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Trauma Rehab Centers

Trauma and Alcoholism

Trauma and Alcoholism

Alcoholism and trauma are dreadful conditions on their own, but when they occur together, the symbiosis that results makes them far more dangerous and difficult to treat. The painful irony is that trauma sufferers may turn to alcohol to ease the pain of trauma symptoms, but in doing so, can create even more trauma.

Causes of Trauma

Trauma can result from a wide range of causes. Most people are familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder as it affects veterans returning home from war, but there are many other types of trauma that can result from everyday occurrences.  Being involved in, or even witnessing, a severe traffic accident or a criminal assault can result in PTSD, as can suffering physical or sexual abuse. Natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, fire or earthquakes traumatize entire groups of people. The sudden loss of a family member can also be the basis for traumatic disorders.

No two people are likely to react in the same way to a trauma. Some will be able to work through their stress within a reasonable period, perhaps six to eight weeks. Others will be tormented far longer by depression, flashbacks, panic attacks and other symptoms.

How Trauma Can Lead to Alcoholism

When the symptoms of a trauma disorder are not treated, the victim may well try to self-medicate with alcohol. At first, a traumatized person might use alcohol to help him sleep, since insomnia and other sleep disorders are common in PTSD. Alcohol use may increase as the sufferer tries to numb the anxiety and panic associated with the trauma. An alcoholic blackout may be seen as the better choice than reliving the trauma through flashbacks.

Aside from the negative effects alcohol abuse has on the body in and of itself, an alcoholic may be led by decreased judgment and inhibition to put him or herself into situations where further, secondary abuse may occur, which may be even worse than the original trauma. A woman traumatized by the loss of a loved one, for instance, might find that under the influence of alcohol she has become the victim of rape or sexual abuse.

Trauma and Alcoholism Must Be Treated Concurrently

The best hope for recovery for those who suffer from both alcoholism and traumatic stress is residential treatment in a trauma rehab center. Attempting to treat the alcoholism without dealing with the root cause is not productive, nor is treatment of the trauma without addressing the alcoholism likely to be of any use. Many facilities are staffed by professionals who are trained in dealing with such a Dual Diagnosis. Call the toll-free number provided to get more information on specialized treatment for these co-occurring conditions.