The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio is initiating a study to find a way to treat combat veterans who suffer from both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and alcoholism.
Dr. John Roache is a professor with the Department of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the UT Health Science Center and is leading the study.
Roache said Wednesday it's very common for veterans who experience that traumatic life event, to have other problems too, including the use of substances like alcohol.
"There's a need for to address both conditions, both the PTSD and heavy, obsessive alcohol consumption," said Roache. "The problem is you don't have treatment that is well designed to deal with both problems."
Roache said that is why they put together a study to determine how to treat both conditions at the same time.
The new study requires patients with combat-related post traumatic stress to attend weekly therapy sessions that deal with both PTSD and alcoholism.
Also, some patients in the study are given a drug, while others are given a placebo.
"No one treatment is going to equally benefit everybody, said Roache. "Different patients have different needs. So what we are trying to do is identify which treatment works for which people."
Jerry Thornton, a study participant, served in the Army for 12 and a half years and was deployed to Iraq during Desert Storm.
However, when he came back, he said he had a hard time coping.
"I had strong outbursts of anger," said Thornton. "And for that reason, I kept myself isolated to avoid things such as road rage."
After the three-month study, Thornton said he felt like he got his life back.
"To do the things that you had no idea that you could do, to live in a manner where you are totally free," said Thornton. "And to have the ability to actually love again."
Right now, researchers are in the middle of their study. They will continue for another year and they are still recruiting veterans.
If you'd like to participate, call the study coordinator at the UT Health Science Center at 210-562-5400. You can also find more information on the study at www.strongstar.org.