HUNGER FOR WHOLENESS II: PTSD As a Source of Addiction, BEAMLiFE as a Source of Solution
Joseph Volipicelli (2000, p. 256) and his research team, came to the conclusion in their study “The Role of Uncontrollable Trauma in the Development of PTSD and Alcohol Addiction,” that PTSD can develop in people who have experienced one or more life-threatening situations where they were unable to protect themselves, or control the outcome of the traumatic event. Childhood abuse is an example of a continuation of such events. Their study also gave reason to believe that alcohol addiction could be a logical end-product of PTSD.
Put another way, the study says that symptoms like depression, irritability, and anxiety stem from trauma. Volipicelli also informs us that while the trauma occurs, the brain increases the endorphin level to sustain a numbing effect for the organism’s emotional and physical agony. As the trauma arousal lessens, the endorphin level decreases and has the potential to create a sense of withdrawal that can be physically and emotionally charged (2000, 256).
Since the side effects from decreasing activity in the endorphin production can be replaced with alcohol, drinking seems like a logical way of medicating the withdrawals. If we take away the alcohol and do not supply the addicts with any other support or solution to cope with their lives, we leave them with no choice but to go back to what they already know, self-medicating with alcohol. Volipicelli’s study illustrates the viscous cycle effecting addicts without extended support. The BEAM LiFE Process is one example of treatment which can support the alcoholics to learn how to live in their body and with themselves without alcohol.
As an example, we can read about Margret, a woman who comes from a dysfunctional family with alcohol and physical abuse. Her experience after a few days without alcohol left her vigilant about her environment, often irritated and jumpy. Margret would overreact when ignited by the slightest reminders about her past trauma, which included severe beatings and sexual abuse, two identified causes for PTSD.
In her desperate struggles to stop using, Margret had made ten attempts towards treating her alcoholism. Although at the age of thirty-eight, she had not found a solution to cope with the memories and nightmares that haunted her in sobriety, and each time retreated to drinking. (2000, p. 256) If Margaret’s diagnose does not go beyond alcoholism, and if the needed healing for her trauma is ignored, she will only be treated for her physical addiction.
Therefore, Margret will continue to have these conditions in sobriety, which without specialized support will become too overwhelming to cope with. She will more than likely go back to numbing the withdrawals, memories, and nightmares, and once again anesthetize herself with alcohol. Using drugs and alcohol to sooth the pain from adverse events makes absolute sense for people who see no other options. Margret’s case is a perfect example of maltreatments of alcoholics who unmistakably have suffered trauma and developed symptoms of PTSD, a valid evidence to support my argument. More on this on Fri.