August is Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Awareness Month
People with substance abuse problems often also have PTSD, according to an US Department of Veterans Affairs article. Up to 75 percent of those who survived abusive or violent trauma report drinking problems, the report says. Those who have been sexually abused have higher rates of alcohol and drug use problems than others, said the National Center for PTSD.
The rub: Alcohol abuse often leads to more trauma, problems in relationships
In other words, it’s not enough that we’re already jacked up. No, no. If our coping mechanism for masking the pain of past trauma isn’t enough of a problem by itself, we are so wounded that whether we realize it, substance abuse opens ourselves up for even more trauma. Clearly, it’s a very vicious cycle.
Between 60 percent to 80 percent of Vietnam veterans seeking PTSD treatment have alcohol use problems, and tend to be binge drinkers, which may be in response to flashbacks, the article says. “The confusion of a life with a drinking problem makes it harder to be a good parent,” the article reports.
Up to 50 percent of adults with a dual diagnosis, i.e., PTSD and substance use disorder (SUD), are likely to have other serious mental or physical health problems such as:
- Panic attacks, extreme fears or worries, or compulsions, e.g., being driven to do things like checking the door locks over and over;
- Mood problems such as depression;
- Attention problems or behaving in ways that harm others;
- Addiction to or abuse of street or prescription drugs (such as opioids);
- Long-term physical illness such as diabetes, heart disease, or liver disease; and
- Ongoing physical pain.
I experimented with drugs because I was desperate to fit in. Whatever you were having, I wanted too. The first time I thought I bought drugs was my freshman year in an all-girls Catholic high school. I went to a sophomore and asked if she could score me some “grass.” The next day, I gave her $10 and she gave me a bag of lawn clippings. This was merely a delay.
Eventually, I would “sell” my body for Johnny Walker Red and Coke to get hammered before school then do things I shouldn’t have during second period band class. I eventually smoked pot and PCP, snorted cocaine. For some reason I declined crack, likely the sanest decision I ever made given my heavy drug proclivities.
My drink of choice was Tequila poppers. At one party, I and a girlfriend drank almost an entire bottle by ourselves. One co-worker noticed we were hammered so he tried to get us to stay longer so we wouldn’t drive home drunk. I lived down the street to I drove home drunk, one of two occasions I drove home from a party hammered. I should have been pulled over for DUI. Obviously, God had a different, more merciful plan.
“As long as you always have pot, Babe”
I got married because not only was sex amazing but he always had pot. I knew I’d never have to beg and sex was awesome while stoned or drunk. Basically, I entered into a marriage to exchange my body for drugs on a long-term basis. He always rolled me a joint while he smoked two.
I tried to keep up with my alcoholic, drug-addict husband but it was impossible. I was lightweight compared to him. He had several tales of drug expeditions during high school, scouting, military service tours and beyond. However, I eventually learned he had incest in his childhood in addition to physical and emotional abuse from his parents and siblings. Clearly, he also had very good reason for addiction.
Fortunately, I could drop the drugs and alcohol in a heartbeat. My husband couldn’t.
Posts in 2017 series
Breaking the cycle of loneliness takes work
Go outside and play on PWPTSD Awareness Day
Women, Blacks, Latinos have higher rates of abuse
Managing compound-complex parenting
Drinkin’ and druggin’ make parenting even harder
Risky behavior, self neglect aren’t life sentences
When food becomes a weapon
Managing rage, ground rules around kids
Managing hostile relatives, false accusations, head games
Parenting: If it’s not hard, you’re not doing it right
Third Annual Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Awareness Day is here!