Can You Develop A Trauma Bond Addiction?

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Developing a trauma bond addiction is a complex and intricate phenomenon that can occur in abusive or traumatic relationships. When individuals experience repeated cycles of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment, they may develop a strong emotional attachment to their abuser. Individuals may turn to substance abuse to offer temporary relief to escape this kind of abuse. However, some may become addicted to the abuse, resulting in the victim developing a trauma bond addiction.

In this article, we will discuss what a trauma bond is, how to recognize when you or a loved one are trauma-bonded, the relationship between addiction and trauma, and how to break a trauma bond.

woman looking sad because of her trauma bond addiction with the man behind her

What is a Trauma Bond?

trauma bond is a psychological connection that forms between individuals who have experienced intense and often abusive situations together. It involves emotions like fear, excitement, and sexual attraction that can manipulate and trap the person involved. The bond is characterized by alternating cycles of intense love and excitement, followed by episodes of mistreatment and abuse. This inconsistent intermittent reinforcement creates a sense of uncertainty and a heightened emotional bond with the abuser.

Trauma bonds can develop in various situations where abuse or violence occurs and are not limited to abusive relationships. For example, a child enduring abuse from an alcoholic parent or a prisoner of war forming a strong bond with their captors can experience trauma bonds. In recent years, addiction recovery centers have noticed an increase in individuals who find themselves in trauma-bonded relationships while also struggling with substance use disorders. This is why it’s important to recognize the signs and stages of trauma bonds and understand the relationship between trauma and addiction.

Learn more about what classifies as a traumatic event here

Signs & Stages of Trauma Bonds

Trauma bonds can be characterized by specific signs and stages that reflect the dynamics of the relationship and the emotional attachment that forms between the victim and the abuser. It is important to note that not all individuals will experience the same signs or progress through the stages similarly. However, recognizing these signs and stages can be vital in addressing the abuse and beginning the healing process.

Some of the most common stages of trauma bonding can include the following:

  • Idealization Stage: In the idealization stage, the abuser often engages in love bombing the victim, showering them with love and affection. This creates a deep emotional bond between the victim and the abuser, causing the victim to trust the abuser and develop intense feelings of love and admiration.
  • Devaluation Stage: Over time, the behavior of the abuser will start to change, and they will begin to devalue the victim, leading to a shift in the relationship dynamic. This stage is where most of the abuse is seen, as the abuser begins to gaslight and manipulate the victim with intermittent episodes of abuse.
  • Bonding Stage: Despite the abuse, a strong bond will form between the victim and the abuser. The positive reinforcement from the idealization stage and the manipulation during the devaluation stage cause confusion for the victim but results in an intense emotional attachment.

Some of the most common signs of trauma bonding can include:

  • Imbalance of power
  • A repetitive cycle of abuse
  • Distancing from family members or friends
  • Defending the abuser’s behavior
  • Focusing on previous ‘good times’ instead of the present abuse
  • Believing you can change them yourself
woman sitting in a ball on the floor

The Trauma of Addiction

Experiencing trauma can cause various psychological effects that impact your daily life. Because of this impact, many individuals will turn to substance abuse as a way to be able to cope with the trauma they faced throughout their life. Addiction can also lead to trauma through negative consequences related to substance abuse, including unhealthy relationships, legal issues, financial difficulties, and health problems, intensifying feelings of shame and despair.

Early life trauma, such as abuse, neglect, or loss of a caregiver, can profoundly impact individuals and increase their vulnerability to developing addiction as a coping mechanism. The trauma caused by addiction further erodes trust, crosses boundaries, and inflicts harm on loved ones, deepening the sense of isolation and shame. Additionally, addiction affects emotional and psychological well-being, triggering intense anxiety, depression, guilt, and self-esteem.

The cycle of substance abuse and attempts to quit can perpetuate chronic stress and trauma-related symptoms. Trauma triggers can also cause past traumatic experiences to resurface, making individuals more susceptible to relapse and self-destructive behaviors, further perpetuating the cycle of addiction.

Continue reading here to learn how to avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. 

Does Trauma Always Lead to Addiction or Substance Use?

The relationship between trauma and addiction can be cyclical, with one leading to another and vice versa. People who have experienced trauma may turn to drugs or addictive behaviors to escape reality. According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, one-quarter of people who have survived traumatic experiences have turned to alcohol or drug abuse.

Individuals with traumatic pasts may be more susceptible to addiction as a way to regulate their mood, suppress intrusive thoughts, and cope with the heightened stress caused by the trauma. Substance abuse provides temporary relief and may create a sense of control over their emotions, even if it harms their overall well-being.

Understanding the type of trauma the individual experienced is crucial to treat their addiction effectively and for their long-term recovery. By looking at the type of trauma they face, professionals can use trauma-informed therapy and integrated treatment programs to help individuals heal properly.

Types of Trauma in an Addictive Household

Living in an addictive household exposes individuals to various traumatic experiences that can significantly impact their well-being. These experiences can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s physical, emotional, and mental health. Some of the traumas that an individual can experience in an addictive household include:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Boundary violations
  • Codependency
  • Secrecy
  • Self-blame
  • Domestic violence
  • Caretaking or rescuing of the abusive person
man about to abuse woman

How to Break a Trauma Bond

Breaking a trauma bond addiction can be challenging and complex, especially when involved with an abusive partner. Breaking off a trauma bond with someone requires dedication and commitment to improving your overall well-being. There are several strategies you can utilize to break free from a trauma bond. Some of these can include:

  • Educating yourself about trauma-bonding and toxic relationships
  • Seeking out professional help
  • Prioritize self-care and ensure your well-being
  • Build a support group with family members or friends
  • Invest time into yourself to facilitate personal growth

Trauma-Informed Addiction Treatment Services in Los Angeles, CA

Learning that you have formed a trauma bond addiction is not easy to come to terms with. You most likely have suffered from a loss of self, toxic behaviors, and drug addiction while experiencing a trauma bond. To heal from this, receiving trauma-informed addiction treatment services is essential to ensure a proper dual diagnosis and treatment plan.

Launch Centers, located in Los Angeles, CA, is proud to offer comprehensive, holistic, and trauma-informed addiction treatment services to young adults who have experienced trauma bond addictions. Our mental health and addiction treatment services are designed for young adults, ensuring that when our clients leave treatment, they are prepared for the real world with all the necessary resources.

If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health problems, substance use disorder, or trauma bond addiction, contact us today to learn more about our programs.

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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