Treating Alcoholism and PTSD

Those who struggle with an alcohol addiction and also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have often struggled to tackle either of their issues, let alone both of them at the same time. The duality of these two problems can make treating them very challenging. Researches have been looking into possible solutions to these problems and the growing population of people who are addicted to alcohol and have PTSD.

Research like the kind that is being conducted at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina is vital for the long term physical and mental health of those that struggle with an alcohol use disorder and post-traumatic stress.

A combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aimed at treating substance abuse and exposure therapy aimed at treating PTSD seems to be the most effective approach. Attacking the problems individually allows for each issue to receive adequate treatment. Concurrent Treatment of Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE) is the name researchers have given this two-pronged attack to the problems. The research shows that after several months of administering this type of therapy to individuals, many experienced significant gains in mental health.

There are other types of treatment that have shown positive results as well. Some researchers have made headway when administering certain kinds of blood pressure medication in conjunction with therapy. A specific study showed that those that received clonidine had longer time between relapses and stayed sober for longer and reported less stress. While these studies are still in the early stages, it does appear that treating both problems at once is possible.

In the past, many people were concerned about those who suffered from co-occurring disorders. Figuring out which problem to treat first proved to be difficult. Treating the addiction first oftentimes got the person out of immediate danger and allowed them to better focus on their therapy. However, some people argued that treating the mental disorder first allows for better and longer lasting treatment of the addiction. More information seems to indicate that both issues should be addressed concurrently for the best results, though the types of therapies used can vary widely.