Health & Safety

April 5, 2013

Weed Army Community Hospital Infection Prevention Program update

Post traumatic stress disorders do not automatically cause problems with alcohol use; there are many people with PTSD who do not have problems with alcohol. However, PTSD and alcohol together can be serious trouble for the trauma survivor and his or her family. Symptoms of PTSD often are worsened by alcohol use.

•Although alcohol can provide a temporary feeling of distraction and relief, it also reduces the ability to concentrate, enjoy life and be productive

• Excessive alcohol use can impair one’s ability to sleep restfully and to cope with trauma memories and stress

•Alcohol use and intoxication also increases emotional numbing, social isolation, anger and irritability, depression, and the feeling of needing to be on guard (hyper vigilance)

• Alcohol use disorders reduce the effectiveness of PTSD treatment

Many individuals with PTSD experience sleep disturbances (trouble falling asleep or problems with waking up frequently after falling asleep). When a person with PTSD experiences sleep disturbances, using alcohol as a way to self-medicate becomes a double-edged sword. Alcohol use may appear to help symptoms of PTSD because the alcohol may decrease the severity and number of frightening nightmares commonly experienced in PTSD. However, alcohol use may, on the other hand, continue the cycle of avoidance found in PTSD, making it ultimately much more difficult to treat PTSD because the client’s avoidance behavior prolongs the problems being addressed in treatment. Also, when a person withdraws from alcohol, nightmares often increase.

Individuals with a combination of PTSD and alcohol use problems often have additional mental or physical health problems. As many as 10-50 percent of adults with alcohol use disorders and PTSD also have one or more of the following serious disorders:

• Anxiety disorders (such as panic attacks, phobias, incapacitating worry, or compulsions)

• Mood disorders (such as major depression or a dysthymic disorder)

• Disruptive behavior disorders (such as attention deficit or antisocial personality disorder)

• Addictive disorders (such as addiction to or abuse of street or prescription drugs)

• Chronic physical illness (such as diabetes, heart disease, or liver disease)

• Chronic physical pain due to physical injury/illness or due to no clear physical cause

(Information for this article gathered from a fact sheet courtesy of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Department of Veterans Affairs)

 

Prevention

To help prevent the spread of RSV, people who have cold-like symptoms should:

• Cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

• Wash their hands often with soap and water for 15–20 seconds

• Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils with others

• Refrain from kissing others

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention




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