October 10, 2008

Alcohol, Drugs and Killing can Become Addictive

Combat can leave a veteran or soldier addicted to the rush of adrenaline that a survival environment and killing can bring. Upon returning home it could manifest in many ways, constructively such as in positive thrill seeking activities like skydiving, rock climbing, or scuba diving. Others may fall to the wayside and react negatively through drugs, alcohol, and compulsive and impulsive self destructive behavior. I initially turned to drinking to calm my nerves which intensified the feelings of rage, anger and self-loathing.

My PTSD started up right away, it was like someone had raised the lid of my vexation and released an emotional chameleon, I could hide in plane site or jump right out at ya. In the first two years I had several dissociative amnesia episodes and drank most everyday while nearly losing my sanity over the years. I had several occurrences of psychosis during moments of peak mental instability, and self medicated while I lived a life of madness for almost 14 years before I became convinced of the need for help. It took an attempt on my life to make me realize my condition was beyond going on without help.

In the beginning the anxiety I experienced was masked as bravado and a tough guy image feeding on the power that I felt from being aggressive, dominating and coercive. I would instigate situations where I could express my built up anxiety through aggression and engage violence as a repressing mechanism to once again become detached from self and my emotions. I remember always looking for a fight or some excuse to go off on an unsuspecting person to dispel the emotional pain that I was attempting to deny. As time went by this to became troublesome as a coping skill and contributed to my overall anxiety and self-loathing.

I do see people healing from the mental scars of warfare, from where I have been and what I have seen it takes years to do so. But, my journey has taken me down the self destructive path of addiction and violence. There have been many more people who have not done so and others of varying degrees, the percentage of troops who take a more constructive way of life outnumber the ones who do so negativity. Usually the soldiers and veterans who have strong attachments and identify with a family support system have less troubles reintegrating.

6 comments:

  1. I am the daughter of a World War II veteran who was an 82nd Airborne paratrooper. He was portrayed in The Longest Day, written about in a number of books, including those by Stephen Ambrose and featured in documentaries. However, no mention was made of his alcoholism, 3 marriages and near suicide. It wasn't until I was an adult and PTSD became an official diagnosis in 1980, that I realized the source of my father's problems. He was a good man, but struggled with his combat trauma. I have a blog, Legacy of War, at www.dutchschultz.blogspot.com which focuses on what the children of the veterans of past wars have experienced

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  2. Hey man, I just got turned on to your site...am dealing with a few things of my own, some Iraq-related, some lingering from earlier. Anyway, thanks for sharing your perspective. I'll keep reading.

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  3. Thank you, if you have any questions just ask. In the side bar you can find a section titled "A Suggested Guide to PTSD Management," this may help.

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  5. Thank you so much for this blog, I just found it. My spouse has just been admitted to the VA Medical Center, to be treated for Combat PTSD, after he had one of those drunken-psychotic episodes that you described. Unfortunately I was an innocent bystander that he happened to think was his enemy at the time... and I'm dealing with a lot right now. Fortunately, I escaped with my life and I know that some people aren't as fortunate. You are doing a good thing with blog, and I just wanted to let you know that. I know that there are a lot of people who need this support, because I'm one of them. I also know that there are those who will suffer in silence and there needs to be more advocacy to bring awareness to the public about PTSD.

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  6. I am grateful that you were able to escape your veterans psychotic episode. Many people do not understand the debilitating effects of Combat PTSD. I wold like to encourage you to look to the left sidebar where it says "FAMILY & FRIENDS RESOURCES" and look into some extremely helpful websites. Increase your support network, you will need. May God bless you.

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