Sober living

Dissociation and Substance Use

Treatment should include education, therapy, and support groups that help you with your drinking problems in a way you can accept. You may drink because using alcohol distracts you from your problems for a short time. You should know, though, that drinking makes it harder to concentrate, be productive, and enjoy your life.

These statistics show that people who abuse substances experience dissociative disorders at a higher rate than the general population. The present study measured chronic dissociation rather than acute and transient dissociative states. Although chronic dissociation contributes to difficulties in identifying feelings, chemically (alcohol-induced) transient dissociative states may be a paradoxical effort to identify and express feelings that are otherwise ptsd and alcohol abuse difficult to access. Thus, alcohol appears to influence the interplay between trauma, dissociation, and alexithymia. This interplay may be an important factor in the prevention and treatment of alcoholism in the addicted population. The study population was selected from patients with an alcohol problem who had consulted local Mental Health Departments clinics in a city of Southern Italy as well as individuals without the disorder who inhabited the city.

Dissociative Disorders and Substance Abuse

Psychological trauma (the occurrence or witnessing of an incident causing actual or threatened death or severe harm to oneself or others ) does not often result in long-term emotional distress or substance abuse. Rather, the victim’s ability to deal with the trauma determines the risk of negative outcomes.

  • About twenty percent of people enrolled in inpatient substance abuse programs have a comorbid dissociative disorder.
  • To be diagnosed with dissociation, your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms, take your medical history, perform a physical exam, and possibly order lab tests to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
  • People often report using alcohol to alleviate anxiety, irritability, and depression after a traumatic incident.
  • Wenzel K, Bernstein DP, Handelsman L, Rinaldi P, Ruggiero J, Higgins B. Levels of dissociation in detoxified substance abusers and their relationship to chronicity of alcohol and drug use.

Addiction and dissociation can be strongly linked, so treating both conditions simultaneously can be critical to helping a person make a full recovery following a treatment program for substance use. Healing from trauma and learning how to manage symptoms of trauma will not only help to reduce symptoms of dissociation, it can also help the person to stop using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Finding Rehab for Complex PTSD and Substance Abuse

They were compared on trauma- and substance-related symptoms, cognitions, coping skills, social adjustment, trauma history, psychiatric symptoms, and self-harm/suicidal behaviors. We found the high-dissociation group consistently more impaired than the low-dissociation group. Also, the sample overall evidenced relatively high levels of dissociation, indicating that even in the presence of recent substance use, dissociation remains a major psychological phenomenon. Indeed, the high-dissociation group reported stronger expectation that substances could manage their psychiatric symptoms. The high-dissociation group also had more trauma-related symptoms and childhood histories of emotional abuse and physical neglect. Discussion addresses methodology, the “chemical dissociation” hypothesis, and the need for more nuanced understanding of how substances are experienced in relation to dissociative phenomena. Aside from the many complications that come from chronic disassociation, dissociative disorders increase the risk of several other mental illnesses and symptoms including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts.

Forgetting parts of a drive home or having an “out of body experience,” in which you have a feeling of watching yourself at a distance, are also forms of dissociation. A primary sign of PTSD is the avoidance of unwanted or painful experiences. As a result, it is very common for people suffering from PTSD and alcohol or other drugs. Researchers coined the phrase “happy hour effect” to describe how, even among casual drinkers alcohol consumption rises after, but not during, stressful situations. Based on a tension-reduction theory of alcohol usage, these findings were the polar opposite of what we predicted. If alcohol is used primarily to relieve anxiety, it should be consumed more often during stressful periods rather than afterward.

Study Sample

Combat exposure is a common source of trauma, and these wounds may not heal on their own. The VA estimates that 11-20% of the veterans deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan may have PTSD. These individuals are at higher risk to engage in unhealthy behaviors like blackout drinking, particularly if they are not receiving mental health support. Dealing with military-related trauma, whether it’s PTSD, combat trauma, or sexual trauma, may be too much to handle on your own. Often, veterans feel that they have to rely on alcohol to cope with the invisible wounds of war. And among veterans, unhealthy habits, like frequent blackout drinking, can have profoundly negative effects across all facets of life. Findings highlight the need to routinely assess for alcohol-related consequences among OEF/OIF veterans in order to address an important mechanism through which PTSD symptoms may lead to poor MHRQoL.