Drugs, Alcohol, and Soldiers… Is the mix making the PTSD problem worse, not better?

by | Apr 23, 2012


The following quote is from the above link and article written by RICHARD A. FRIEDMAN

Published: April 21, 2012 , New York Times

“Stimulants do much more than keep troops awake. They can also strengthen learning. By causing the direct release of norepinephrine — a close chemical relative of adrenaline — in the brain, stimulants facilitate memory formation. Not surprisingly, emotionally arousing experiences — both positive and negative — also cause a surge of norepinephrine, which helps to create vivid, long-lasting memories. That’s why we tend to remember events that stir our feelings and learn best when we are a little anxious.

Since PTSD is basically a pathological form of learning known as fear conditioning, stimulants could plausibly increase the risk of getting the disorder.”
I am the last person on earth to give advice on the use of prescription drugs!  But the red flags keep popping up, so to speak, on the problems connected with medications, especially when mixed with alcohol.  I have had my own terrible experiences with prescription drugs and would not wish it on my best friends or anybody for that matter.  Alcohol in particular, mixed with any kind of prescription stimulant or anti-depressant can cause side effects that are very dangerous.  All you have to do is read the information provided with the prescription medication on side effects, talk to your physician, or pharmacist and hear the same warnings.
I’m encouraged by the increased awareness discussed in the NY Times article and the research taking place to help us understand the consequences better.  The statistics show that far too many soldiers are getting medicated.  And all too often when on liberty from official duties alcohol plays a role.  I remember what happened to me until putting alcohol in my past.  My disposition worsened exponentially.  I write about this in my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  I stopped drinking almost 12 years ago, and haven’t had the terrible experiences of side effects since.  But still know that even changing anti-depressant medications requires physician supervision because of potential side effects even without alcohol.
Along with my own personal experience, and continued warnings and information on this subject is worrisome.  Please take care in using prescription drugs.  Please don’t mix with alcohol.  And please seek the advice of your physician and/or mental health professional while you make adjustments to taking medications of anykind.
Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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