Trauma and Addiction

By The Valor Team
Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 5:12 pm in
child sitting under a tree crying

It is beginning to be recognized that trauma goes hand in hand with addiction. Why?

For starters, trauma can be absolutely anything, it all depends on how a person perceives an event and what they emotionally have difficulty moving through. That means, whether it is a divorce, car accident, or abuse, it’s an event (recurring or singular) that hijacks the brain and a person’s life.

Believe it or not, we’ve all experienced trauma in some fashion. This could be the traditional view of trauma (physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse) or other forms of trauma we don’t necessarily take into consideration. It festers as it is replayed in the mind and mimicked in our day to day lives in worst case scenario thinking, lack of trust in people, needing control over everything, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and so on.

Our bodies run on a completely different channel compared to our rational, thinking mind. You know when you completely check out when you’re driving and next thing you know you’re home? That was your body taking over while you mind traveled to a far off land of day dreaming.

For a more in-depth discussion of trauma and what it is, read What is Trauma? Anything that Rocks Your World.

So how does this tie into addiction?

At its basis, addiction is trauma. There is an undeniably high rate of people with trauma in their histories, especially childhood, that are battling addiction. Even if an addicted person has not experienced traditional trauma, they could have experienced other forms of trauma. Additionally, if you’ve come from a healthy and wonderful background and still have found yourself battling addiction, you are now experiencing trauma.

On one hand, you have trauma that leads to addiction and on the other hand, you have addiction that leads to trauma. They are best friends and attached at the hip. This is not saying that all traumatized persons develop an addiction or problem with substances. There are traumatized persons out there that have found their own ways to survive and heal. However, those experiencing an addiction are dealing with the trauma that comes from it and a high portion of the population have experienced some form of trauma in their histories.

How does trauma impede the recovery process?

In every single way. It is common to hear about someone going through treatment, managing to piece together their life and some sober time before falling to relapse. You’ve probably experienced this. Before labeling them or yourself a “frequent flyer” or “chronic relapser,” take a step back. Is it trauma? Maybe there is a reenactment of a pattern from childhood and they are having difficulty knowing anything different. 

Some facilities, although they acknowledge mental health, don’t include that in treatment. Imagine trying to numb and erase memories that follow you day after day, every minute of the day, feeling so on edge/anxious that you’d do anything to make it go away, because a lifetime of pain, a lifetime of anxiety, a lifetime of pure exhaustion and self-loathing. The sanest of people would not be able to withstand a daily assault of trauma symptoms.

If you’re unable to piece together sobriety or find yourself in a loop of relapse, treatment, sobriety, relapse, that is a cue that you need to address the whole situation . . . all of you . . . together. 

If you or your loved one is ready to take the first step toward long-term recovery, or if you have any questions regarding treatment or admissions, give us a call at 330-330-8777, or complete and submit our Contact Form and we will reach out to you at our first opportunity.