How to Treat PTSD and Alcohol Misuse

In addition, military-specific barriers to accessing care need to be identified. For example, policies that have potential career consequences, such as requiring that treatment participation be recorded in a service member’s military record, may inhibit voluntary participation in treatment. Also, there may be opportunities for prevention during predeployment and postdeployment periods, but research on such programs is scarce. More information about military-specific factors and barriers will help guide prevention and intervention efforts.

ptsd and alcohol abuse

The Epidemiology of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder

People with PTSD sometimes turn to alcohol to replace the lower level of endorphins. When taken as directed, medication is an effective treatment option for co-occurring disorders. Approved medications such as acamprosate can manage your alcohol withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Dual diagnosis treatment focuses on your mental health while treating physical symptoms of PTSD and AUD, such as cravings, weight loss, and mood swings.

ptsd and alcohol abuse

Military culture

ptsd and alcohol abuse

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help PTSD and AUD patients learn about and change their way of thinking. Some or all of these psychotherapy options can be used to treat co-occurring PTSD and AUD. The findings suggest that these interventions had a small positive effect on PTSD outcomes and didn’t significantly affect SUD outcomes. CPTSD is a subtype of PTSD that develops in response to prolonged, repeated traumatic experiences, typically lasting months or years. Many people with complex PTSD use alcohol to self-medicate, which may lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Behavioral Treatments for AUD

These screening tools are especially relevant to settings that necessitate that a large amount of data be collected in a short period of time, such as in primary care clinics (Bufka & Camp, 2011). Although there is no standard trauma-exposure screener (Steenkamp et al., 2011) several options with growing support in the literature exist (Gray, Elhai, Owen, & Monroe, 2009; Kubany et al., 2000). Potential screeners with psychometric support include the Trauma Assessment of Adults (Gray et al., 2009), Life Events Checklist (Gray, Litz, Hsu, & Lombardo, 2004), and the Trauma Life Events Questionnaire (Kubany et al., 2000). Implementing SUD treatments for individuals with co-occurring PTSD and AUD could be a way for providers to address clinical needs without learning another manual-guided treatment. Motivational enhancement therapy also shows promise as a way to increase treatment initiation among veterans and military personnel who are reluctant to enter treatment or address their substance misuse during treatment for PTSD, particularly if they perceive that substance use eases their PTSD symptoms.

Although urinalysis is the predominant and often preferred biological method of assessment, SUD screening may also involve testing other bodily fluids, such as blood and saliva (Wolff et al., 1999). CDT testing is particularly useful when used in combination with other indicators such as liver enzymes (Aithal et al., 1998). Finally, hair analysis techniques also exist, but are less often used in isolation due to numerous identified biases and limitations (Wolff et al., 1999). It is also a common problem with clinical trials of psychedelics such as MDMA, LSD and psilocybin, and psychoactives such as cannabis. However, the effects of MDMA are so distinct that many trial participants in the MAPP2 study correctly guessed whether they received MDMA or placebo, the FDA review showed. Current treatment options for PTSD include psychotherapy and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

  • Generally, studies were conducted over many years and screened large numbers of subjects to reach target samples.
  • There was at best weak evidence to support the use of medications to treat AUD among those with comorbidity with PTSD.
  • The authors emphasized that even though AUD was found to be less common in AA women as compared to EA women, AUD is still prevalent and problematic among AA women.
  • Before these developments, sequential treatment was the only form of behavioral intervention employed.
  • Clinical studies show that SSRIs improve symptoms of PTSD more than placebo, although fewer than 60% of people with PTSD benefit from these drugs, and less than 30% of patients have full remission of their symptoms, according to the FDA’s briefing document.
  • Treatment providers can connect you with programs that provide the tools to help you get and stay sober.

A good treatment program will design a program tailored to your individual needs. It will help you process trauma, stop drinking, and learn new, healthier coping mechanisms going forward. According to the National Center for PTSD, as many as ptsd and alcohol abuse three-quarters of people who have experienced violent abuse or assault report having issues with drinking later. Nearly a third of people who have gone through serious accidents, illnesses, or natural disasters develop drinking problems.

Consider making weekend mornings a dedicated period for activities that help you unwind and relax. Look for wellness activity groups that align with your interests, whether it’s walking, meditation, yoga, or even adventurous experiences like wild swimming. SoberBuzz founder, Kirsty, has been journaling her gratitude every day since she stopped drinking, and she attests that it’s the most powerful tool for self-care and self-compassion.

How does alcohol affect PTSD symptoms?