Exploring the Link Between Addiction and Trauma

Exploring the Link Between Addiction and Trauma

Table of Contents

Unveiling the Common Connection Between Drug Addiction and Trauma

Addiction and trauma are both powerful forces that can go in line with each other. Together, they can create an often challenging and complex web for individuals to navigate. In recent years, many studies have been conducted to understand the association between trauma and drug use disorder. You can learn more about the intricate association between substance use and trauma from this post. Also, this post explains how these two experiences impact and intersect each other.


Understanding Addiction

You should first understand addiction itself before exploring its association with trauma. Drug and alcohol addiction is a multifaceted condition. It is associated with an addictive requirement for a behavior or substance. If you are addicted, you will continue to use the substance even after understanding its harmful effects.


Substance use disorder can take varied forms. For instance, you might be addicted to opioids, cocaine, or nicotine. Otherwise, you might be addicted to a specific behavior like shopping or gambling.


The tangled neurobiology of addiction encompasses changes in the reward system of your brain. It also involves changes in the motivation systems in your brain. In turn, you will experience a persistent cycle to seek and engage in the behavior or use the substance.


Impact of Trauma on Your Brain

You have a basic knowledge of the science of addiction now. Trauma, on the other hand, is very disturbing and distressing. It will overwhelm your ability to cope. Traumatic events can vary widely in the life of each individual.


For instance, trauma might be an effect of sexual or physical abuse. Otherwise, the loss of a loved one, accidents, or natural disasters might also be the contributing factors. When a person gets through a traumatic experience, his/her brain’s response mechanism will be altered considerably.


The stress response system that encompasses releasing hormones like cortisol gets dysregulated. As a result, there will be potential long-term changes not only in the functions but also in the structure of the brain.


The Drug Addiction and Trauma Association Explained

The association between substance abuse and trauma stays in the complicated interplay between the changes in the functions of your brain following a traumatic incident. After a traumatic incident, a person becomes more vulnerable to addictive behavior.


Sadly, to handle the effects of trauma, many people start relying on addictive behavior or substances. They start feeling that the substance helps them escape the distressing memories and pain caused by trauma.


Unfortunately, when you become addicted, you will get into a cycle of dependence after a traumatic event. This happens because your brain starts associating the substance with a sense of escape from emotional turmoil and comfort.


Self-Medication As Coping Technique

Self-medication is a common theory among people with addiction. People start using alcohol or drugs to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety post a traumatic event. Also, they turn to alcohol use disorder to reduce the emotional pain caused by the trauma.


In short, they get addicted to drugs as a form of self-prescribed medication. They believe that they can handle the psychological stress that the trauma has caused them without considering their physical health.


Complexity of Co-Occurring Disorders Caused by Substance Use

The association between trauma and substance addiction gets further complicated with the presence of co-occurring mental disorders.


Individuals who have experienced trauma in their lives are at higher risk of developing conditions like anxiety disorder, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. The coexistence of these mental health issues can intensify the pull of addiction. So, it becomes even more challenging to get out of the cycle of behavioral addiction.

Exploring the Link Between Addiction and Trauma-1
The Role of Environmental Factors and Genetics

Indeed, the effect of trauma on the brain is considerable. However, it is equally important to remember that environmental factors and genetics can play a crucial role in developing an addiction.


Some people might have a genetic inclination that makes them more susceptible to addictive behaviors. On the other hand, for some people, environmental causes can increase the risk of addictive behavior.


How To Break The Cycle of Substance Use Disorder?

You should follow an empathetic and comprehensive approach to address the link between drug use addiction and trauma. You should get the right addiction treatment that understands your trauma. When you seek help to address both your addiction and trauma, you can get better results.


You can find treatment programs that provide a supportive and safe environment to heal both your trauma and drug or alcohol use. The creators of such treatment programs like Sober Centre understand that addressing both is important. When one of them is not understood properly, there will be limited chances of success in stopping using drugs.


Therapeutic Interventions for Substance Addiction

To break the cycle, you should get therapeutic interventions that bring together evidence-based practice for both trauma and addiction. For this purpose, different techniques are used:


  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

With these therapies, people with addiction and trauma will get help with processing their traumatic memories. In turn, they can build resilience against addiction and healthier coping mechanisms.


Supporting Resilience and Coping Skills For Behavioral Addiction and Trauma

If you are struggling with addiction and trauma, you should get help with building resilience. Also, it would help if you are taught healthy coping skills. These are important in the process of getting out of your drug misuse and addiction together with trauma. You can manage the signs of addiction with the help of;


  • Holistic approaches like medication and yoga
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Support groups

With these tools, you will get the power to handle your alcohol and drug use. Also, you can get out of the trauma that has been disturbing you for long. You can effectively get through the challenges coming your way in relieving both your trauma and addiction.


They will help safeguard you from a relapse. The reason is that they promote a more enduring and sustainable recovery. With support groups, you can effectively handle the withdrawal symptoms.


Yes, one of the important reasons for addiction is trauma. After a traumatic event, the risk factor of an individual for drug use and addiction is higher. The reason is that post-trauma, a person starts attempting self-medication. Otherwise, due to dysregulated biological stress response, the person will start looking for ways to dampen his/her mood symptoms.

Yes, the reason is that trauma-informed care will spot the pervasive effect of trauma in your life. Also, it will intend to create a support and safe atmosphere for you to heal the traumatic memories that led to addiction.

On the other hand, when you opt for traditional forms of addiction treatment, you might not get the care you need to get out of trauma. In turn, you may start to use a drug once again.

Trauma-informed care will address your underlying trauma that has contributed to the development of drug addiction. It will focus on empowerment and empathy. It will accordingly offer customized treatment for both your nicotine addiction and trauma.

In case you are concerned about your gambling addiction after a trauma in your life, it is better to look for an effective treatment. Most importantly, the form of treatment you get should address both your addiction and trauma. Only then can you overcome addiction and also lead a life free of your traumatic memories.

Contributing Editor

Troy Wakelin – Co-Founder and Contributing Editor SoberCentre.com

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