PTSD and Women Alcoholics: The Connection Between the Two

March 14, 2017 - - 0 Comments PTSD and Women Alcoholics: The Connection Between the Two

Statistics reveal that more than 55% to over 90% of women who are undergoing treatment for alcohol and other substance abuse disorder are showing symptoms that are related and consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. These numbers are in line with the results of various studies conducted about the relationship between alcoholism and PTSD. Outcomes of such types of research reveal that women who are suffering from PTSD are more susceptible than others with the same background, to develop alcohol abuse disorder.

This positive link between alcoholism and PTSD is one of the many challenges that counselors from women alcohol rehab centers need to address to fully assist their alcoholic patients.

Why Do Women with PTSD Abuse Alcohol?

The majority of women who experienced some form of abuse in the past that developed into full-blown PTSD eventually become women alcoholics because they heavily rely on drinking to cope with their stress and traumatic memories.

Here are specific instances wherein women suffering from PTSD use alcohol to distract themselves from facing their difficulties even for a while:

  • Difficulty Sleeping

PTSD patients who are having problems falling asleep, sleeping without interruptions all through the night, and those who keep waking up in the middle of the night use alcohol as a form of “medication” because they believe it will help them sleep. Unfortunately, this tactic can only work a few times because eventually, too much alcohol will get in the way of a peaceful sleep. Unknown to them, the alcohol drastically impacts the quality of sleep and makes it less invigorating.

  • Bad Dreams and Nightmares

Bad dreams and nightmares are common among PTSD patients because of their terrible experience. To keep them from happening, women with PTSD drink alcohol to lessen the degree, if not totally eliminate, the occurrence of nightmares. Sadly, relying on alcohol is ineffective and even produce unfavorable consequences such as lessening the effectiveness of PTSD treatment and prolonging of PTSD. Moreover, once the person stops drinking alcohol, the nightmares often take a turn for the worst.

  • Stress and Traumatic Memories

PTSD patients drink alcohol heavily in order to feel relax and to forget their trauma. Regrettably, getting drunk may appear to be helpful but it is only making the various symptoms of PTSD much worse than before. These symptoms include depression, irritability, anger, numbing of feelings, and feeling of being cut-off from others.

Important Points to Remember in Treating PTSD and Alcoholism

Unlike ordinary alcohol abuse problems, those who are suffering from a co-occurring disorder of PTSD and alcoholism should seek professional help from a facility manned by treatment specialists that have experience in such cases. Here are some important points to remember when treating patients with alcoholism and PTSD:

  • Treatment approach should not include a combination of techniques such as therapy, education, and support groups that can help the patient stay sober.
  • Patients should be made aware of how drinking alcohol can further worsen the symptoms of PTSD.
  • PTSD and alcohol abuse should be addressed together because neglecting one will cause the “treated” disorder to fall in the same vicious cycle. If the patient only went for alcohol abuse treatment and completely ignored her PTSD symptoms, it will be impossible for her to stay sober considering that she will once again rely on drinking to “relieve” the onset of PTSD symptoms.

Women alcoholics who are also suffering from PTSD should receive an integrated treatment that will address the substance abuse problem and mental health issue at the same time. To this end, it has been found through many types of studies that the most effective treatment for substance abuse and PTSD is a psychosocial treatment approach that has an exposure therapy component.

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