First Advisor

Ashley Fricks-Gleason

Second Advisor

Amy Schreier


Rona McCall


Regis College

Degree Name


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

70 pages


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will affect approximately eight out of every hundred individuals at some point in their lifetime. One major issue accompanying PTSD is alcohol abuse—estimated rates of alcohol abuse in persons with PTSD vary from 30-75 percent. Environmental enrichment (EE) has been shown to decrease voluntary alcohol consumption as well as decrease anxiety levels post-stress. As such, EE could be a potential treatment mechanism for co-morbid PTSD and alcohol abuse. Our independent research into the effectiveness of EE at attenuating post-stress alcohol consumption in male Sprague Dawley rats validates this idea. Rats were stressed and then given intermittent access to 20% ethanol via the 2-bottle-choice drinking paradigm for three weeks. Rats in EE consumed significantly less ethanol, relative to controls. Anecdotal evidence from survivors of trauma suggests that such findings could be translated into the human populations with PTSD, such as through travel, religion, and other forms of meaning making. Further, environmental enrichment surpasses other treatments as it seeks to “care for the whole person”—the Jesuit value of cura personalis—by attending to both their mind and body. This paper will discuss the explicit effects of PTSD, the specifics of our independent research, and the detailed implications of our results for the human population. As a caring and compassionate society, we have the responsibility to conduct further research to help to expand our knowledge of symptoms and vulnerabilities associated with PTSD and alcohol dependence, to harness valuable and effective treatment mechanisms.

Date of Award

Spring 2018

Location (Creation)

Colorado (state); Denver (county); Denver (inhabited place)

Rights Statement

All content in this Collection is owned by and subject to the exclusive control of Regis University and the authors of the materials. It is available only for research purposes and may not be used in violation of copyright laws or for unlawful purposes. The materials may not be downloaded in whole or in part without permission of the copyright holder or as otherwise authorized in the “fair use” standards of the U.S. copyright laws and regulations.