PTSD and Alcohol Abuse: Is There a Relationship?

PTSD and Alcohol Abuse: Is There a Relationship?

Did you know that around 38% of Americans struggling with addiction also have mental health issues?

From depression to anxiety, it isn't uncommon to see a dual diagnosis in rehabilitation centers. Mental health and addiction are very closely linked, becoming so entwined that it can be difficult to know which came first.

But are PTSD and alcohol-related? Could you or your loved one be abusing alcohol because of past trauma?

Find out everything you need to know in this guide.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD, is a type of mental health issue. It arises in the wake of a traumatic event, such as the loss of a loved one, witnessing a violent act, or being abused. It was first noticed in people returning from war and is still a common issue in those enlisted in the army.

Some common PTSD symptoms include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble focusing
  • Destructive behavior

It can also lead to the onset of other mental health problems, such as depression. That's one of the reasons it's so important that anyone who thinks they may be suffering from PTSD seeks help. But what about its link to alcohol?

Are PTSD and Alcohol Abuse Linked?

If you're already earning AA chips or sobriety medallions, you'll know that addiction has a wide range of causes. In one study of around 2,500 people, those with PTSD were found much more likely to report problems with alcohol, whether it be addiction or abuse. 

This isn't just the case for America, either. The UK has also conducted research into the link and found that as high as 40% of people struggling with addiction (including related to alcohol) also have PTSD.

Why Are PTSD and Alcoholism Linked?

It's not uncommon for those struggling with PTSD to want to numb their feelings and try to block the memories of trauma. Alcohol is the perfect substance to do this.

During a traumatic event, your brain releases endorphins to try and protect you. Once the event is over, these leave your system, and you're left to face the reality of what's happened. Alcohol, however, releases endorphins in the same way, creating a distance between yourself and the trauma.

How to Get Help For Alcohol Addiction

If you think you may be abusing alcohol or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, there are plenty of ways to get help. Start attending AA meetings, for example, and earn AA tokens as you work your way through the process. 

If your alcoholism is caused by PTSD, it's vital you receive therapy, too, to treat the underlying mental health problem while also dealing with the addiction.

Purchase Your Own Sobriety Chips

Recovering from addiction is hard, especially when you're dealing with PTSD and alcohol abuse at the same time. But, it isn't impossible. As long as you seek professional help and reward milestones in your journey, you can regain control of your life and find happiness again.

If you're beginning your recovery journey, be sure to take a look at our AA medallions. They're the perfect way to celebrate your progress and a reminder of just how far you've come.