What is the relationship between alcohol and trauma? | Summary and Q&A

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September 23, 2021
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Ava Mason
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What is the relationship between alcohol and trauma?

TL;DR

Alcohol use and trauma-PTSD have a complex relationship, with alcohol potentially being used as self-medication for trauma-induced endorphin withdrawal.

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Key Insights

  • 🥺 Uncontrollable trauma releases endorphins in humans and animals, leading to a numbing effect.
  • 😒 Chronic alcohol use can compensate for the endorphin withdrawal that occurs after traumatic events.
  • 😒 Opioid receptor blockers may be useful in treating both alcohol use and PTSD.
  • 👨‍🔬 Trauma-PTSD and alcohol abuse have a complex relationship that requires further research.
  • ✳️ Different theories suggest that PTSD can be a risk factor for alcohol abuse, or alcohol abuse can increase the risk of traumatization.
  • 🅰️ The relationship between PTSD and alcohol abuse varies depending on trauma type and population.
  • ⏯️ Social and cultural factors play a role in alcohol use and its association with PTSD.

Questions & Answers

Q: How does alcohol affect the brain and why is it relevant to trauma-PTSD?

Alcohol affects the brain by increasing endorphin activity, which can compensate for the endorphin withdrawal that occurs after traumatic events and may be used as self-medication for trauma-PTSD.

Q: What is the relationship between alcohol use and trauma-PTSD?

The relationship is complex, with alcohol potentially being used to cope with PTSD symptoms through its effects on endorphin activity. Chronic alcohol use may also increase the risk of traumatization.

Q: Can treating PTSD and alcohol dependence simultaneously be effective?

Yes, because PTSD and alcohol dependence have a biological link, addressing both disorders together may lead to better outcomes. Therapy can help patients learn coping strategies for handling trauma reminders, and opioid receptor blockers may be beneficial in reducing cravings for alcohol.

Q: Does trauma-PTSD lead to alcohol use or vice versa?

There is evidence supporting both possibilities. PTSD can increase the risk of alcohol abuse as a method of self-medication, while alcohol abuse can lead to secondary traumatization and increase the risk of developing PTSD.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Alcohol compensates for the lack of endorphin activity that occurs after traumatic events, potentially leading to a cycle of alcohol use to cope with PTSD symptoms.

  • Treatment for PTSD and alcohol dependence may need to be addressed simultaneously, as they are biologically intertwined.

  • Opioid receptor blockers may be useful in treating both alcohol use and PTSD, as they can decrease endorphin cravings and reduce the desire for alcohol.

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