Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder. It causes recurring episodes of distress and anxiety. These episodes often take the form of flashbacks or nightmares. PTSD is caused by one or more periods of exposure to a traumatic event. Many combat veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their time in the military, but it can also occur in those who were not in the military. It can result from any type of traumatic event or environment. Examples include childhood abuse or a major car accident. This type of disorder can be extremely difficult to manage alone but may cause those who have it to isolate themselves.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a type of substance use disorder. It involves the frequent and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages. It can result in alcohol dependence. If consumption is suddenly stopped, it can also result in withdrawal.
Interestingly, there is a comorbid relationship between PTSD and alcohol use disorder. People who have PTSD are more likely to develop AUD in an attempt to manage their PTSD symptoms.
Who is most likely to experience both PTSD and alcohol use problems?
Post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder can occur simultaneously. Take a look at the bulleted list below to learn more about who is more likely to experience both at the same time:
- Military veterans and active service members — Military veterans and active service members are likely to develop PTSD. It’s often a result of high-stress or traumatic events during their time in the service. PTSD is linked to alcohol use disorder and may occur simultaneously for veterans and active service members.
- Anyone with a preexisting alcohol use disorder — Anyone with an alcohol use disorder is more likely to be exposed to traumatic events or environments that can cause PTSD.
- Anyone who has experienced child abuse — People who have undergone childhood emotional or physical abuse growing up are more likely to develop PTSD symptoms. They may end up using alcohol to cope with their trauma.
- Victims of traumatic accidents — Someone who has been through or witnessed a traumatic incident, like a car accident or a sibling’s death, could potentially develop PTSD and alcohol use disorder at the same time.
- Victims of war crimes — Victims of war crimes are another group of people who are likely to develop PTSD and eventually AUD.
- Survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse — Victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse also have the potential to develop comorbid PTSD and AUD.
How can mental health professionals help those with PTSD and alcohol use disorder?
There are a few different ways that a mental health professional may help someone who is struggling with PTSD and AUD. Take a look at some of the ways listed below.
- Help manage PTSD symptoms — A licensed mental health professional can help someone who has PTSD recognize their triggers and work to minimize their symptoms.
- Find reliable treatment resources for AUD — A mental health specialist is also likely to refer someone who has PTSD and AUD to reliable treatment resources for their alcohol dependence.
- Build a network of support with similar individuals — Many mental health treatment programs encourage their clients to attend group sessions so that they can meet others going through similar situations and gradually build a better network of understanding and support.
- Use a process-based clinical approach — Some mental health professionals work with clients who have PTSD and AUD by using a process-based clinical method to provide more holistic, personalized care.
Lightfully wants to help you manage your PTSD and secondary alcohol use disorder
Our mission at Lightfully is to work with individuals to change their life compassionately. We strive to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients through a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. Lightfully offers various layers of service to both adults and teens: residential treatment, Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also referred to as our Day Treatment Program. We regularly see clients who actively manage mood, anxiety, personality and trauma disorders. Are you or someone you care about struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and secondary alcohol use disorder? We’d like to help. Our therapists are experienced in dealing with clients who have moderate to severe PTSD and AUD. We’d like to help you or your loved one build a more sustainable future for yourself.
Our licensed, clinical experts see each client as a complex and layered human — not just a diagnosis. We value our clients as they are and hope to enrich their lives through treatment. Our vision for the future is an authentic and loving community. Everyone should be seen, heard and valued as they are. We believe in the light within each individual. When that light is properly nurtured, it can allow a person to shine brighter than ever before.
Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.