a woman suffering from PTSD and alcohol dependence

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Alcohol Dependence

There are many risk factors that come into play when a person develops an alcohol dependence. Both environmental and biological influences play a role in addiction. One of the environmental risk factors that can be very powerful in this relationship is past experience with trauma. It is unclear how trauma affects the decision-making process involved with alcohol dependence. Additionally, researchers are still unsure as to whether it is the PTSD or the trauma that individuals experience that directly causes alcohol dependence. However, it is clear that there is a strong correlation between the two. Individuals who experience exposure to trauma are at a much higher risk of developing alcohol dependence. Read on to learn more about the findings of the study and about the correlation between PTSD and alcohol dependence.

The Relationship Between PTSD and Alcohol Dependence

A study published by Carolyn E. Sartor and colleagues examines the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol dependence in women. The researchers sought to distinguish PTSD-specific influences on alcohol dependence from the contribution of co-occurring psychiatric conditions and from the influences more generally associated with trauma.

The researchers conducted this study by having telephone interviews with 3,768 female twins. During the study, they assessed the trauma histories of the patients their mental health illnesses. These included PTSD and alcohol dependence. The researches used the data to categorize the participants into three categories:

  • No trauma (43.7 percent)
  • Trauma without PTSD (52.6 percent)
  • Trauma with PTSD (3.7 percent)

Then, they analyzed the data they found with Cox proportional hazards regression. Using this data, they used trauma and PTSD status to predict alcohol dependence. The researchers first adjusted only for ethnicity and parental problem drinking. The second adjustment included analysis of conduct disorder, major depressive disorder, regular smoking, and cannabis use.

Those with PTSD More Likely to Form Dependence

The results of the study indicated that before researchers accounted for psychiatric variables, elevated rates of alcohol dependence exist in both groups who experienced trauma. Those with PTSD are much more likely to develop alcohol dependence compared to those who do not have PTSD. However, this distinction was not consistent once researchers included psychiatric variables in the analysis. The trauma-exposed groups both continued to show an elevated risk of developing alcohol dependence compared with those who had no history of trauma.

How Trauma Plays a Role

Studies show that women with a history of trauma are at a much higher risk of forming alcohol dependence. Psychiatric conditions that tend to co-occur with alcohol dependence and exposure to trauma do not directly explain this relationship. However, the researchers believe that individuals who are exposed to trauma have higher levels of distress in their lives which results in them developing PTSD. Therefore, trauma-exposed individuals are much more likely to form an alcohol dependence whether they suffer from PTSD or not.

While the results indicate that PTSD greatly influences the likelihood that a woman who had experienced trauma will develop alcohol dependence, it is unclear whether the risk is directly associated with PTSD or the trauma that led to PTSD. Further research may be required to examine the types and severity of trauma that increase the risk of PTSD and therefore increase the risk of forming an alcohol dependence.

How The Ranch TN Can Help with Trauma and PTSD

If you would like to learn more about how trauma and other mental illnesses play a role in developing alcohol dependence, contact us at 1.844.876.7680 to learn more. The Ranch TN and our trained professionals are here to answer any questions you have about the relationship between trauma and alcohol dependence. If you have an alcohol dependence, contact us to learn more about our treatment process.

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