Why Trauma Often Leads to Substance Abuse
The Connection Between Trauma and Substance Abuse
There is a clear connection between trauma and substance abuse. Often those who are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD, will also deal with substance use disorders. Cooccurring disorders such as trauma and substance abuse, are quite common in alcohol and drug treatment and must be addressed together through a dual diagnosis program for there to be any chance of full addiction recovery. Posttraumatic stress leads to many symptoms of mental illness, which causes these individuals to self medicate with alcohol and drugs in order to cope. Abusing drugs or alcohol can lead to addiction over time, especially when underlying trauma, such as childhood abuse, continues to go untreated.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is an event, or series of traumatic events, experienced by an individual as emotionally or physically harmful or life threatening, causing lasting adverse effects on the individual’s social, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Types of trauma include natural disasters, wars, accidents, rape, abusive relationships, and physical assault. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are common. Long-term reactions include flashbacks, unpredictable emotions, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms like nausea or headaches. Mental health treatments and medication management can be very effective for helping people move on from traumatic events. It is important to note that anyone can develop post traumatic stress disorder PTSD after a traumatic experience.
Risk Factors for Developing a Substance Use Disorder
There are several risk factors for developing substance use disorders, including traumatic experiences. Genetics and heredity are major risk factors for alcohol and drug addiction. Cooccurring disorders like major depression, post traumatic stress disorder PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, and other mental illnesses are also high risk factors for substance abuse, which can lead to addiction. Environment is another risk for substance dependence, such as how a person grew up, including childhood trauma or using drugs or alcohol at a young age which can worsen mental health conditions.
Signs of Co-Occurring Trauma and Substance Abuse
Substance misuse and mental health disorders are commonly connected. Cooccurring disorders can make addiction treatment more complicated, but recovery is possible through dual diagnosis treatment. Signs and symptoms someone may be dealing with trauma and addiction include:
- Social isolation, avoiding people, places or activities
- Sudden changes in behavior, such as easily irritated or angered
- Risky behavior, such as using substances under dangerous conditions
- Developing tolerance to substance use
- Loss of control over how much they use drugs and alcohol
- Withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop drug or alcohol
- Cravings for the drug or alcohol
- Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
- Relieving traumatic experiences and having nightmares and flashbacks
- Severe anxiety
- Major depression
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Feelings emotionally numb
- Easily startled or frightened
- Always on guard for danger
Trauma Therapies Used in Addiction Treatment
Both substance use and trauma are complex mental illnesses and require ongoing care for substance use and mental health treatment over time. A treatment center with dual diagnosis programming can be the most effective form of substance misuse treatment. Through specialty programs, both substance use disorders and posttraumatic stress disorders will be treated simultaneously to get to the root of alcohol and drug addiction. Within trauma and addiction treatment, several therapies are available including trauma informed therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, individual therapy, medication assisted treatment mat, group therapy, and other forms of mental health treatment.
Treatment for Traumatic Stress and Substance Abuse at DayBreak
DayBreak Treatment Solutions offers various levels of care to fit the needs of anyone dealing co-occurring disorders in substance use disorder. Our specialty programs include substance misuse detox, inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient program (IOP), partial hospitalization program (PHP), and other forms of outpatient treatment. Our dual diagnosis program can help treat substance use disorder and mental health disorders simultaneously to give you the best chance of long-term addiction recovery. Please give us a call today at (844) 695-0083 to learn more about our substance use and trauma treatment programs available.