Understanding The Effects of Trauma Through Addiction Treatment

addiction treatment

Understanding The Effects of Trauma Through Addiction Treatment

Addiction starts for many different reasons, but self-medicating is cause for most substance dependence. When one deals with a traumatic situation, drugs seem like an easy way out from the pain. After prolonged use, the emotions that have been brought on by trauma have been shoved deep down inside and have not been dealt with. Without emotional confrontation, a traumatic experience may be an ongoing problem that will continue to resurface. Addiction treatment can help trauma effects subside in those that have a substance dependency and also have experienced traumatic situations.

Traumatic Experiences that Provoke Drug and Alcohol Abuse


Death is a traumatic experience that everyone will have to face eventually. It is especially difficult to deal with the death of a family member, close friend, or significant other. Every person deals with death in his or her own way. Unfortunately, addiction often begins when an individual medicates himself or herself with drugs or alcohol.

Early Abuse:

Childhood emotional and physical abuse can provoke lifelong issues. Dealing with the pain from neglect or abuse can cause a person to turn to drugs and alcohol for release. Additionally, it has been proven that those that have dealt with childhood trauma are at a higher risk for developing some sort of substance dependence later in life.

Unexpected Events:

Being a victim of an accident or criminal activity can leave a person traumatized, affecting how they perform in daily life. An example of this might be a person involved in a car wreck. After the experience, one is anxious about driving or riding in a car because of the constant reminder of the dramatic event. Living with this type of trauma can increase chances of a panic attack. Many that have to deal with the fear, anger, and helplessness from these unexpected events often turn to drugs or alcohol to erase these memories.

Sexual Trauma:

The emotions that come with experiencing rape or sexual assault can stay with a person for the rest of their days. A trusted family member or person that is not a stranger performs most sexual abuse encounters. Because these events relate to a trusted individual, feelings of betrayal can promote anger, frustration, and rage for the victim. Those that have lived through sexual trauma often turn toward addictive substances to mask their pain. Sexual trauma can also leave a victim feeling embarrassed of seeking help for their emotional stresses. Instead of help, they self-diagnose and medicate with drugs or alcohol.

Earthly Disasters:

Natural disasters turn survivors into a state of an emotional wreck. Victims of these horrific events can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, experiencing vivid nightmares and hallucinations. Re-living the disaster over and over causes extreme stress and feelings of guilt for surviving the situation. Drugs or alcohol taken as pain-numbers or as an exit strategy from a relentless memory. Unfortunately, this often leaves these natural disaster survivors in a repeated cycle of use and addiction.

Commonalities in these Traumatic Events

A few traits are common in traumatizing events. Every person that has experienced trauma has their own story to tell, but the majority of trauma sufferers:

  •      Were not emotionally, physically, or mentally prepared for the traumatic event.
  •      Were not expecting the traumatic event, causing extreme shock.
  •      Felt helpless and unable to avoid the traumatic event.
  •      Were not responsible for the traumatic event that takes place.

Healing through Trauma Therapy

Being left with the scars of trauma is debilitating. Covering up these scars with drug or alcohol addiction can only bury the emotions tied with these traumatic events further. The best way to go about the healing process after trauma and addiction is to approach them both at the same time. Addiction treatment is not only about detoxification and refraining from using addictive substances. It is also about digging up the causes for addiction and staring them right in the face. It may seem scary, but facing your demons head-on is strongly encouraged in addiction treatment.

Once you address the demons swept under the rug, your trauma will no longer seem like a weight on your back. Instead, it will seem like a rock that you carry around in your pocket. The traumatic event will always stay with you, but it will be manageable. Eventually, you will find that you have room to feel other emotions besides the negative ones associated with your trauma, including happiness.

If you struggle with the effects of trauma by using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and have developed an addiction, help is available to you. Counseling and support are imperative for your mental health and well-being because running from emotions brought on by trauma will only cause further trauma.

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