Post-traumatic stress disorder or (PTSD) is commonly associated with military personnel who have experienced traumatic events while on active duty causing them to have difficulty adapting or functioning in civilian life once they return home. The truth is, this is common among veterans, but can affect anyone who has experienced trauma for which they have not achieved resolution. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), approximately 20 million veterans suffer from PTSD. PTSD is by definition, a mental health condition that is triggered by an event perceived by the individual to be traumatic such as witnessing an act of violence or experiencing a severe physical or emotional injury (APA, 2013). Symptoms include recurrences of the event known as flashbacks, night terrors, and debilitating anxiety (APA, 2013). These symptoms are sometimes associated with excessive alcohol or drug abuse, aggressive behavior, and difficulty concentrating (APA, 2013).
The case up for review involves a middle aged African American male who happens to also be a veteran by the name of William Thompson. William served in the military as a captain in the Iraq war. After discharge he began abusing alcohol which placed his employment at risk and as a result had to move in with his brother and family for support (Laureate Education, 2012a). During his interview, William appears distracted and unable to focus. He identifies himself as the Uncle and claims that his family says he has PTSD but does not take ownership of this accusation (Laureate Education, 2012a).
This behavior mimics the criteria for PTSD. There are various therapeutic methods which can be implemented for William’s condition. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) for PTSD and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for both PTSD and alcohol abuse (Wheeler, 2014). According to Wheeler (2014), EMDR is used to eliminate negative emotions that are paired with the memories of the traumatic event by focusing less on the trauma of the event but more on the negative feelings that stem from the event by performing eye movement exercises. CBT focuses on lessening difficult behaviors that trigger or may be linked to the alcohol abuse. Since William has not displayed enough of the symptoms that are usually accompanied with PTSD, medication is not indicated but may be after a more thorough evaluation is completed. Psychotherapy is recommended to explore the feelings that may trigger the alcohol abuse (Khan et al., 2018). In response to these therapy methods, the expected outcomes are that William will recognize that he has an issue and be more open to the needed therapy while developing the ability to refrain from abusing alcohol. EMDR and CBT are markedly advantageous in helping clients with alcohol abuse disorders to identify and replace these behaviors with a healthy alternative (Acosta al., 2017).
Acosta, M. C., Possemato, K., Maisto, S. A., Marsch, L. A., Barrie, K., Lantinga, L., … & Rosenblum, A. (2017). Web-delivered CBT reduces heavy drinking in OEF-OIF veterans in primary care with symptomatic substance use and PTSD. Behavior therapy, 48(2), 262-276.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Khan, A. M., Dar, S., Ahmed, R., Bachu, R., Adnan, M., & Kotapati, V. P. (2018). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy versus Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing in Patients with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Cureus, 10(9).
Laureate Education (Producer). (2012a). Academic year in residence: Thompson family case study [Multimedia file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Wheeler, K. (Ed.). (2014). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse: A how-to guide for evidence-based practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.