Treating PTSD and Alcohol Use Disorder: Concurrent Cognitive Processing Therapy and Psychopharmacology

Currently pursuing her advanced degree in psychology, Samantha’s personal journey of overcoming addiction fuels her passion for supporting others on their path to wellness. Samantha’s own journey of recovery serves as a powerful foundation for her therapeutic services. She approaches her work with empathy, understanding, and non-judgment, recognizing that everyone’s path to healing is unique. Being born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, it was always a dream for James to start a program where he began his own recovery journey.

It is a collaborative process between the client and therapist that typically involves talking about difficult issues or problems out loud. Recovery is attainable if you or a loved one is battling with drinking and PTSD. Heroes’ Mile’s professionals provide all-encompassing therapy for drug abuse and co-occurring illnesses.

Alcohol, PTSD Triggers & The Body’s Stress Response

Together, differences in the characteristics of various populations, how they are sampled, and the validity and comparability of measurement tools used to assess AUD and PTSD may contribute to high variability in rates of PTSD + AUD observed across studies. In addition, the PTSD diagnostic criteria may not translate cross-culturally, introducing additional heterogeneity across studies (Michalopoulos et al., Reference Michalopoulos, Unick, Haroz, Bass, Murray and Bolton2015). Further research to disentangle this variability is needed to distinguish true differences in the epidemiology of PTSD + AUD from variation that can be explained by methodological limitations of the available literature.

ptsd and alcohol abuse

Especially when dealing with someone’s trauma, it is essential to check in with our mental health and make sure that helping a loved one isn’t causing anxiety of our own. If you feel you are becoming triggered by your own trauma, or are too overwhelmed to be the main supporter of your loved one’s journey, take a step back. Referring your friend to a professional or another loved one that can be of better help to them is nothing to be ashamed of. You may be reluctant to reach out to a loved one to try to help with trauma and alcoholism for fear that you are overstepping a boundary. As long as you come from a non-judgmental, caring, and respectful place, reaching out to help a loved one will always do more good than harm. Your support may be just the thing they need to get professional help and start their recovery journey.

How Is Complex PTSD Diagnosed?

One alternate term for C-PTSD is enduring personality change after a catastrophic experience (EPCACE). Another alternating term is disorders of extreme stress not otherwise specified (DESNOS).2 C-PTSD is also sometimes considered complex trauma. Erin has a master’s degree in management from University of Maryland, University College, and a bachelor’s degree in special education from Townson University.

Can you get PTSD from living with an alcoholic?

The constant stress caused by living with an alcoholic can have disastrous effects on a person's mental well-being. The fear, guilt and lack of control associated with living with an alcoholic often leads to the development of PTSD.

Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs indicates that as many as 63 percent of veterans diagnosed with alcohol use or other substance use disorder also meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. While PTSD does not result solely from trauma experienced with military duty, PTSD and alcohol abuse in veterans are occurring at higher rates than in the general population. Seeking treatment for a substance use disorder and PTSD have increased at least 300 percent in recent years. Studies show that the relationship between PTSD and alcohol use problems can start with either issue. For example, people with PTSD have more problems with alcohol both before and after they develop PTSD. Also, drinking problems put people at risk for traumatic events that could lead to PTSD.

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Drs Zack Ishikawa and Steere present the case of Mary and the treatment of co-occurring trauma symptoms and alcohol misuse. Mary’s vacillating course of therapy has demonstrated how powerful the pull of avoidance can be, and how persuasive the belief that the only viable option to survival is forging ahead ptsd and alcohol abuse while denying posttraumatic distress. At the same time, she demonstrated a remarkable willingness to examine her enactments of traumatic avoidance. In risking vulnerability—with treatment, her relationship with her providers, and the future—she has acknowledged another, more rewarding path forward.

  • I recommend a focus on increasing Mary’s tolerance for painful and forbidden affects.
  • In two recent CETA trials conducted in Zambia, evidence suggested effectiveness of this modified CETA protocol in treating PTSD + AUD.
  • Addiction to alcohol and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) are very commonly present together as those who have experienced trauma often turn to alcohol to numb their pain.

PTSD treatment facilities are the safe, healing environments where people living with PTSD can heal. Caring, trustworthy, licensed clinicians can provide treatment for the disease of addiction and the stress and trauma of PTSD. Finding peer groups of co-sufferers can begin the connection and starting point for healing.