The Connection Between Trauma and Addiction

Trauma and Addiction

How are Trauma and Addiction Related:

Unfortunately, traumatic events happen on a too frequent basis, impacting the overall well-being of victims and leaving them to deal with the aftermath on emotional, mental, and physical grounds. Trauma causes the mind and body to find ways to cope with a wide-range of emotions, from shock to sadness, and from anxiety to confusion. While coping is the mind’s way of addressing a particular psychological stressor at hand, which can be either positive (such as the birth of a child or a marriage) or negative (such as illness, divorce, or death), when traumatic events occur individuals often turn to maladaptive coping techniques. These include addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, and sex in an attempt to repress the onset of unwanted thoughts and emotions brought on by the trauma. This is where trauma and addiction coexist. Trauma may not always lead to an addictive situation, but extensive research indicates that there is a strong correlation between trauma and addiction. For example, The National Center for PTSD found the following statistic:

Almost 75% of individuals who receive treatment for substance abuse also have a history of exposure to trauma. Inversely, it has been found that individuals who have suffered assault or sexual abuse are 3x as likely to abuse drugs and/or alcohol.

Several other studies support this dangerous relationship between addiction and trauma.

Understanding the Relationship:

A reaction to traumatic events is individualized and revolves around a person’s environment and support system at the time of the trauma, as well as their upbringing and past experiences with trauma. When an individual turns to drugs and alcohol as a separator between their consciousness and a traumatic event, they are dealing with their emotions by way of a short-term solution. This ultimately makes it more difficult to heal in the long-term. It could be said that the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is the dominating mindset when an individual chooses to use a substance as a coping mechanism. Often, when alcohol or drugs are used to offset the traumatic effects, the pain might be held at bay for a time but awaits the sufferer in full force when the ‘anesthesia’ wears off. For many, the key to recovery is identifying the when, where, and why an addiction started and in addressing the situation that caused the addiction at its root.

Integrative Life Center offers services and resources to combat trauma related addiction through safe and healthy treatment options. Trauma knows no bounds—neither age nor gender–and Integrative Life Center has tailored treatment services for all. Click the corresponding links to learn more about our Trauma and PTSD treatment, evidence-based addiction treatment, or dual diagnosis treatment options and services. If you or someone you know struggles with trauma related addiction, contact Integrative Life Center to learn more about our treatment options and plans.