Alcohol and Substance Abuse in PTSD - Topic Overview
After you've been through a traumatic event, you may be tempted to
use alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. Some people with
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) try to deal with
their symptoms this way.
Taking alcohol or drugs to deal with
stressful emotions is called self-medication. This may make you feel better for
a while, but in the long run it will do more harm than good. Alcohol and drugs
can make it harder to enjoy life, and they can keep you from taking care of
your responsibilities. Using alcohol can even make your PTSD symptoms
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive mental health services, including screening tests for depression and alcohol misuse, at no cost to you. Learn more.
Taking alcohol or drugs may lead to
substance abuse. This is when alcohol or drugs cause
problems in your life. Substance abuse may hurt your relationships with friends
and family members, and it may cause problems at work. It also may lead to
serious health problems.
If you use alcohol or drugs, you may
dependent. This means that you can't quit, or you have
withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit. Withdrawal may cause you to feel sick
or shaky. Also, when you become dependent, you may have to use more alcohol or
drugs to get the same effect.
Is alcohol or drug use a problem for me?
everyone with PTSD has a problem with drinking or using drugs, but having PTSD
makes it more likely that a problem will develop.1 You
may not know if drinking or drug use is a problem for you. It may happen very
slowly so that you don't notice it, or it may be part of another activity and
isn't obvious. For example, you may spend Saturdays watching football and
drinking with your friends. You may not see that the alcohol is more important to
you than the football.
Drinking or using drugs is a problem if it
causes your behavior to change or changes how you use alcohol or drugs.
Take this test or reply to the statements below to see if you have a problem with
drugs or alcohol.
My drinking or drug use has:
Made me more aggressive or
Interfered with personal obligations, like taking care of my
family or working.
Put me in danger. For example, I have used drugs
or alcohol before driving or operating machinery.