Does Trauma Lead to Addiction?

Does Trauma Lead to Addiction?

In Alcohol Addiction, Drug Addiction, Mental Health, Trauma June 10th, 2020 No Comments
Does Trauma Lead to Addiction?

Does Trauma Lead to Addiction?

Trauma is one of the main causes of addiction, whether knowingly or unknowingly. In fact, according to SAMHSA, 75 percent of women and men in substance abuse treatment report histories of abuse and trauma. Negative experiences from the past can have a major impact on an individual’s mental well-being to the point where severe anxiety, depression, and addiction can set in. Keep reading to find out more about how trauma leads to addiction, how it is treated, and how you can get help today for co-occurring addiction and trauma.

What is Trauma?

According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer-term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.

Examples of traumatic experiences can include:

  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Emotional abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Bullying
  • Terminal illness of oneself or a loved one
  • Death of a loved one
  • Injury
  • Natural disasters, such as an earthquake or fire
  • Car accidents
  • Childhood neglect or a negative, hostile home environment as a child

Symptoms of trauma include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Lack of self-confidence or self-esteem
  • Persistent negative thoughts
  • Flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Problems forming romantic relationships
  • Trust issues
  • Difficulty in large crowds, leaving home, loud noises, talking to men

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

PTSD can manifest in many ways, including:

  • Isolation
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Eating disorder
  • Depression
  • Addiction

How Addiction Forms After Trauma

When an individual has experienced trauma, it can affect the brain and body in many ways. Stress can affect brain growth as a child if the traumatic experience happened in childhood, and it can chemically rewire certain response signals in the brain even later in life. No matter what, trauma can be debilitating.

As mentioned, PTSD can manifest in many ways, one of them being addiction. When an individual is experiencing symptoms from PTSD such as anxiety or depression, drugs or alcohol can be a quick, temporary escape away from these feelings. Drugs or alcohol can make an individual more outgoing in social situations, can numb negative thoughts or emotions, and triggers the reward system in the brain to the point where the individual can feel “better”.

However, all of these things are only temporary. In fact, addiction will make the underlying trauma symptoms even worse once the high wears off. This means the individual will have to use even more next time to attempt to achieve the same feelings of euphoria, however, chasing that high can quickly lead to many negative consequences, including overdose and death.

Treatment: Co-Occurring Disorder and Dual Diagnosis

The only good news about trauma and addiction is that they are both treatable conditions and recovery is possible. The important thing about co-occurring trauma and addiction is that they are treated together because they work together to fuel the other. This is done by dual diagnosis treatment and working through both the addiction recovery process and the trauma recovery process.

First, the individual will undergo the detox process to get them physically sober from substances. Through medication-assisted detox, the individual will feel as little physical withdrawal symptoms as possible and, as emotional and psychological symptoms arise, medications for anxiety and depression can be taken in conjunction with close counseling.

As treatment goes on, the patient will be able to not only learn skills to stay sober, but skills to also overcome their PTSD symptoms. Triggers, toxic relationships, and more can all be addressed while in treatment and a comprehensive aftercare program can be created to continue the work outside of treatment.

About Seasons in Malibu

Treatment for addiction and trauma are possible, and any person can lead a happy, healthy life free of both conditions. If you or a loved one are ready to finally overcome their trauma and addiction and escape the prison that has held them for so long, reach out to us. We are here to help you rebuild your life and give you the skills needed to have a successful life.

The Beach Cottage at Seasons in Malibu is a stand-alone facility that offers life-changing treatment for individuals suffering from mental health disorders. Licensed by the State of California and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, the Beach Cottage offers doctorate level, one-on-one therapy in an intimate, luxurious, residential setting, steps away from a private beach.

Receiving mental health treatment while in residence at Seasons in Malibu Mental Health is the ideal foundation for your long-term success. We work to ensure that upon your discharge, your success is continued by continued interaction with our team of professionals, or by connecting you with elite professionals and care providers that understand your specific needs wherever you live.

With our superior team of clinicians, we are able to succinctly pinpoint those areas of focus which will give the client the most advanced opportunity for success. Our approach towards healing is collaborative, comprehensive, and committed.

For more information, visit seasonsmalibu.com


Written By
Dr. Boris Vaisman
Family medicine and addiction specialist. Does Trauma Lead to Addiction? Does Trauma Lead to Addiction? Does Trauma Lead to Addiction? Does Trauma Lead to Addiction? Does Trauma Lead to Addiction?

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