noises or decline to watch movies or T.V. shows that depict war scenes. Aside from inconveniencing yourself and other people, avoiding things that remind you of trauma means that you are never able to overcome it. In fact, avoiding situations that cause remind you of your trauma may make your fears even worse.

Exposure Therapy and PTSD: How does it work?

Exposure therapy for PTSD exposes you to the situations or objects you fear. The idea is that if you are repeatedly exposed to things that cause you to relive your trauma, you will eventually get over your fear, and stop associating those things with traumatic events. Exposure therapy for PTSD involves either you confronting the situations in real life or your therapist directing you to imagine the scary situation.    Virtual reality exposure (VRE) therapy is a modern but effective treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and has been tested on several active duty Army soldiers using an immersive computer simulation of military settings.

Exposure Therapy and PTSD: What are the goals?     

The goal of exposure therapy and PTSD is to help reduce a person’s fear or anxiety. The ultimate goal is to eliminate avoidance behavior and improve quality of life. Eventually, the hope is the patient will be able to go into situations they once feared without any distress or PTSD symptoms. Standard treatment consists of 8-15 sessions conducted once or twice weekly for 90 minutes each. The duration of treatment can be shortened or lengthened depending on the needs of the client and his or her rate of progress.

Exposure Therapy and PTSD:   What does it entail?

Exposure therapy for PTSD has four main parts:

1. Education: Exposure therapy for PTSD starts with education about the treatment. The patient learns about common trauma reactions and PTSD. It allows them to learn more about their symptoms and to understand the goals of treatment.

2. Breathing: Relaxation techniques like controlled breathing are taught before the actual exposure. This is so the patient knows how to control anxiety and fear to manage distress.

3. Real World Practice: This is the part of exposure therapy for PTSD where the patient is exposed to the situation that causes distress either by guided memory, real life exposure, or virtual reality exposure.

4. Talking through the trauma: Talking through the trauma memory over and over can help the patient get more control about the thoughts and the feelings about the trauma.

Creative Arts Therapy for PTSD

Creative PTSD

Creative arts therapies for PTSD include art, music, drama, and body oriented therapies. These creative art therapies for PTSD are different techniques that all believe that thoughts and feelings about trauma are represented without verbal descriptions or using words to describe the actual event. Auditory and visual actions are used to symbolize the pain and suffering that can result from PTSD, for instance fear, horror, loneliness and distrust. The process of merely expressing oneself is more important than the finished product in creative arts therapy for PTSD.

Creative Arts Therapy for PTSD – Arts Therapies

Art therapies involve patients using something like painting, drawing or collage to represent their feelings or emotions related to the trauma. The creative art can also be used as a jumping off point to begin talking about the traumatic experiences to a therapist or group. Art therapy is great for allowing people to know they are not alone in their anger and grief and also showed them that they can tolerate the emotions that are connected with the memories of the trauma.

Creative Arts Therapy for PTSD – Music Therapies

Music therapies get patients to use music in different ways in order to facilitate emotional expression in a very lighthearted and easygoing environment. Some music therapies would be playing music, beating a drum, listening to and sharing songs. Playing music allows patients with PTSD to learn how to self-regulate emotions and form connections with others. Music therapy that involve listening to music are good starting points for discussions based on the thoughts that come to mind while listening to the music.

Creative Arts Therapy for PTSD – Drama Therapies

Drama therapies create a safe and playful environment where patients can act out any anxiety or conflict they may be feeling due to their PTSD. The goal of drama therapy is to bring out a patient’s emotions and provide a starting point for which their anxiety can be expressed and the stigma of those emotions can be removed. Drama therapies allow patients to act out confrontations or the traumatic event in a safe and comfortable place.

Creative Arts Therapy for PTSD – Dance and Body Movement Therapies

Dance and body movement therapies believe that negative emotional experiences are represented in the body in the form of tension and pain. So PTSD must be processed physically with movement and dance. With dance and movement the unconscious conflicts can become more aware. Dance and body movement therapies usually begin with relaxing the patient and then slowly increasing the movement. Some examples of body movement therapies can also include acupuncture, where negative memories are stored, or tapping of the body to relieve stress and to create balance in the patient’s life.

Creative Arts Therapy for PTSD – Nature Therapies

Nature therapies involve a bunch of different activities that include relaxing and creative approaches that involve nature. Some examples of nature therapies would be gardening and wilderness expeditions.

There are many creative arts therapies for PTSD and all of them work in helping with the symptoms associated with PTSD. How effective creative arts therapies for PTSD are really depends on the unique circumstance and the unique person. One person might respond better to painting and another to playing music.