Is addiction hereditary? Is it caused by peer pressure? What about poverty or toxic stress? All of these can play a part, but there is another factor that often stands out.
Maybe that’s why we also see so many mental health issues underlying substance abuse and addiction from prior experiences.
Sexual or physical abuse that occurs during childhood, trauma occurring in adulthood, and veterans who suffer from PTSD are just a few common scenarios we’re all familiar with.
And this makes sense, right? We’ve all experienced loss, stress, fear, or even social anxiety, and most of us have probably used alcohol or other drugs to help us “take the edge off” at least a few times.
When you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, think about some of the common causes of trauma below and see if one or more may be an underlying cause. If so, you’ll want to address those issues alongside any treatment for addiction.
Uncovered Childhood Traumatic Events Can Hinder Recovery Progress
Childhood experiences play a significant role in determining issues that occur later on in life. If a child is neglected or abused in some way, the frequent and extremely high levels of stress can impede normal brain development. Multiple studies have proven that these stress levels cause childhood victims of trauma to be more vulnerable to substance abuse in adulthood.
Although abuse and neglect can negatively impact anyone at any age, it has a much bigger impact on children. This is because children rely on their parents, or other family members that they trust for love and protection. If these parental figures are abusing that trust and are the source of trauma, the child then doesn’t have the family support that they desperately need.
Additionally, children’s brains are still developing. Creating a foundation of toxic stress and trauma basically wires the foundations of the brain to continue to build that way, making it much more deep-seated and harder to change than trauma experienced in adulthood.
If a child were to experience large amounts of pain, it makes sense for them to experience anxiety, shame, and sorrow in their adulthood. These victims of childhood trauma often need comfort, and that source of comfort can sometimes be drugs or alcohol. After all, they’ve already learned that comfort can’t be found in the adults around them.
It can seem impossible to recover from childhood trauma and addiction, but you or your loved one have options. Treatment centers like Black Bear Lodge that offer dual diagnosis treatment and trauma-informed care can help one recover from the underlying causes of addiction, and the addiction itself.
If you’re a victim of childhood trauma, it’s important to realize that you are not alone and it’s not your fault! In 2015, there were over 100,000 cases of child abuse and neglect in Georgia, and as we discussed previously, it’s highly likely for these survivors to engage in risky behaviors in adulthood due to their trauma.
The Impact of Recent Traumatic Events Often Result in Addiction
Adult trauma may not be as familiar to you as childhood trauma, but it’s still very real and can cause serious issues in one’s life.
Do you know anyone who lost their child or spouse unexpectedly? Or maybe they were involved in a deadly car accident? Or they were sexually assaulted? If so, it’s not uncommon to see them turn to drugs or alcohol in the wake of their trauma.
After someone goes through a traumatic incident, it’s common for them to experience painful flashbacks or memories of the incident, panic attacks, outbursts of anger, and feeling emotionally numb. To help avoid some of these symptoms, many survivors of adult trauma self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to avoid further traumatic thoughts and other negative side effects.
We discussed earlier that when trauma occurs in one’s childhood, it can cause a lot of issues later on in adulthood. But did you know that traumas experienced in adulthood compared to traumas experienced in childhood appear to cause more damage to an older person’s health?
This is why seeking professional help for the trauma you or a loved one has experienced is so important. If someone has gone through a traumatic event, and they’re not learning how to cope in healthy ways, their mental health could spiral downwards, along with their addiction. If you’re worried about your child, or other loved one who has experienced something traumatic, it may be time for them to seek professional help.
If you think now is the right time for a loved one to receive help, call Black Bear Lodge at 706-914-2327 for compassionate trauma-informed care.
Painful Flashbacks of War Are Linked to PTSD and Addiction
War can be a horrible experience. It isn’t something many of us grow up prepared to do. How many veterans are affected by war trauma? And how likely is it that this kind of trauma can cause substance abuse?
Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for substance abuse disorders also has PTSD. It’s probably not surprising to learn that most of the trauma that veterans experience is from combat, and many often rely on drugs or alcohol to numb the pain of their trauma.
Although veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD and substance abuse disorders have been widely discussed in the past, there are other layers to this issue that are not talked about enough. For example, did you know that about one in four female veterans have been sexually assaulted during their time in the military, which can also cause PTSD?
Another pressing issue is how likely it is for veterans to be addicted to their medication for anxiety or pain, which is usually prescribed for those with PTSD. Many veterans can become addicted to their prescription medications such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax, and Ambien.
These prescription drugs offer an escape from the trauma they’re still living in their minds. As we all know, this is not a healthy coping mechanism for past trauma.
Understanding what veterans have gone through is hard for many civilians to imagine. When veterans are experiencing painful flashbacks due to their PTSD, addicted to their anxiety medication or other substances, where can they turn?
Just like victims of childhood trauma, veterans who have experienced war trauma can seek professional trauma-informed mental health and addiction treatment to recover from PTSD, depression, anxiety, or other mental illness along with their addiction. Getting to the root cause of one’s addiction leads to a decreased chance of relapse in the future, and a better chance of full recovery.
Where Can You Turn to Seek Help for Trauma and Addiction?
Discussing your past with trauma isn’t an easy task for anyone. Admitting that you have been abused or neglected as a child, that being in combat situations has changed you, or losing a loved one suddenly takes a lot of courage.
Compassion, understanding and sometimes even a shoulder to cry on are just part of what’s needed to help someone move past their trauma and break free from addiction. Black Bear Lodge offers trauma-informed care and dual diagnosis treatment which can help you or a loved one recover from trauma and addiction. The master’s level clinicians at Black Bear Lodge can help you or a loved one get on the path to recovery.
Being in the hands of highly experienced staff in the serene forest foothills of northern Georgia can help the transition to sobriety be an easier one. Give Black Bear Lodge a call today at 706-914-2327 to help get you or your loved one’s life back on track.