Addiction is a chronic brain disease.
For some, genetic links and environmental influences may have strong ties to the growth of addiction.
However, much of it can also be traced back to an individual’s personal history or more specifically, trauma that they may have experienced. Uncovering origins in recovery can help understand the psychological inclinations and behavioral patterns that may have led a person to find solace in substance abuse in the first place.
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History of Trauma
One commonly cited connection in addiction is a part history of trauma or emotional abuse.
For instance, a report from the National Survey of Adolescents says, “teens who had experienced physical or abuse/assault were three times more likely to report past or current substance abuse than those without a history of trauma. In surveys of adolescents receiving treatment for substance abuse, more than 70% of patients had a history of trauma exposure.”
Most experiences of repeated occurrences of trauma, particularly in childhood endangers proper functioning and cognitive processing. The chance of developing an additional mental health illness increases if an individual does not receive psychological treatment, which most do not until much later.
Emotional Abuse Behaviors
Emotional abuse has strong correlations to substance addiction.
Studies show that “Emotional abuse can include verbal assault, dominance, control, isolation, ridicule, or the use of intimate knowledge for degradation (Follingstad, Coyne, & Gambone, 2005). It targets the emotional and psychological well-being of the victim, and it is often a precursor to physical abuse.”
Gaslighting, manipulation, and humiliation are other tactics used that can cause severe harm on a person’s mind.
For victims of emotional abuse, depression, social anxiety (and other anxiety disorders), panic disorders, or even suicidal ideation may result. Victims have higher rates of experiencing negative impacts if they do not have a social network of friends, relatives, or co-workers.
Emotional abuse is far reaching and can encompass different behaviors.
Some aspects of physical behavior are considered emotional abuse because of the trauma and psychological harm it does to a person.
Throwing things, destroying property, destroying a beloved object of the victim’s, preventing a person from leaving, or other occurrences may be considered “symbolic violence.”
Like child victims of abuse, adult victims of emotional abuse may experience changes in parts of their brain and thinking due to excessive harm. One of the more dangerous consequences is that people may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to ease the pain of experiencing emotional abuse.
Emotional Abuse in Adulthood
For adults, emotional abuse may exist within family situations or within intimate relationships, like marriages.
Within family units, emotional abuse can sometimes be ignored. Usually, the emotional abuse has existed for a lengthy period, due to living scenarios. It can be harder to separate yourself after repeated experiences because of genetic ties or inherent notions of responsibility and loyalty. This may cloud people’s ability to act in their own best interest. Emotional abuse within the family should never be dismissed.
Within marriages, emotional abuse that has existed for an extended period may result in addiction as a coping mechanism. If harmed individuals’ within the relationship do not seek help, it can be hard to establish boundaries or learn how to communicate effectively.
For many, most abuse persists for too long and greater intervention is needed to heal both abuse and addiction.
Heal from Emotional Abuse and Addiction
Eradicating substance addiction is crucial for a person.
Persistent addiction can be fatal. A primary treatment program, detox, and a transitional living facility are all proven methods to increase chances of sobriety.
However, healing co-occurring disorders is necessary to heal all facets of addiction.
Emotional abuse may result in major depressive order, anxiety disorders, panic disorders, or suicidal ideation and must be treated at the same time. While primary treatment and detox focuses on more of the physical components of addiction; recovery aims to heal the emotional and psychological aspects.
Through regular, intensive therapy and twelve-step meetings, recovering substance abusers may begin to understand the causes of their addiction. Confronting the specifics of mental illness and negative thought patterns are central goals in recovery. This means facing traumatic events that may have been suppressed or forgotten.
For trauma connecting to emotional abuse that a person may not remember, hypnotherapy (hypnosis) may help.
Research indicates, “the use of hypnosis in treatment of drug addiction shows a great deal of promise.” Cognitive behavioral therapy can help in correcting negative thought patterns that may have emerged from repressed memories. The urge to turn to substances may be at its strongest during these sessions. However, your therapist will guide you and be there for you as you work on these more difficult aspects of your recovery.
Additionally, some of the latest treatment approaches like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy may provide faster results in healing trauma and emotional abuse. This is essential since the lingering effects of emotional abuse can heavily factor into the role of addiction. Various therapeutic modalities can help an individual heal from the inside out.
You and your therapist will collaborate on finding the best treatment approach that caters to your specific needs.
While the urge to avoid participation in group scenarios or remain silent in therapy may be present, you must discuss the tougher and more unpleasant aspects of your experiences.
These challenging sessions restore a part of your nervous system and create lasting healing. “If the nervous system stays in survival mode, stress hormones such as cortisol are constantly released, causing an increase in blood pressure and blood sugar, which can in turn reduce the immune system’s ability to heal.”
Healing emotional abuse and addiction may involve talking to others in group therapy, engaging in EMDR, or intensive sessions of individual therapy. Regardless of the treatment approach, patience and steadiness are central components. It is important to remember to put yourself first. Your physical, emotional, and psychological health has to remain the most important aspect in healing. Recovery helps confront negative inner experiences and voices to help find inner peace.