4 Signs that You Are Using Alcohol to Cover Up PTSD

Veterans are more likely to have mental and physical health problems compared to non-veterans. For many of them, their experiences include witnessing deaths and facing life-threatening situations. When some get home, they develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which can lead to other problems, including alcoholism. If you think there’s a problem, recognize the signs of alcohol dependency before it gets any worse.


1. Denial

Like many people, you tend to cover up problems that you have. If it involves alcohol, you hide bottles around the house and are careful where to dispose of empty ones. You are careful to hide expenses and quick to lie about your activities. You easily get angry or defensive if confronted with this problem. Denial is a side effect of shame that is only associated with people who feel guilty about their behavior. Denial is the first symptom that you have a problem with alcohol.


2. Financial Problems

Alcoholism is an expensive vice. Pocket Sense gives this example: “Even the alcoholic who drinks in moderation can expect to pay a large amount of money to finance her vice. For example, say an alcoholic consumes two six packs of domestic beer a week. Supposing that the beer costs $5 per six pack, the alcoholic can expect to spend more than $500 per year on alcohol costs. Heavier drinkers or those who drink in bars can expect to spend many times this.” If you’re developing an alcoholic habit, you’ll notice major changes in your bank account or credit card bill. The money that you saved for important activities will go toward the purchase of alcohol. Take note if you ever find yourself dipping into the savings account to compensate for losses in the checking account. Borrowing money is another sign of trouble. You may ask friends or relatives for money to pay for this month’s rent. At this stage, many veterans are in their worst situations and on the brink of being homeless.


3. DUIs

Drunk driving is a major societal problem that kills drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians every year. A DUI offense is another sign of an alcohol addiction and it’s a behavior that has major consequences. The Moorhead Law Group explains it this way: “You risk losing your driver’s license as well as gaining a criminal record, which can affect your ability to get a job or apply for a loan. Most people assume that because this is their first offense, they won’t be punished. However, depending on the amount of alcohol in your system, you can lose your driver’s license for up to nine months and end up in jail, even if it is your first offense.” Many alcoholics have DUIs that they accumulate over the years. Some people are bailed out of jail immediately, while others languish in their cells for months. Even if you avoid driving drunk, constantly asking for designated drivers may still be a sign that something’s wrong.


4. Flashback Drinking

People suffering from PTSD may have flashbacks that occur often. These flashbacks could be the same traumatic memory that the person experiences as a vivid reality every few months, daily, or even several times a day. If you drink after flashbacks, this may be a serious sign of alcohol addiction. Although it’s important to confront and erase the painful memory in order to move on with a more normal life, doing it with alcohol is not the solution. According to Disorder.org, “As alcohol tends to produce a calming effect when consumed, [so] it can be easy for a person to turn to drinking in the face of flashback episodes, but is PTSD a reason to keep drinking when flashbacks keep re-occurring? Since alcohol’s effects only work to aggravate the underlying problem, the answer is no.


Veterans face many problems when they come home, such as homelessness and substance abuse. Many have PTSD that results in panic attacks and traumatic flashbacks. These flashbacks may be causing you to drink too much alcohol, too often. The first step is to accept that you have a problem in the first place. Then, reach out for help. Seek out family, friends, support groups, and Wounded Warriors. You’re not alone.

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