A child’s circumstances and experiences help shape their psychological and physical development. The connection between the environment and psyche is so strong that it shapes their thoughts and behaviors well into adulthood. As such, the connection between childhood trauma and addiction is easy to understand.
The precise connection between trauma and addiction during childhood is the subject of a wide range of explanations. Some scientists suggest that trauma disrupts brain structure. Other scientists provide more straightforward explanations. What is known is that a child that experiences trauma has a high chance of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. If you need trauma-informed substance abuse treatment, contact Women’s Recovery today at 833.754.0554 for information about our childhood trauma and addiction program.
Where Does Trauma Take Root?
Trauma is an emotional response to a catastrophic event. The person suffering the trauma has either experienced the event or witnessed it happening to someone else. The emotional response does not occur immediately. It develops over time, causing a person to suffer from emotional or mental disorders.
Events that cause trauma in childhood may include:
- Sexual assault or rape
- Physical assault
- Violence in the home
- Verbal or emotional abuse
- Terminal illness
- Death of a person
Other causes may include natural disasters, parental neglect, or something as violent as a car crash. Trauma can happen at any time during a child’s life and manifest in a variety of ways throughout adolescence and adulthood.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that is triggered by a traumatic event. A person may feel the effects of PTSD as early as one month after the event. As time goes on, the symptoms slowly become. Symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Intense and unwanted memories of the event
- Flashbacks or nightmares associated with the event
- Emotional reactions to things that are reminders of the trauma
- Avoiding people, places, or situations to prevent the trauma from happening again
- Anxiety, depression, or borderline personality disorder
- Addiction to drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication
A person who has PTSD may be easily frightened or startled. They are always on the lookout for dangerous situations. PTSD can cause a person to have difficulty eating, sleeping, or concentrating.
The Connection Between Childhood Trauma and Addiction
Addiction is not directly linked to trauma. Instead, it is a symptom of a mental disorder that arises out of the trauma. Mental disorders can range from PTSD and depression to severe anxiety or eating disorders. In many cases, a person does not realize that the mental disorder they are experiencing is connected with the trauma. It usually takes some form of trauma-informed treatment for them to draw a connection.
A person who has a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety may not know how to cope with it. Consequently, they may turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication, or they may get a prescription from a doctor. The ongoing use of alcohol or drugs to deal with a mental disorder eventually turns into an addiction or dependency.
Warning Signs of Addiction
Mental health struggles can be quiet and difficult to identify; addiction is much easier to recognize. Some common warning signs of substance abuse and addiction include:
- Isolating from family and friends
- No longer participating in things they used to enjoy
- Pupils that are enlarged or too small
- Slurred speech
- Unpredictable and extreme mood swings
- New or worsening problems at home, work, or school
- Financial or legal trouble related to substance abuse
- Inability to stop or control use, even if they may want to
- Continuing to use despite it causing problems or harm
Knowing what to look for is key to being able to see when someone needs help.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Childhood Trauma and Addiction
People who suffer from addiction may also have some form of mental disorder. In the case of PTSD, a mental disorder is what led to the addiction. However, addiction is what usually takes center stage during treatment. The disorder may not be diagnosed or treated. This is one of the reasons why relapse occurs.
Dual diagnosis treatment is a form of treatment in which a specialist identifies and provides a treatment plan for both addiction and PTSD, anxiety, or depression. When a person receives comprehensive treatment for both conditions, they are more likely to sustain their recovery without relapse.
Get Help for Childhood Trauma and Addiction at Women’s Recovery
If you are suffering from PTSD or another mental disorder from childhood trauma, you can get the help you need for a full recovery. Women’s Recovery offers comprehensive care for childhood trauma and addiction. We can help break the cycle of addiction while managing the symptoms of PTSD. Contact us at 833.754.0554 or via our online form to find out more about your treatment options.