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The Truth About Psychological Trauma and Drug Addiction

The Truth About Psychological Trauma and Drug Addiction

The connection between trauma, victimization, and addiction are often overlooked when it comes to treating addiction. However, going to meetings and getting a sponsor is not enough to ensure a full recovery for everyone. For some, it is necessary to address the underlying traumatic reasons for developing and sustaining addiction.

Challenges Brought on by Trauma

Trauma can lead to physical mental and emotional symptoms. The challenge with trauma is each person deals with trauma differently from the next. Individuals in recovery that have been affected by trauma are at an increased risk of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and high-stress levels
  • Relapse through self-medication
  • Attachment issues
  • Extreme fluctuations in mood
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Symptoms of chronic pain
  • Posttraumatic Stress / Trauma

According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network,, those who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs than the general public. They are:

  • 3.4 times more likely to use marijuana
  • 6 times more likely to use cocaine
  • 10 times more likely to use other major drugs

Trauma is a distressing event in which a person feels threatened emotionally, psychologically or physically. Most people will experience trauma at some point in their lives. Whether it’s a car accident, abuse, neglect, or grieving the death of a loved one. While most people recover from trauma with the right support, others find that the effects of trauma are long lasting.

A person with trauma may live with deep emotional pain, fear, confusion or post-traumatic stress long after the traumatic event as past. Through suppose, guidance, and mental health treatment, healing is possible, but it certainly is not a quick process.

Some people associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with war veterans, and while veterans commonly endure PTSD, anyone can endure PTSD.  Traumatic incidences like death, sexual assault, physical and emotional abuse can lead to PTSD symptoms.

PTSD is defined as the psychological reaction to severely stressful and threatening events. PTSD results in anxiety, flashbacks, depression and suicidal ideations. People who experience PTSD may continue to feel anxious even when no danger is present.

Studies reveal that 3.5% of the U.S. population will experience PTSD in any given 12-month period, and almost 37% of these cases can be classified as “severe.” Although men are more likely to experience traumatic events, women are actually twice more likely to develop PTSD from traumatic events than men are.  Some theorize this is due to the fact that women experience sexual assault at a higher rate than men do.

Not all trauma leads to PTSD. In fact, most do not. Some people are better able to develop effective coping strategies for their trauma such as therapy, support systems, and spirituality. The reason some are more resilient to trauma than others varies significantly. No one should feel ashamed about the way they manage and react to trauma.

Addiction is a major risk for those that endure trauma. The use of drugs can be a coping mechanism to temporally escape the PTSD symptoms commonly associated with trauma. Furthermore, mental illness like depression and anxiety often lead to the use of substances as a coping strategy. If you are struggling with mental illness or addiction, please call now 1-800-777-9588.

Author: Shernide Delva

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