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Seeking help with alcoholism and PTSD

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CAMP RIPLEY — Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.

“Problem drinking is a concern in our military today. But problem drinking coupled with other problems like PTSD can lead to devastating individual, family and community consequences,” said Maj. John Donovan, Camp Ripley spokesperson.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression is often seen among veterans. If left untreated, the Mayo Clinic advises that PTSD may lead to drug and alcohol abuse. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, around three-quarters of Vietnam War veterans suffering from lifelong PTSD are dependent on drugs or alcohol. While these substances may be used to cope with PTSD, a research paper published in The Journal of the American Medical Association highlights that dependency on these is linked to worse mental health and poorer recovery from both conditions.

Fortunately, a variety of treatment options exist for those who may be suffering from PTSD or chemical dependency. VA medical centers have doctors who specialize in the treatment of both conditions. Nearby centers are located in Minneapolis, St. Cloud, Sioux Falls and Fargo.

Additional support may also be found at the National Alliance for Mental Health Minnesota; the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255; and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous at 415-499-0400.

“If addressed and treated, PTSD and alcoholism need not impact a person’s military career. In today’s military we encourage soldiers to seek help and address their problems. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness — it is a sign of strength and courage,” Donovan said.