Addiction is a disease that originates from a variety of factors that include environment, genetics, behavior, and experiences. Some of the environmental factors and experiences that could impact addiction are in the form of early life trauma.

The relationship between childhood trauma and substance abuse is complicated, but studies show that there is a link between the two. Fortunately, there is also specialized substance abuse treatment available for people who have experienced trauma.

What is “Trauma” and How Is It Caused?

As a psychological term, trauma refers to an event or situation with which a person is unable to successfully cope. It can create high levels of fear and make a person feel as if he or she is faced with imminent harm, either physically or mentally. A person who has suffered from trauma may feel other emotions such as confusion, powerlessness, betrayal, and loss. In some cases the feelings are temporary, but traumatic events can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can last years or even a lifetime.

Trauma is a personalized experience, so what is traumatic for one person may not be so for someone else. Children are especially susceptible to trauma as they rely on adults for their basic needs and can have their trust shaken instantly or over time. Some of the causes of childhood trauma include child abuse, neglect, bullying, and sexual assault. Even witnessing these acts can be harmful to a child. There is now evidence suggesting that substance abuse and childhood trauma may be linked.

The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Substance Abuse

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network reports that a person will begin using substances after they experience trauma 76 percent of the time. A more recent study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that there was a positive correlation between childhood abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) and adult substance abuse. Specifically, a study of more than 2,000 adults revealed that those who suffered from childhood trauma had a greater chance of abusing drugs and alcohol as adults.

Substance abuse is often used as a coping mechanism to deal with painful memories associated with abuse. Using drugs and alcohol is also a way to deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation, improve a sense of self-worth, and to cope with untreated mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

Substance abuse

If you are struggling with substance abuse related to trauma, there is specialized help available.

Get Help Now For Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders

Turning to drugs and alcohol is a risky way to deal with the negative emotions associated with abuse. As if substance abuse is not filled with enough danger, it can also lead to other risky behaviors that can threaten your safety, health, and relationships. Fortunately, there is a way to break free from these unhealthy behaviors with the help of a holistic substance abuse recovery program.

The Recovery Village understands the particular challenges faced by people who have suffered from past trauma and how this can impact addiction. Our treatment facility offers a range of services that includes medication-based therapy, treatment for co-occurring disorders, individual and group therapy, and family programs. Contact us now to speak with one of our addiction specialists and find out about how our personalized program can help you begin your walk on the pathway of recovery.

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Examining the Relationship between Childhood Trauma and Substance Abuse
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