Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops after an individual goes through a terrifying ordeal. The condition was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans who suffered from serious panic attacks, nightmares, and flashbacks. However, anyone who goes through an emotional ordeal may develop PTSD.
Unfortunately, many of those who suffer from PTSD don’t get treatment. Lack of information about the disorder and sometimes shame about the condition can cause some people to seek their own remedies. Some people turn to alcohol abuse as a way to “self-medicate”. This behavior is unhealthy and can lead to a serious addiction.
This study, conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), found the scientific reasoning behind why some people with PTSD turn to alcohol abuse. According to the research, “Alcohol may relieve these symptoms [of PTSD] because drinking compensates for deficiencies in endorphin activity following a traumatic experience. Within minutes of exposure to a traumatic event there is an increase in the level of endorphins in the brain. During the time of the trauma, endorphin levels remain elevated and help numb the emotional and physical pain of the trauma. However, after the trauma is over, endorphin levels gradually decrease and this may lead to a period of endorphin withdrawal that can last from hours to days. This period of endorphin withdrawal may produce emotional distress and contribute to other symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because alcohol use increases endorphin activity, drinking following trauma may be used to compensate this endorphin withdrawal.”
The NIAAA study also points out that although 70% of the U.S. population has suffered some trauma during their lives, only about 8% of the 70% will develop some form of PTSD. The NIAAA study also mentions that people with PTSD may see their condition getting worse if they don’t get help for it or learn to cope on their own.
Recovery from PTSD is possible. Counseling and psychotherapy are great tools to combat PTSD. Many treatment centers offer dual diagnosis therapy for those who are suffering from an addiction and a mental health issue (such as PTSD). Alcohol is highly addictive and the disease of addiction can be deadly. Don’t let your PTSD ruin your life. Get help today!