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Understanding the Connection Between Addiction and Trauma

A man thinking about trauma and addiction

There is a strong connection between trauma and addiction. Understanding that link is an important step in maintaining recovery from a substance or alcohol use disorder. To learn more about how a trauma therapy program can help in your recovery, call Woodland Recovery Center today at 662.222.2989.

What Is Trauma?

Sadly, trauma is not a rare occurrence. According to the Veterans Administration, approximately 60% of men and 50% of women have experienced at least one trauma in their lifetimes. Trauma is an emotional reaction to a distressing event or experience.

Some of the most common types of trauma that link to addictive behavior include:

  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse or neglect
  • Psychological abuse
  • Experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse
  • Living with a family member who has a mental illness
  • Loss of a parent
  • Combat
  • Environmental violence
  • Extreme poverty
  • Incarceration of a family member

Traumas experienced during childhood have an especially detrimental effect on a person’s mental health. A notable study of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) found that the more ACEs a child experiences, the higher their risk of alcohol and drug abuse in adulthood.

Sadly, trauma is not rare. Nearly two-thirds of adults report they have experienced at least one ACE, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How Do Addiction and Trauma Interact?

Trauma can lead to the development of mental health concerns, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders.

Individuals living with unresolved trauma may turn to substances to deal with the mood issues caused by trauma. The use of drugs and alcohol becomes a way of coping with or self-medicating trauma symptoms.

Not every person who experiences trauma turns to substance use. People who are fortunate enough to have strong social support and mental health intervention may find effective and health-affirming treatments to manage any mental health concerns that arise. However, not everyone has that support or is ready to accept it when offered.

Unresolved trauma and addiction can be addressed at the same time in a comprehensive recovery program. Woodland Recovery Center includes trauma therapy and treatment for co-occurring conditions in our addiction recovery programs.

Signs of Unresolved Trauma and Addiction

Coming to admit you have an addiction disorder is one of the most difficult truths you’ll ever face, but it’s also one of the greatest. Stepping out of denial is the first step toward recovery. The same is true with facing past trauma. If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or a loved one, consider seeking treatment for both trauma and addiction:

  • You have tried to control or reduce substance use without success
  • Hypervigilance
  • Feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem
  • Majority of your time is spent thinking about, securing, or using substances
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, or nausea
  • Excessive focus on physical symptoms
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Anxiety around people or places connected to trauma
  • Continuing to use substances despite negative consequences

When unresolved trauma and addiction are intertwined, treating them together is the most effective approach.

How Are Addiction and Trauma Treated?

Every person who enters treatment is an individual with their own unique personality and needs. Successful treatment for co-occurring conditions requires a personalized treatment plan that addresses each individual’s situation.

Some of the therapeutic approaches that may be included in your treatment plan include cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, motivational interviewing, and relapse prevention therapy. Medications to manage mental health symptoms may also be recommended.

Call Woodland Recovery Center: Get Help for Addiction and Trauma Now

Understanding the connection between trauma and addiction is central to recovery. If you or someone you care about has experienced trauma and is exhibiting the warning signs of addiction, we can help. Call Woodland Recovery Center today at 662.222.2989 or contact us online to begin healing from trauma and addiction.