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Can Painful Memories of Trauma Lead to Addiction?

What are the leading causes to addiction? Some people say addiction can be caused by genetics, peer pressure, poverty, and mass amounts of stress. Although all of these can certainly play a role, one factor is known to have a bigger impact.

You’ve probably heard stories about survivors of child abuse who become addicted to drugs or alcohol, or maybe veterans who suffer from PTSD that struggle with addiction. Incidents like these are more common than some may think. In fact, 75% of men and women who receive treatment for substance abuse report histories of abuse and trauma. 

Many of us have “taken the edge off” after a long and stressful day before, and sometimes we feel more relaxed and forget about our troubles for the night after a few beers or glasses of wine. So it makes sense that people who have suffered from a traumatic event use drugs or alcohol to help numb their pain.

If the different forms of trauma below are relatable to you or a loved one struggling with addiction, this could be the underlying cause of the addiction. If this is the case, it’s essential to receive treatment for not only the addiction but for the trauma as well.

Unresolved Traumatic Events from Childhood Can Hinder Long-Term Recovery

It’s not uncommon for survivors of childhood trauma to still be affected by the traumatic events they experienced in their adulthood. Why is childhood trauma so impactful? It’s because the frequent and high levels of stress that occur while a child experiences a traumatic event can impede brain development. Results from several studies have proven that these high stress levels cause victims of childhood trauma to be more vulnerable to substance abuse later on in life.

Being physically or sexually abused, neglected, or experiencing other forms of trauma can affect anyone at any age. But experiencing these traumatic events as a child affects them differently than adults.

It’s much more impactful for children because they rely on their parents, or other members of their family that they trust, for protection and guidance. If these family members abuse that trust or are the cause of the trauma, the child no longer has a support system that they desperately need.

When there’s a foundation of toxic stress and trauma while a child’s brain is still developing, it basically wires their brain differently. This makes it much more difficult to grow and function normally as a child, and later on in adulthood as well.

It definitely makes sense that victims of childhood trauma feel shame, sorrow, and deal with anxiety and depression, right? These survivors usually need comfort, and a common source of comfort for them can be drugs and alcohol. This makes even more sense when victims of childhood trauma have learned that comfort can’t be found with those they are supposed to be able to trust.

Did you know that survivors of childhood trauma are seven to 10 times more likely to be addicted to drugs or alcohol? 

It can seem impossible to recover from childhood trauma and addiction, but you or a loved one have options. Many treatment centers, including Skywood Recovery, offer dual-diagnosis treatment that aims to treat the addiction along with underlying causes, such as trauma or mental illness.

If you’re a survivor of childhood trauma, it can be very difficult to openly talk about what you went through. It’s important to realize that you aren’t alone and the trauma you experienced is not your fault! In 2017, there were 149,114 alleged cases of child abuse and neglect in Michigan, and it’s highly likely for many of these survivors to engage in risky behaviors, including abusing drugs or alcohol because of their trauma.

Recent Traumatic Events Occurring in Adulthood Can Link to Addiction

Adulthood trauma may not sound as familiar to you, but it’s very real and can cause serious issues in one’s life.

Do you have a friend or a loved one who was sexually assaulted as an adult? Or do you know someone who unexpectedly lost a loved one, or someone who was involved in a deadly car accident? Chances are, if you know someone who experienced a traumatic event in their adulthood, they could be turning to alcohol or drugs during their grieving process.

After someone goes through something traumatic, it’s normal for them to experience painful flashbacks of the traumatic incident, panic attacks, outbursts of anger, and feeling numb emotionally in the wake of their trauma.

You now know that victims of childhood trauma sometimes engage in risky behaviors in their adulthood due to their trauma. But did you know that adulthood trauma can cause more damage to an older person’s health than childhood trauma? 

Childhood and adulthood trauma can both cause a lot of damage to one’s health at various stages of life. This is why it’s so important for you or a loved one to seek professional help after a traumatic event occurs. If survivors of trauma are not treated, it’s likely that they don’t know how to cope in healthy ways and may turn to drugs or alcohol for comfort instead. If you’re worried about a loved one who has experienced a traumatic event, it may be time for them to seek treatment.If you think now is the right time for a loved one to receive professional help, call Skywood Recovery at 269.280.4673 for compassionate trauma-informed care. 

Veterans with a PTSD Diagnosis are Vulnerable to Addiction

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that war can be one of the most traumatic events a person can go through. But just how many veterans are affected by trauma due to their experiences in war, and how likely is it for them to turn to drugs or alcohol?

About one in three veterans who seek treatment for substance abuse disorders also suffers from PTSD. Unsurprisingly, most trauma veterans go through is from combat experience.

Many veterans struggle in daily life when they go back home, and sometimes use drugs or alcohol to numb their pain. There are also other layers to this issue that you may not know about. For example, did you know that one in four female veterans have been sexually assaulted during their time in the military? This trauma can also cause PTSD. 

Another layer to this complex issue is how likely it is for veterans to be addicted to anxiety or pain medications that are prescribed to them due to their PTSD diagnoses. Veterans can become addicted to medications like OxyContin, Xanax, Vicodin, and Ambien.

These drugs can offer an escape from the trauma veterans are still experiencing in their minds, but this is not a healthy way of coping with trauma. If an addiction has developed along with suffering from PTSD, it’s important to reach out for dual diagnosis treatment, which aims to treat both disorders.

An addiction center that offers dual diagnosis treatment, like Skywood Recovery, can help veterans recover from addiction, cope with their trauma and mental health. Getting to the underlying cause of addiction is essential to have a chance at long-term recovery.

Where Can You Turn for Addiction and Trauma Treatment?

Admitting that you’ve gone through something traumatic isn’t easy for anyone. Opening up about abuse, neglect, PTSD, a loved one passing unexpectedly, and other forms of trauma takes a lot of bravery.

Skywood Recovery offers dual diagnosis treatment and trauma-informed care that can help you or a loved one move on from past trauma and recover from an addiction. Our master’s level clinicians can help you or a loved one get back on track.

Being in the hands of the highly experienced and compassionate staff underneath serene Augusta skies can help the transition to sobriety an easier one. Call Skywood Recovery today at 269.280.4673 to help you or a loved one recover from trauma and addiction.