Is PTSD a Reason to Keep Drinking When My Flashbacks Won’t Go Away?

People who’ve undergone trauma and never really processed or healed from the experience can develop a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD can develop out of any number of trauma-based experiences, including:

  • Car accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Childhood abuse
  • Rape
  • Assault
  • Domestic violence

According to the Perelman School of Medicine, an estimated eight percent of the U.S. population lives with PTSD symptoms at some point in their lifetimes. Flashback episodes of the traumatic event are one of the key symptoms of PTSD.

As alcohol tends to produce a calming effect when consumed, it can be easy for a person to turn to drinking in the face of flashback episodes, but is PTSD a reason to keep drinking when flashbacks keep re-occurring? Since alcohol’s effects only work to aggravate the underlying problem, the answer is no.

Understanding alcohol’s short- and long-term effects on PTSD flashbacks can help you take the necessary steps to get needed treatment help. If you’re considering treatment, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our phone counselors.

PTSD Flashbacks

Is PTSD a Reason to Keep Drinking

Alcohol abuse exacerbates mood disorders such as PTSD.

One of the most disruptive symptoms of PTSD takes the form of flashback episodes. Flashbacks can be triggered by smells, sounds or any number of cues that call the traumatic event to mind.

During a flashback, a person loses touch with the world around him or her and actually relives the traumatic event. Since flashbacks tend to occur at any time, they can greatly disrupt your daily life activities.

Under these conditions, is PTSD a reason to keep drinking? While alcohol’s effects may provide temporary relief from a flashback episode, it actually makes PTSD worse.

The Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol produces a depressant-like effect through its ability to slow down chemical activities in the brain. Over time, the brain adapts to alcohol’s effects so more of it is needed to produce the desired effect. When viewed from this perspective, the question, is PTSD a reason to keep drinking takes on a whole new scope considering you’ll need to drink more and more alcohol over time to experience its desired effects.

In the process, the emotional issues that drive PTSD remain intact while alcohol’s damaging effects further impair your ability to manage stress and cope with daily life pressures. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, these conditions will start to diminish your quality of life in various ways, including:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Isolating from others
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares

On top of all this, drinking on a regular basis puts you at increased risk of developing alcohol dependence and eventual addiction, meanwhile PTSD symptoms continue to grow worse in severity.

Treatment Considerations

In the absence of needed treatment help, PTSD flashbacks will likely increase in frequency, especially when alcohol enters the picture. Is PTSD a reason to keep drinking when flashbacks persist may seem like a viable question when trying to cope with daily life affairs, but actually opens the door for even more heartache and anxiety to develop in your life.

If you’re considering getting help for PTSD or suspect a drinking habit may be getting out of control, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our phone counselors.


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