Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe mental condition resulting from a single or repeated event that has a super-powerful negative impact on the individual’s psyche. The disorder may be accompanied by other psychological problems, including addictions (American Psychiatric Association, 2022). Alcohol use disorder, in turn, is one of the most common types of substance abuse, characterized by a loss of control over the amount of alcohol consumed and an increase in tolerance to it (American Psychiatric Association, 2022).
Alcoholism is the most common secondary disorder in PTSD. According to research, 63% of veterans who qualify for AUD also qualify for PTSD. In turn, 76% of veterans with PTSD meet the criteria for AUD (Taylor et al., 2017). The problem of joint treatment of these two syndromes is relevant and requires detailed study.
In a systemic analysis of seven articles that looked at drug therapy for PTSD and AUD, it was found that such treatment effectively reduces the adverse effects of alcohol consumption (Taylor et al., 2017). Unfortunately, these have not been effective in treating PTSD. Some success has been achieved when combining psychotherapy (prolonged exposure or supportive counseling) with naltrexone (Taylor et al., 2017). Research shows that behavioral therapies such as exposure-based interventions may effectively treat AUD and PTSD together (Flanagan et al., 2018).
Considering patients with comorbid PTSD and AUD therapist have to understand that such a case is common, but therapy is complicated. It should not be limited to drug therapy, as it is not effective against PTSD in this case. It is reasonable to assume that PTSD is the primary disease and should be treated first. However, the best choice would be to combine therapy for both diseases simultaneously. Therapy should include medications such as naltrexone and psychotherapy such as prolonged exposure.
American Psychiatric Association. (2022). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed., text rev.). Web.
Flanagan, J. C., Jones, J. L., Jarnecke, A. M., & Back, S. E. (2018). Behavioral treatments for alcohol use disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Alcohol research: current reviews, 39(2), 181–192.
Taylor, M., Petrakis, I., & Ralevski, E. (2017). Treatment of alcohol use disorder and co-occurring PTSD. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 43(4), 391–401. Web.