THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AND ADDICTION
- December 29, 2019
It’s no secret that there is a direct correlation between childhood trauma and substance abuse.
Unfortunately, not everyone takes the time to delve into a patient’s history in their attempt to address addiction.
In a study conducted concerning highly traumatized individuals, 39% had a lifetime dependence on alcohol, and over 34% had a dependency on cocaine.
Traumatic life experiences, such as sexual abuse or neglect, are more common than one might think. Almost 35 million United States children have experienced one or more types of trauma.
Do you want to learn about the symptoms of childhood trauma in adults? Do you have a loved one who was a victim of childhood trauma who has developed a severe substance abuse problem?
Keep scrolling to take a closer look at the correlation between childhood trauma and addiction.
What Is Trauma?
Childhood trauma refers to adverse childhood experiences. When a child fears for their safety, witnesses a violent act, or experiences intense physical or emotional pain, the effects are both long-lasting and psychologically damaging.
Trauma can be repeated or ongoing, or it can be a one-time event. There is a wide variety of traumatic events that happen to children of all ages.
Here are some examples of what childhood trauma consists of:
- Car accidents
- Sexual assault
- Domestic violence
- Street violence
- Battling a life-threatening condition
- Parent with mental illness
- Parent with a substance abuse problem
- Physical neglect or abuse
- Emotional abuse or neglect
- Death of a loved one
- Separation of a parent or caregiver
- Natural disasters
Sometimes an adult won’t necessarily remember or know what events had such an effect on their lives. The effects of childhood trauma can trickle down throughout one’s life in a variety of ways.
What Are the Effects of Childhood Trauma?
The effects of childhood trauma on adults are vast, but they can be broken down into 3 main categories.
Adults who survived trauma or abuse as children have higher rates of depression, suicide, anxiety, self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse, PTSD, and issues with relationships.
Children who survive abuse go on to experience feelings of worry, shame, guilt, anxiety, hopelessness, grief, sadness, helplessness, and anger, well into adulthood.
Children who experience trauma and abuse can develop a “heightened stress response.” It can lead to several physical illnesses in adulthood.
Plus, it can impact an adult’s ability to sleep and regulate their emotions. And it can lead to lower immune function.
What Are the Symptoms of Childhood Trauma in Adults?
There is no cut and dry method for addressing childhood trauma in adults because every individual is different. If you have a loved one you feel is a victim of trauma, there are plenty of warning signs to look for.
Behavioral Signs and Symptoms
Some of the common warning signs to look for with regard to behavior are eating disorders, impulsiveness, compulsion, numbness, general disorientation, and isolation.
Physical Signs and Symptoms
Physical signs that an adult suffering from traumatic repercussions are shakiness, lack of energy, night terrors, sleep disturbances, physical illness, and poor concentration.
Emotional Signs and Symptoms
Emotional signs that an adult may have suffered trauma as a child are anxiety, depression, unresponsiveness, anger, panic attacks, and emotional outbursts.
It’s important to remember that even if trauma or abuse happened decades ago, they could easily have long-lasting effects on the life and relationships of an adult.
It’s not uncommon for an adult to have no idea their substance abuse and addiction issues are directly related to their childhood past.
How Does Trauma Lead to Addiction?
Trauma can lead to addiction in a number of different ways.
Adults who suffered trauma as children often continue to lead very “normal” adult lives. However, as they struggle to manage the long-lasting effects of that trauma, they often turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate.
Adults who have trouble sleeping or experience depression and other debilitating ailments will often find ways to sedate themselves to be able to sleep or cope with their daily lives.
Initial drug and alcohol use can feel like a cure. But as users become more dependent and seek our additional substances, the abuse of those substances can make everything worse.
Treatment Is Essential
Dealing with trauma is complex, especially when it’s a thing of the past, and individuals must bring up painful memories and take back control of their lives.
Adults can overcome childhood trauma through therapy and other professional help.
More often than not, doctors are quick to prescribe depression or anxiety medication. But all that does is put a bandaid on painful emotions of the past.
Addressing the issues head-on is the best way to find relief and go on to live a fulfilling life.
The best way to get treatment is to do so in a beautiful, modern environment where comfort, safety, and support are a priority.
Childhood Trauma Doesn’t Have to Keep Haunting You
Childhood trauma affects many people well into their adult lives. It is physically, mentally, and spiritually draining and often leads to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.
Whether it was a one-time event or reoccurring abuse, childhood trauma affects everyone differently. That’s why it’s vital to get help from professionals who take the time to get to know and care for the whole patient.