Alcohol and PTSD

by Suzanne Grosser

Alcohol calms the nerves. It is a pain killer. When you drink, your fears and anxieties are temporarily quieted. That is why it is dangerous for people who have suffered a trauma. PTSD sufferers often self-medicate this way.

Other drugs can be abused as well. But liquor is the easiest. It is not illegal. Its use is perfectly acceptable, frequently expected. It is sociable to have a drink, a way to join in and be a part of the crowd, not an uptight stick in the mud. But if you have post traumatic stress disorder, you are really not drinking just to be sociable.

Many people drink and it is not a problem. An occasional glass of wine or frosted mug of beer is not a problem. A single daily drink has been shown in some studies to be beneficial.

It is so easy to lie to yourself about how many of those "single" drinks you really do have every day. Besides, your tolerance is higher than most people, your metabolism is faster, alcohol doesn't affect you like it does other people.

Most likely, if you ask the people around you if you drink too much, they will say no. Don't take that for the truth. It could be that you have skillfully chosen to surround yourself with people who will tell you what you need to hear.

If the idea that your alcohol consumption could be a problem angers you, then you definitely have a problem. You are angry because you don't want the comfort and calming of your "occasional drink" to be taken away. It is a reasonable fear. You have to find a way to deal with the pain. The way you have chosen may not be ideal, but it is working for you.

This is not just about you

What you don't want to admit is that your use of alcohol affects everyone around you. You refuse to see the disappointment in your son's eyes when you are too "busy" to hang out with him on a Saturday afternoon. You never see the pain on your wife's face when you "fall asleep" on the couch every night within minutes of coming home. Your family misses you, but you don't see it, because you aren't there.

You get angry sometimes when you are left out of a loved one's plans. But they knew better than to count on you. You say yes and you mean it when you say it, but when it is time to follow through on your yes, you turn away, turn to the comfort of your bottle. So they stop asking.

When you are forced to spend time at a family gathering, everyone knows where to find you: near the keg, or the bar. Wherever the liquor flows. Events without liquor are to be avoided at all costs. If you actually have to sit through one, you will fidget and complain and find an excuse to leave as soon possible.

If any of this makes you uncomfortable, good. It means you know you need to find another way to deal with your pain. You need to treat the underlying problem, instead of masking the pain with booze.

What life do you want?

You can never drink enough to make the pain go away. It is always there, waiting to resurface and drag you down again. Face what it is haunting you. Tell someone about it. Seek treatment for your PTSD. It will be hard. It will be awful.

If you wonder why you can't just keep on drinking and self medicating, read the immortal alcoholic by the wife of an end stage alcoholic. That is your future if you don't stop. That is your family's future if you don't stop.

You deserve better. Your family deserves better.

Fear or Anxiety

Face your Fears

The Power of Your Choice

Find Your True Self

Being Numb

Moving Forward

Can a PTSD Sufferer Love?

Signs of Depression

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Suzanne Grosser