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The Connection Between Trauma and Substance Abuse

The Connection Between Trauma and Substance Abuse
There are many different factors that can play a role as far the reasons why someone develops an addiction. There may be genetic vulnerability, certain personality traits, health issues and situations that can cause a person to become addicted. One of the common problems that is seen among people that struggle with addiction is an experience with trauma that can trigger addictive tendencies.

A traumatic experience can affect a person emotionally and psychological for many years of their life. Some people are forever changed by a trauma especially if they are not able to get professional help to resolve some of their feelings about the situation. Trauma can have a powerful impact that is difficult to overcome and many addicts later begin to understand that their trauma was what initially caused their addiction.

When young children or teens experience trauma it can change the way that they develop and how they learn to interact with the world. Even when adults go through a traumatic experience it can be hard for them to go back to normal and live their life without stress or anxiety. PTSD is very frequently connected to addiction because it is such a painful and debilitating illness.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is an experience where a person witnesses or goes through something that shocks them and they fear for their safety. It could involve violence or death or abuse and it can scar them permanently. The feeling of fear and helplessness that a person goes through when they are traumatized can stay with them and lead to anxiety or depression.

When a person develops PTSD it can lead to certain symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares or panic attacks. Post traumatic stress disorder often occurs for soldiers who have been through war or people who have been sexually abused. The intense fear and lack of control over their own well-being and safety that they went through can change their mental state dramatically.

Trauma and/or PTSD can make it difficult to get through daily life without feeling stressed out, scared, anxious or depressed about your situation. There may be certain situations, people or places that trigger the memory of trauma and make it hard for the person to face them. They may start to avoid certain things or have trouble functioning in everyday situations.

Trauma and Addiction

People who have gone through trauma often turn to alcohol or drugs as a kind of coping mechanism. They might drink or use drugs because it temporarily calms their anxiety, makes them feel less depressed or simply makes it easier to get through the day. They may also use drugs as away to forget about their painful memories or avoid facing them.

When a person experiences trauma very early in life it can increase their susceptibility to developing an addiction. However, trauma can occur at any age and can still make a person more likely to use drugs or alcohol even if they are an older adults. Trauma can be such an intense and painful problem that drug use is the only way that the person knows how to cope with their feelings.

There is a very strong link between PTSD and addiction and the two must be treated simultaneously because they influence each other dramatically. More than 50 percent of those who suffer from PTSD also battle addiction and suffers are 4 times more likely than their peers to abuse drugs or alcohol. The high rates of addiction among those with PTSD have led to many treatment centers that specialize in treating the two issues together.

Getting Help for Trauma and Addiction

Any type of trauma can be treated and resolved with the right kind of professional mental health program. Some people find it difficult to talk about their trauma and may somewhat suppress their memories in order to function in daily life. Discussing traumatic experiences in therapy can be a very healing and cathartic process for those in recovery.

In order to heal from trauma, patients need to face their painful and frightening memories and learn how to process them with the help of a therapist. They can start to put the memories in a different perspective and try to understand how they impacted the rest of their life. Even though it can be challenging to confront a painful past, it ultimately can help resolve some of the feelings of anxiety and depression that are still a problem for the patient.

For those suffering from trauma and addiction it is important to find a treatment center that can address both problems. Trauma does not always lead to mental illness but it is a good idea to get a diagnosis from a professional psychiatrist before treating an addiction. There are many addiction problems that help people heal from trauma and their substance abuse problems together.