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Alcohol and trauma

Trauma is an emotional response to a very negative or disturbing event.

For example:

  • abuse
  • loss
  • witnessing a death
  • a near-death experience

How trauma feels

Everyone experiences trauma in their own way.

Some common experiences include:

  • feeling helpless
  • sleeplessness 
  • feeling anxious and restless
  • fear
  • sadness
  • anger or violence
  • guilt

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks.

Related topic

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Alcohol and trauma

It's normal to want to avoid negative or unpleasant feelings.

Alcohol may give some temporary relief from the symptoms of trauma.

Over time, relying on alcohol can reduce your ability to cope with stress and anxiety. It will not sort out the impact of the trauma. You may come to rely on alcohol.

In the long run, relying on alcohol can make things worse. It may prevent you from getting the support you need to recover from your trauma.

If you are worried about your alcohol use, take our alcohol test to find out what type of drinker you are.

Dealing with trauma

Some healthy ways to deal with trauma include:

Connect counselling

Connect provides counselling for abuse, trauma or neglect in childhood. To speak to a counsellor freephone 1800 477 477  or 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland.

page last reviewed: 08/11/2019
next review due: 08/11/2022

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