PTSD and alcohol are something we should all learn about because we never might know if our loved ones are suffering from the condition. Posttraumatic stress disorder ( PTSD ) is a form of pressure and anxiety disorder triggered by being exposed to extremely stressful situations and encounters such as the aforementioned:
- Natural calamities
- Crimes of violence
- Domestic Violence
- Military or battlefield assault
- Assault, whether physical or sexual
- The unexpected death of a loved one
- A severe economic downturn
- Explosions are close by
- Bullying that lasts a long time
The human brain undergoes immediate and long-term changes as a result of shocking or extremely traumatic events. The surge of adrenaline we all feel when we are shocked is well-known to most people. The brain begins to plan for survival in the long run when danger appears life-threatening or persists for a prolonged period. People often report using alcohol to alleviate anxiety, irritability, and depression after a traumatic incident. Since alcohol compensates for shortages in endorphin production after a traumatic incident, it can help to alleviate these signs. There is a rise in endorphin levels in the brain within minutes of being exposed to a traumatic incident. Endorphin levels remain heightened throughout the trauma, which helps to suppress the emotional and physical discomfort. However, after the trauma has passed, endorphin levels begin to decline, which may result in an endorphin withdrawal phase that lasts anywhere from hours to days. This cycle of endorphin depletion can cause emotional distress and exacerbate other posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD). Since alcohol increases endorphin production, drinking after a traumatic event can be used to compensate for endorphin withdrawal and prevent the emotional pain that comes with it. Understanding the biochemical changes that occur throughout and after an occurrence of uncontrollable trauma is critical to understanding how trauma may cause mental distress and influence alcohol consumption. Increased levels of endogenous opioids (endorphins) tend to numb the pain of uncontrollable trauma. Rebound endorphin withdrawal after a traumatic incident, on the other hand, may lead to symptoms of emotional distress as well as an increased urge to consume alcohol. The endorphin compensation theory proposes that people drink alcohol after a stressful event to compensate for their lack of endorphins. According to this theory, excessive alcohol consumption leads to a vicious loop in which more alcohol is required to avoid endorphin withdrawal symptoms. Alcoholism may develop as a result of long-term exposure to this addictive cycle. Trauma-induced co-occurring alcoholism and psychopathology may be more common in certain groups, such as women. This model has significant consequences for the treatment of traumatically caused psychological distress and alcoholism. Psychological trauma (the occurrence or witnessing of an incident causing actual or threatened death or severe harm to oneself or others [APA 1994]) does not often result in long-term emotional distress or substance abuse. Rather, the victim’s ability to deal with the trauma determines the risk of negative outcomes. Traumatic events (PTSD)and elevated alcohol consumption are linked in both animals and humans; however, heavy drinking usually rises after the trauma instead than during it. If one considers alcohol usage to when the trauma happened, much of the conflicting literature on stress and alcohol use becomes simpler. In a rat study, for instance, we discovered only minor rises in alcohol consumption on days when shocks were given, but drastic rises in alcohol preference on subsequent days (Volpicelli et al. 1990). We coined the phrase “happy hour effect” to describe how, even among social drinkers, alcohol consumption rises after a certain time.
Researchers coined the phrase “happy hour effect” to describe how, even among casual drinkers alcohol consumption rises after, but not during, stressful situations. Based on a tension-reduction theory of alcohol usage, these findings were the polar opposite of what we predicted. If alcohol is used primarily to relieve anxiety, it should be consumed more often during stressful periods rather than afterward. So alcohol consumption must be controlled to avoid PTSD.
In humans, there is also a clear connection between PTSD and alcohol, according to research. For example, of a group of Vietnam war veterans with PTSD and alcoholism, more than half later developed symptoms of alcoholism (Bremner et al. 1996). Similarly, women who have been raped as children often resort to alcohol to alleviate their PTSD symptoms (Epstein et al. 1998). In addition, investigators discovered that 40% of inpatients undergoing drug abuse care have met PTSD requirements (Dansky et al. 1997) Since the two disorders seem to be intertwined, treating PTSD and alcoholIsm patients with alcoholism necessitates treating both disorders at the same time. Patients learn to cope with past traumas and how to deal with events that can cause flashbacks in therapy. Patients learn how to properly manage or prevent certain problems in this way. Since both alcohol and trauma improve endorphin production, opioid receptor blockers may be an effective part of PTSD care.
We hypothesize that the release of endorphins and subsequent emotional numbing caused by trauma-related memories brought up during therapy can interfere with the patient’s ability to participate in therapy. We also believe that as endorphin levels drop after a therapy session, endorphin withdrawal may lead to an increase in alcohol craving. While alcohol can temporarily alleviate PTSD and alcohol symptoms, alcohol withdrawal can worsen them. To prevent a rise in PTSD and alcohol symptoms after a drinking binge, the patient is trapped in a vicious loop in which he or she must keep drinking to avoid the adverse reaction that follows an alcoholic binge. The endorphin response is blocked by opioid antagonists like naltrexone, which reduces the appetite for alcohol.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD and alcohol) Patients Have Undergone Improvements In:
- The amygdala is a part of the brain that regulates emotions
- The hippocampus is a part of the brain that helps you remember things
- The prefrontal cortex is located in the frontal lobe of the brain
People who have experienced traumatic stress may have continuing rises in the stress levels of hormones norepinephrine and cortisol. Both of these symptoms have the potential to cause long-term shifts, which is precisely what we observe in people with untreated PTSD and alcoholism.
The best part is that PTSD and alcoholism can be managed and these brain changes reversed. Each year, newer, quicker therapies for PTSD are introduced, and conventional therapies have shown that people can recover from PTSD using existing treatments.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms
Post-traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD ) is described as a condition that affects four major aspects of one’s life. The following are the four primary signs of PTSD:
- Things that remind the individual of their trauma are avoided.
- Embarrassing recollections of the trauma that wreak havoc on daily life
- Emotional and physical responses change
- A rise in negative thoughts and feelings
Any of The Following Symptoms Can Persist as A Result of These Changes:
- Fright outbursts
- Chronic stress triggers.
- Sleepless nights
- Outbursts of emotion
- Injury of one’s self
- Thrill-seeking behavior is a form of behavior that involves seeking out new experiences.
- Chemical dependency
These signs can appear briefly after the traumatic event in some scenarios. Others might not show symptoms for ages after the trauma.
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A primary sign of PTSD is the avoidance of unwanted or painful experiences. As a result, it is very common for people suffering from PTSD and alcohol or other drugs.
When a person consumes a lot of alcohol, the brain produces dopamine, which is an organic chemical For a brief time, this washes over sophisticated receptors in the brain, briefly relieving latent psychological distress. The signs often return after drinking, and they are always much worse than they were before the attempt to self-medicate with drugs. In certain cases, the alcohol causes more unpleasant events, resulting in a vicious cycle.
Alcohol tolerance grows rapidly in the body. This means that to feel the desired effect, the affected individual would require greater and more regular doses of alcohol. Addiction can grow rapidly. due to the brain’s need for emotional relief and the individual’s growing tolerance to alcohol and this opens room for PTSD.
Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD and Alcohol
The most effective PTSD and alcoholism treatment programs combine their patients’ therapy for all physical and emotional issues into one comprehensive care plan. The following elements are often found in these:
- Supportive counseling
- Participants will attend classes to learn about the condition of alcoholism and how to treat it.
- Classes and groups to help people develop coping skills
- Meditation or yoga are examples of relaxation techniques.
- Therapeutic arts
- Medical treatment
- Activities and group counseling
These services support patients in reprogramming their brains to their pre-trauma state over time. Even if it temporarily “takes the pressure off,” alcohol is not a cure for PTSD in the long run. The fundamental issues are just getting worse. Anyone suffering from both PTSD and alcoholism would eventually be unable to get intoxicated enough to feel any relief. If these circumstances are not properly handled and exhaustively, overdose and suicide are very major dangers.
Getting Help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD and Alcoholism Today
Call our toll-free helpline, 615-490-9376, for instant, discreet, and free answers to all of your questions about PTSD and alcoholism. Our team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has access to the most effective recovery options for your specific requirements You don’t have to bear this load by yourself any longer. Make a call right now to find out more about PTSD and alcohol.
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.