Connecting Trauma To Substance Abuse

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When a person suffers from addiction, it can be one of the most difficult times in their lives, and leads to a whole host of problems to be faced by them and their family. Family members typically feel hopeless, scared, and sometimes even guilty.

They may react by asking “why?”, and wonder how it ended up so bad. Many people insist that addiction is a choice or a sign of weakness. However, no one wakes up one day and “chooses” to become addicted. The truth is, addiction is a disease, with legitimate reasons leading up to its development.

What Is Trauma?

Among the leading causes of substance abuse addiction is undoubtedly, trauma. In psychological terms, trauma is an experience that produces psychological injury or pain, that a person has a hard time coping with. It can leave someone stuck in a state of overwhelming fear or anxiety. Trauma can take all forms, from childhood experiences of abuse and neglect, bullying, and witnessing domestic violence or a less-than-amicable divorce, to the loss of a parent, loss of employment, a car accident or being involved in a volatile relationship. Victims of mental trauma often experience severe long-term effects stemming from the trauma that cannot be managed by themselves.

How Does Trauma Link To Addiction?

There are many complex emotions and other nuances behind the relationship between trauma and addiction. Most commonly, some people suffering from the harsh effects of trauma in their lives might lean towards alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. With the impact that stress responses and trauma have on the body, it’s not surprising that emotional and psychological pain often leads to an endless cycle of self-medicating, which leads to more pain, and inevitably more self-medicating, and so on. In these instances, the substances serve a purpose which is why to remove the substance, without understanding the individual need for it, is to ignore the cause and not pursue a long-term solution.

How You Can Reduce Trauma And Its Effects

Unprocessed trauma can affect brain development drastically, and have a lasting effect on us psychologically, which can surface at any time. It will be essential to confront past events associated with the traumatic experience gradually. Give yourself time, knowing the way you are feeling will not last, and that by dealing with the fears and thoughts, by being vulnerable enough to admit them aloud, you will be able to give less power to your addiction and truly work on the issues in your life.


Be kind to yourself. Although it’s tempting, don’t self medicate to cope with trauma; it will only serve to make things worse. You don’t have to face problems alone, continue to talk to your family, friends, and colleagues about the trauma, and make sure to reach out and get the professional support you need before it becomes a more serious issue.


Even if you feel withdrawn, talking with someone you know that can be trusted about past situations can be very helpful in getting over negative feelings. Try doing things that are pleasurable and relaxing. If possible, exercising is a perfect way to keep the mind off of negative thoughts as well as keeping your body feeling great!


Even though many lean towards substance abuse as a resolution to the trauma experienced, beginning an addiction to alcohol or drugs can only harm one’s present and future. There’s no question substance abuse is not the answer; nonetheless, anyone who finds himself or herself physically dependent on alcohol, drugs or behavioral issues should find an effective treatment solution immediately!


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