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Understanding How Past Trauma Relates to Addiction

Understanding how past trauma relates to addiction can be a shocking discovery. Studies show that people who have been through traumatic experiences are more likely to start using drugs or alcohol later in life. This information can provide helpful insights into how best to help you heal from past traumas and begin your journey toward recovery.

What Is Trauma?

Let’s take a moment to understand what trauma is and what it isn’t. First, understand that trauma doesn’t require an experience that leaves you with physical wounds or scars. It can occur as a result of anything that causes you to feel intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Trauma can happen due to a single experience that might have happened to you as a child, during your teen years, or at any other time in your life. Traumatic events can be both extreme and commonplace. Almost any kind of situation can cause trauma if it’s experienced as terrifying enough.

The Link Between Past Trauma and Addiction

Past trauma and addiction often go hand in hand because trauma can alter your brain chemistry in unhealthy ways. When people use drugs or alcohol, it is often an attempt to self-manage these changes.

People who have experienced trauma may try to cope with painful emotions, like anxiety and low self-esteem, through drug or alcohol use. They may also attempt to numb the physical symptoms of trauma, such as headaches or stomachaches.

When you add an addiction to the mix, you only make matters worse. Drugs and alcohol can worsen the chemicals in your brain that are related to trauma. However, you can address the link between trauma and addiction by getting to the root of what you’re experiencing.

How Can Past Trauma Lead to Addiction?

Drugs and alcohol are mood-altering substances, and they can provide temporary relief from the symptoms of trauma. Unfortunately, the relief provided by drugs and alcohol doesn’t last. It usually only becomes shorter, requiring you to use more and more of the substance to reach the same level of relief.

When you finally try to stop using, you may begin to experience the painful emotions you’ve been avoiding for so long. As a result, you may reach for more drugs or alcohol to numb those feelings once again. This pattern is extremely common among people who have co-existing substance use disorders (SUDs) and past traumas.

A Way Out

The first step toward healing from trauma and addiction is to acknowledge that you’re not alone. A study published by Depression and Anxiety estimates that somewhere between one-third and one-half of people who have experienced childhood trauma go on to misuse substances as adults.

Luckily, trauma-specific care includes techniques that can help you address your past and the addiction itself. Finding your path to recovery and healing has never been as hopeful as it is today.

Past trauma can lead to addiction. Drugs and alcohol can change your brain chemistry in unhealthy ways, which can make it harder to heal from past traumas. When you add an addiction to the mix, it can become even harder to deal with emotions related to trauma and begin to heal. The Guest House can help. Working with professionals who specialize in trauma-specific care can help you address your trauma and addiction. Call us at (855) 483-7800 today for more information.