By: Nick
January 13, 2022

Can PTSD Cause Alcoholism?

Table of Contents

PTSD is a debilitating and devastating mental illness. For those who suffer from PTSD, the visceral memories of unresolved past trauma can severely affect their day-to-day life. Not only does it affect their life, but it also impacts the lives of their family and others the love. Many people who suffer from this crippling mental disorder desperately find ways to cope with their pain. For a considerable number of people living with PTSD, they turn to alcohol in order to cope with their emotions.


While alcohol can lessen the pain of their anguish, drinking to cope with PTSD will eventually do more harm than good. The question becomes, will PTSD cause alcoholism if the roots of past trauma aren’t addressed in a timely fashion. The simple answer to that question is yes. This article will define what PTSD is, its causes, and the connection between PTSD and alcohol. Most importantly, you will learn where to find alcohol and PTSD treatment.


What is PTSD?


PTSD (or post-traumatic stress disorder) is a psychiatric disorder that occurs when someone experiences or witnesses an event (or events) that is life-threatening. Those who suffer from PTSD will relive the traumatic events in their life through vivid nightmares and flashbacks. As a result, it is a crippling effect on their daily life. People with post-traumatic stress disorder often have tremendous difficulty sleeping, feel emotionally flat, and feel detached from their everyday lives.

People with PTSD will experience three major symptoms:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms—these are related to reliving the traumatic event or events in the form of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.
  • Avoidance—people affected with PTSD will avoid the people, places, and things connected to the traumatic event. As a result, those affected will experience an emotional numbing or disconnect of feelings to their daily lives.
  • Arousal symptoms— those with PTSD always feel they need to be “on alert” at all times in their surroundings. People will experience a “flight or fight” response if there are things in the environment they perceive as threatening.


What are the Causes of PTSD?


As already stated, the main cause of PTSD is the experiencing of traumatic events in one’s life. For many people, this mental disorder is associated with military veterans who experienced prolonged exposure to combat and war. While this group of people can develop PTSD as a result of those experiences, anyone from any age group can experience PTSD. The following are common traumatic events that can lead to the development of PTSD:

  • Severe automobile accidents
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes
  • Extreme physical neglect
  • Child abuse, including psychological, physical, and sexual abuse
  • Sexual assault or prolonged/repeated sexual abuse
  • Physical assault
  • The death of a loved one, friend, or pet


What is the Relationship Between PTSD and Alcoholism?


For those who struggle with PTSD, the emotional and psychological pain they go through is very intense. In order to cope with those feelings, they will turn to substances—and especially alcohol—in order to cope with their symptoms. Those who self-medicate with alcohol will feel a temporary lift in their mood, and it provides some form of relief. When the effects of alcohol wear off, those symptoms return, and people will often feel worse. Additionally, alcohol use puts those struggling with PTSD at greater risk of experiencing other traumatic events.


Can PTSD Cause Alcoholism?


In regard to the question of if PTSD can cause alcoholism, the answer is a definite yes. When people drink alcohol to cope with their PTSD symptoms, they will need to consume increasing amounts over time in order to achieve the same effect. Without professional mental health treatment, people will use alcohol as their primary coping tool. Their use will go into dependence, then to full-blown alcoholism. If someone with PTSD develops an alcohol addiction, they develop what is known as dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is very difficult to treat, and those with this condition will need to seek intensive specialized treatment to deal with both addiction and PTSD.


PTSD and Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles, CA


If you are struggling with PTSD and alcohol addiction, finding help is of utmost importance. If you are in Los Angeles and the surrounding area, or from a different part of the country and need a fresh start, Multi-Concept Recovery is your first choice. MCR is not like other drug treatment and dual diagnosis treatment centers. We offer evidence-based treatment programs that are run by expert staff and are individualized to meet your specific needs.

At MCR, we firmly believe in treating the whole person; mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. We offer inpatient treatment, partial day treatment, outpatient and mental health treatment programs for teens and adults. No matter your age or the severity of your PTSD and alcohol addiction, we can help. Call MCR today, and we can help you find lasting health, happiness, and recovery.