Veterans are also at risk of being diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders involve a diagnosis of two conditions, substance abuse and a mental health disorder. For example, if a veteran falls victim to alcohol abuse while suffering from anxiety, both conditions must be addressed and treated together. If left untreated, a co-occurring disorder can lead to more serious health complications in the future. Although millions of veterans are in need of assistance while adjusting to civilian life, many do not receive treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with a drinking problem, there are many recovery options available. Contact one of our treatment specialists to get started on your treatment plan today.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Among Veterans
The physical and psychological effects of being in the military can last a lifetime. Among the most common effects that active and former military experience is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a severe anxiety condition that is often the result of a traumatic event. In the case of soldiers, PTSD generally occurs as a result of the events witnessed during combat such as explosions, gunfire and grave injuries. While the symptoms of PTSD may surface shortly after a traumatic event occurs, the disorder can take years to properly diagnose. Several symptoms of PTSD are: Depression; Flashbacks; Sleeping problems; Paranoia; Self-destructive behavior and Anxiety.
Alcohol Abuse and PTSD
Alcohol is often consumed to mask the triggers of trauma or forget terrifying incidents. However, frequent binge drinking can rewire the brain, building up a person’s tolerance and increasing their alcohol dependence over time. The consumption of alcohol can also affect a veteran’s PTSD. Not only can it prolong PTSD symptoms, but it can also intensify them as well. Since alcohol is a depressant, drinking can exacerbate some PTSD symptoms such as anxiety, depression and insomnia.
When alcohol enters the body, it lowers your serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Serotonin is a chemical that affects your mood, appetite, sleep and memory. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone that controls how the body reacts to different situations and events. Low levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine have been linked to depression. In veterans who suffer from mental health conditions, excessive drinking can make situations seem worse than they are. This can lead to an increased risk of self-harm or suicide. Seeking professional help from an alcohol treatment center is the safest and most effective way to overcome a drinking problem. Alcohol counselors are able to work with veterans on a one-on-one basis to identify any signs of PTSD. They can also provide them with with tools necessary for preventing future triggers.
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