About seven out of 10 people will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetimes. No one is unaffected by trauma and some experience severe emotional and psychological fallout. It is estimated that about 12 million Americans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, trauma-induced mental health challenges, including PTSD, are treatable. Unfortunately, it often takes a long time for someone to even realize what they are dealing with, let alone understand that treatment is an option. In many cases, self-medicating with alcohol leads to an alcohol use disorder (AUD). At that point, a dual diagnosis treatment program that addresses the co-occurring disorders of PTSD and AUD is the best option.
Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC) offers evidence-based dual diagnosis treatment for alcohol addiction and trauma. The dual approach has been proven as the most effective way to treat co-occurring disorders. If you want to learn more about how alcohol and trauma are related and how a dual diagnosis treatment program can benefit you, please reach out to PAATC today. You can use our online form or dial 844.442.8673.
How Alcohol and Trauma Intersect
The effects of a traumatic event, or many such events, on the emotions is complex and can have far-reaching consequences, especially when not addressed. Trauma lives in the brain as an imminent or current threat, more than a memory, so the consequent emotions and reactions are overwhelming almost all the time, not just at the moment of trauma.
The links between trauma and alcohol abuse are far-reaching. For example, the majority of teens with an AUD have experienced trauma, such as sexual or physical abuse. It’s estimated that nearly 80% of Vietnam veterans seeking treatment for PTSD also have a co-occurring addiction to alcohol.
The way the alcohol-trauma connection is made unfolds something like this:
- Turning to alcohol to cope with the daily overwhelming emotion related to past trauma is common — it’s called self-medicating.
- Alcohol triggers the dopamine system and seems to ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and panic, but only in the short term.
- What at first seems like a quick fix — alcohol — can swiftly lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
- Alcohol abuse impedes emotional regulation and lowers inhibitions, which can lead to risky behaviors and more trauma.
- Eventually, alcohol does not ease but exacerbates anxiety, irritability, depression, etc. In fact, it makes coping with any new upsetting or traumatic events much harder and worsens existing PTSD symptoms.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with past trauma by turning to alcohol, consider dual diagnosis treatment at PAATC, where both disorders can be addressed together.
Why Dual Diagnosis Treatment?
A coordinated approach to treating co-occurring disorders is considered best practice. It’s called dual diagnosis treatment because it simultaneously treats two disorders — one a mental health disorder and the other addiction.
Alcohol abuse impedes the effectiveness of therapy alone. Let’s say you realize you have PTSD or are having flashbacks or emotional fallout from a past terrible event or repeated trauma. You seek mental health support from a professional therapist. Meanwhile, you are drinking to excess and have an undisclosed addiction to alcohol. The therapy will be less effective because you are numbing your emotional reactions and dulling your brain’s ability to process your trauma.
Conversely, when PTSD or other trauma-related mental health disorder is not looked at and treated along with your AUD, rehab will be less effective. The underlying or co-occurring disorder is so integrally linked to your drinking that not addressing it at the same time will get in the way of your long-term recovery.
Thus, a dual diagnosis treatment approach has the best chance for lasting success.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment at PAATC
Our evidence-based dual diagnosis treatments will help you:
- Develop self-reflection, self-forgiveness, and self-awareness
- De-stigmatize help-seeking
- Learn about your own internal and external triggers
- Find mental health balance that will continue to support your recovery throughout your life
- Forge new relationship and communication skills so you can both repair old relationships and forge new, successful ones
Reach out to PAATC today to find out how alcohol and trauma are related. Also, find out how we can help you heal from the co-occurring disorders of alcohol addiction and PTSD. Our number is 844.442.8673 — someone will answer your call and connect you to just the right person. Or, you can use our online form, and we will be sure you hear back from us quickly.