The Often Ignored Reality Behind Addiction - Trauma

The Often Ignored Reality Behind Addiction – Trauma

Domestic Violence and addictionMegan was just 12-years-old when a close relative first sexually abused her. Left feeling alone and helpless, she felt that overcoming this trauma was an impossible task and needed to find a way to cope. In her mind, life was simply becoming too much. She was offered help to begin a healing process, but she refused. She needed an escape from her life’s traumas and resorted to drugs.

What began as smoking marijuana on occasion to get high and forget her problems, quickly spiraled out of control. Megan needed more and more drugs in order to reach that same high and started inhaling anything she could get her hands on. It got to the point where her whole life unraveled. Megan didn’t care about her family, friends… she stopped caring about her own life.

I, Megan – you know, the girl next door – had many problems. Although a lot of teens probably feel as though they have problems, mine were rooted in something that wasn’t my fault: sexual abuse.”

It wasn’t until Megan made the courageous decision to enter treatment that she finally learned the skills she needed to communicate her feelings instead of hiding from them through drugs.

What Megan suffered as a child was a form of emotional trauma, something that is often overlooked despite the fact that it lies at the heart of many types of addiction. A study published last week further confirmed what treatment professionals have understood for years; that a history of childhood neglect or sexual, physical or emotional abuse is common among people undergoing treatment for alcoholism (and drug addiction) and may be a factor in the development of alcohol use disorders. The study further illustrated the fact that:

  • While the general population has physical abuse rates of 8.4%, the rate for alcoholics has been reported at 24% for men and 33% for women
  • While the rate of sexual abuse in the general population is around 6%, the rate for alcoholics has been reported at 12% for men and a staggering 49% for women
  • The rates of childhood emotional abuse and neglect are likely as prevalent among alcoholics as physical and sexual abuse and have similar long-term consequences, including increased rates of depression, anxiety, suicide and behavioral problems later in life.

Now what exactly is trauma? According to Larke Huang, director of the Office of Behavioral Healthcare Equity at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, trauma is “a stress that causes physical or emotional harm from which you cannot remove yourself.” It can be unique to each individual; in that what may be a traumatic event for you may not be one for someone else and vice versa. It can stem from:

  • Abuse (Physical, mental or emotional)
  • Neglect
  • Car accidents
  • Bullying
  • School killings
  • Sudden life change
  • Near death experience
  • Etc.

Traumatic events can be either experienced first hand or witnessed.

According to the researchers, one of the most destructive forms of trauma that can lead someone down the dark path of substance abuse is “chronic recurrent humiliation”—Bullying.

Recently, the news has been dominated by the controversy surrounding a new documentary called Bully that tackles the issue of bullying head on. The documentary is a first hand look at how bullying can affect a vulnerable child. When occurred during childhood, trauma can become extremely dangerous. Left with no frame of reference to contextualize their traumatic experiences, children are increasingly more likely to look for an escape in unhealthy ways such as self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. This escapism often leads to a full-blown alcohol and drug addiction.

Before you know it, what can start as suffering from a traumatic event, can quickly manifest into a second serious problem—substance abuse. Many are not aware that they are turning to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with a past traumatic event. Taking the courageous steps to enter a drug rehab treatment center for your struggle can tech you the skills necessary to cope with trauma in healthier ways.

Are you or a loved one struggling with alcohol and drug addiction because of a traumatic event? Our Trauma Recovery Program exercises treatment for both the traumatic experience and the addiction for full recovery. Call us toll-free at 855-678-8337


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