Dissociation is usually a coping mechanism for pain and trauma. It’s a common symptom among people who have experienced trauma and/or have developed mental health disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While dissociation offers a temporary disconnect from the person’s source of stress, in the end, this type of ignorance is not bliss. To top it off, when alcohol is thrown into the mix, things can possibly get worse. Below is more on alcohol dissociation and whether it can occur.
What Is Dissociation?
Many people experience dissociation in life. If you dissociate, you may feel disconnected from yourself and the world around you. For instance, you may feel detached from your body or feel as if the world around you isn’t real. Dissociation is one way the mind may cope when it’s under too much stress, such as during a traumatic event.
Dissociation can occur either while the person is experiencing unbearable physical or emotional pain or years after the fact. During a highly stressful or painful situation, the brain may go into a protective mode where it detaches itself from what’s currently happening. The individual may feel as if they’re witnessing themselves from outside of their body or may completely blackout during the event with no recollection of what happened.
If you or someone you know has experienced trauma, it may be helpful to know the signs someone is dissociating:
- A blurred sense of identity
- A distorted or unusual perception of the people and things around you
- Feeling detached from yourself and your emotions
- Inability to cope well with emotional or professional stress
- Memory loss (amnesia) of certain time periods, events, people, and personal information
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Significant stress or problems in your relationships, work, or other important areas of your life
Although dissociation may seem like a form of protection in a severe moment of stress, in the end, it can get in the way of true healing. If you or someone you know has experienced trauma or believes to have experienced trauma, our Banyan Lake Worth rehab offers trauma recovery treatment that can help.
Is Alcohol a Dissociative?
What do alcohol and dissociation have in common? Oftentimes, because dissociation prevents true healing or truly blocks the person from the effects of trauma, many individuals who have experienced trauma will turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope. Ultimately, these behaviors provide the person the ability to distance themselves from the painful event, whether their mind protects itself from it or not.
For this reason, many people wonder whether alcohol itself is dissociative. In addition to certain behaviors, dissociatives also refer to a class of psychedelic drugs that cause dissociation, including substances like ketamine, PCP, and DXM. Alcohol is not a dissociative drug and, therefore, cannot cause dissociation.
Can Alcohol Cause Dissociation?
As we previously mentioned, drinking alcohol cannot cause dissociation as a symptom, unlike drugs in this class. Even so, alcohol dissociation can be considered a compensatory reaction in individuals with difficulties in identifying, expressing, and regulating emotions, including those who have experienced trauma.1 According to research, addictive behaviors – such as alcohol abuse – have a dissociative nature that allows individuals to manage negative and unregulated emotions.
Trauma, especially at a young age, can contribute to self-soothing through the use of drugs and alcohol, as well as addictive behaviors such as pornography, internet use, and gambling. Additionally, growing up in a household where alcohol abuse and addiction were present can be traumatic in itself. This can increase one’s likelihood of developing a drinking problem, as well.
Dissociation and alcohol are also linked through trauma, and alcohol abuse can actually act as a new source of trauma. This, in turn, can create new or continued episodes of dissociation. This is especially dangerous because the decision to dissociate is not a conscious one. It occurs when a person believes they’re in danger, even if they aren’t. Dissociation could also occur if the individual is exposed to stimuli that remind them of a traumatic event.
Therefore, abusing alcohol or other substances can further prevent an individual who’s experienced trauma from recovering from the event and learning how to stop dissociating and properly cope with the aftermath.
Help for Addiction and Dissociation at BHOPB
Because dissociation and trauma are related to mental illness, particularly PTSD, the presence of both dissociation and addiction is considered a co-occurring disorder. This means that both conditions require individualized care to ensure the individual receives the best possible chance at recovery.
Fortunately, our Lake Worth drug rehab offers co-occurring disorder treatment as well as individualized programs for addiction and mental illness in Florida. Our facility utilizes evidenced-based psychotherapy programs as well as holistic practices to aid clients in their recovery.
For more information about our mental health or addiction treatment in Lake Worth, call Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today at 561-220-3981 or send us your contact information, and one of our team members will reach out to you right away.