There are many contributing factors to addiction, including genetics, environmental factors, and mental health. However, trauma can be one of the most significant factors in the development of addiction as the person uses drugs and alcohol to cope. Unresolved trauma can lead to numerous negative feelings of shame, guilt, depression, fear, anger, anxiety, and more.
Reliving the traumatic experience can also cause a person to seek comfort in anything that wipes the memories away, even temporarily. Therefore, the link between trauma and addiction is more complicated than you may think, and understanding this link is crucial to facilitate healing for those struggling. Here we will explore the link between trauma and addiction.
Explaining Trauma and Its Symptoms
Trauma is a person’s emotional reaction to a negative experience that compromises their safety, causes severe pain, or influences intense fear. Examples of a traumatic event may include ongoing abuse, military combat, natural disaster, car crash, or sexual assault. After a traumatic event passes, a person may feel shocked and live in denial.
Common trauma symptoms include anxiety, anger, confusion, feelings of hopelessness, dissociation, denial, guilt, and social withdrawal. Trauma can also cause long-term responses such as mood swings, flashbacks, physical symptoms, and problems within interpersonal relationships. Individuals that do not seek proper help for trauma will often search for self-soothing methods in other places, such as drugs and alcohol.
Does Trauma Lead To Addiction?
There have been numerous research studies conducted to understand the link between trauma and addiction. Therefore, while it is standard to think that trauma causes addiction, the truth is more complicated. Trauma is a risk factor that contributes to the development of addiction, but it does not cause the disorder. To understand this, it is crucial to dive deeper into trauma and addiction.
Studies have shown that substance use disorders (SUDs) are highly comorbid with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is because drugs and alcohol are often used to soothe the effects of trauma or numb the person to escape their trauma. The more often a person uses drugs and alcohol and in larger quantities, the more likely they will develop an addiction because their brain becomes dependent on the substance in order to function.
However, the environment also plays a significant role in the development of addiction. Being around people who use drugs and alcohol can significantly influence your decision to continue using drugs and alcohol. Therefore, trauma can impact addiction, but it is not the primary cause.
Can Addiction Cause Trauma?
On the other hand, it is vital to consider addiction’s role in a person’s trauma. There are arguments that a person that struggles with addiction may be in more harmful and dangerous situations that can be traumatic.
For example, a person struggling with heroin addiction may overdose and end up in the hospital. This experience can be significantly traumatizing, causing the person to cope with those memories by self-medicating with substances. Therefore, addiction and trauma can be a dangerous cycle that influences one another, wreaking havoc on a person’s life until they decide to seek treatment.
Treating Trauma and Addiction
When you are struggling with unresolved traumas and addiction, you may think that you are beyond healing. However, this could not be further from the truth. There are treatments available to address co-occurring trauma and substance use to help you find the tools for lasting recovery. Finding a treatment center that understands the complexities of co-occurring disorders is crucial because it can point you in the right direction of healing.
Trauma and addiction must be treated simultaneously to give the patient the best chance at long-term recovery. Often, various forms of therapy are used to address the underlying traumas of patients healing from addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is commonly used because it helps a patient pinpoint negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with healthy ones.
To treat addiction, patients must first undergo detox to flush their bodies of the toxins caused by long-term substance abuse. The detox period can be uncomfortable and challenging, but doing it at a specialized detox facility can make this process easier. After detox, patients begin the part of recovery that involves various therapies and experiential activities to give them the tools to succeed in recovery. This is where the trauma work comes in, and it is crucial to help prevent relapse in the future.
If you are ready to take the next step in your life and begin your recovery journey, seek help today. There is never a wrong time to seek treatment, and you deserve to live a happy, healthy life.
Trauma and addiction are intimately intertwined, impacting one another in various ways. This dangerous cycle can lead to worsened symptoms of each until the person decides to stop the cycle and seek treatment. There are multiple treatments available to treat trauma and addiction, and finding a facility that can point you in the right direction is crucial. At the Detox Center of Colorado, we do not treat trauma specifically, but we do help our clients address various mental health disorders, such as PTSD. If you are struggling with trauma alongside addiction, we can give you the tools you need to succeed in recovery and point you in the right direction for your next steps of care. We vow to provide our patients with comfortable, comprehensive care that gives them the best chance at successful recovery. To start your healing journey today and learn more about our program, give us a call at (303) 952-5035.