How to Overcome Childhood Trauma

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Often a person dealing with an addiction to alcohol or drugs looks only at their current life circumstances in order to figure out why they became addicted. However, the root of their substance abuse problem often goes back to their childhood. If not properly addressed, the trauma they experienced during this crucial time of development can have a lasting effect. Once undergoing treatment, millions of people find that they must overcome their childhood trauma in order to begin true, long-term sobriety. 

What is Childhood Trauma?

Childhood trauma can come in the form of several different events. The most common events include:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Emotional abuse or neglect
  • Being in a serious accident
  • Experiencing a long-term hospitalization or life-threatening illness
  • Losing a parent or caretaker
  • Witnessing violence
  • Being part of a violent military or wartime event
  • Natural disasters, including flooding, earthquakes, and hurricanes

A child who experiences trauma may not realize the event qualifies as traumatic or might be told by adults to just get over it. Even long into adulthood, many individuals do not realize that conditions they developed, such as substance use disorders and mental illness, can be directly tied to the fact that they have not yet overcome childhood trauma. 

Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Trauma

When a person has experienced childhood trauma, certain signs and symptoms can occur. Some of these include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping too much
  • Difficulty expressing anger
  • Unwarranted aggressive behavior
  • Disassociating
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Denial that the past event had a lasting impact
  • Body aches and digestive issues that cannot be tied to physical causes

When a person discusses these symptoms with a physician or therapist, it’s important to include any trauma from their past. This allows the treatment professional to make a full diagnosis that will include addressing any trauma-based symptoms they experience. 

Why Should You Try and Overcome Your Trauma? 

Developing mental illnesses becomes more of a risk if a person has dealt with childhood trauma, making treatment for trauma, no matter how far in the past it may have occurred, quite important in order to live a life with good mental health. A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association showed that those individuals who experienced childhood trauma had higher rates of developing psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. These individuals often develop difficulties with financial and educational status and are at a higher risk for criminal behavior. 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states that exposure to traumatic events as a child can result in developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Once thought to be a rare event that did not occur in many children’s lives, it is now known that more than 60% of children are exposed to at least one traumatic event by the time they are 16. More than 30% are exposed to multiple traumatic events. When PTSD and other mental ailments that come about as a result of childhood trauma do not receive professional treatment, the individual often ends up dealing with what may be lifelong mental illnesses, as well as an addiction to alcohol or drugs. 

How Childhood Trauma Can Lead To Addiction

Multiple studies show that traumatic experiences, including those that happen during childhood, can be directly linked to a person developing dependence on or a full-blown addiction to alcohol and drugs. Occurrences of childhood sexual, emotional, and physical abuse often result in substance abuse, with cocaine being a particularly prevalent drug the victim of trauma goes on to abuse. Because children do not have the cognitive ability to process their trauma, they often begin self-medicating to deal with the lingering side effects of it when they are teenagers or young adults. While the numbing effects of alcohol and drugs may offer temporary relief, they often end up becoming addicted to one or more substances, thus compounding their problems. 

How to Treat Childhood Trauma

While the idea may seem intimidating at first, anyone can overcome childhood trauma when they receive the right treatment for it. Talk therapy provides the typical starting point. Discussing traumatic events with a trusted counselor who is trained to help diffuse the fear of talking about the past helps people sort through what happened and begin to move past it. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often employed as the therapy of choice because of how many people with PTSD benefit from engaging in it. 

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has become a popular tool to help people who have experienced trauma lower their stress levels. EMDR involves using repetitive eye movements directed by a trained therapist while learning to reduce automatic emotionally painful reactions that occur while thinking about the traumatic events. A limited amount of sessions often result in a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms. 

Many therapists are trained in treatment modalities like art therapy and music therapy. They help guide their clients in expressing their feelings via creative output, allowing them to process their pasts in a way that doesn’t just involve talk therapy. Other approaches to treating trauma include wilderness therapy, narrative exposure therapy, and prolonged exposure therapy. The professional treating the person will recommend what approaches to use in order to achieve the best results for the individual’s specific needs. 

Getting Help To Overcome Childhood Trauma in Los Angeles

If you experienced childhood trauma that has kept you from moving on and becoming the happy, healthy person you deserve to be, don’t give up hope. Launch Centers provides professional treatment for young adults that addresses both substance use disorders and mental health challenges like having lived through a traumatic past. 

Contact Launch Centers of Los Angeles today and let us show you the way to overcome your childhood trauma and addiction. Call us at 1-424-526-5339 and get started on your new life.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

staff member drug alcohol treatment los angeles

Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

treatment team los angeles ca

Eric Chaghouri, MD


chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.

  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.


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