The Underlying Connection Between Childhood Trauma and Addiction

Childhood is generally a time of discovery, innocence and happiness. Despite these typical experiences, a growing individual’s life can be instantly shattered by a traumatic event and fall victim to lasting psychological damage. In some cases, survivors of trauma may turn to drug or alcohol use in order to cope with the pain.

The toll of trauma

Experiencing trauma at any age can cause complex consequences to a person’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors, but childhood is an especially sensitive period. When a child witnesses or is victimized by a traumatic event, the incident can have extensive and lifelong impacts on the developing brain. Potential effects can be emotional, relational or physical, including:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Feelings of helplessness, powerlessness and hopelessness
  • Sadness and grief
  • Feelings of self blame, guilt and shame
  • An inability to trust others
  • Lower self-esteem
  • An increased risk of chronic health conditions including fibromyalgia, diabetes, headaches, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • A higher likelihood of co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and self-harming behaviors

How trauma leads to addiction

Recent studies have shown that a neurological connection may exist between childhood trauma and substance abuse. The amygdala, the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex are all involved in the body’s response to trauma. These three areas of the brain control threat perception (amygdala), processing memories (hippocampus) and executive control (prefrontal cortex).

When these areas of the brain are overactive, such as following a traumatic experience, an individual can become extremely overwhelmed with everyday life and societal challenges. Furthermore, a person may desire to escape these negative feelings and begin self-medicating through drugs and alcohol as they grow older. 

Tips for handling trauma triggers

A trauma survivor may develop a number of triggers that can lead to abusive and addictive behaviors. In order to prevent this from happening, experts recommend the following strategies: 

  • Surround yourself with support when overwhelming memories begin entering your thoughts
  • Engage in exercise, volunteering and positive activities that release soothing endorphins and other mood lifting chemicals within the body
  • Work with a therapist to accept what elements of life you cannot control or predict
  • Learn how to systematically dial down the intensity of your emotions through breathing and other meditative exercises
  • Begin picking apart your negative feelings and actions. Trace these responses to the thoughts that cause them and address their irrationalities

In the case of dealing with trauma, both treatment and recovery are possible. When treating an addicted individual who is also a survivor of childhood trauma, it is very important to follow a holistic approach where the addiction and anxiety are confronted equally. While detoxification programs address more immediate concerns, these services are not be equipped to handle the lasting mental health needs that result from serious trauma.

On the other hand, specialized residential treatment centers can handle these psychological needs as well as the side effects of drug or alcohol withdrawal. Survivors and their support systems must look for behavioral health care providers that offer detox and continuing care services for managing trauma-related illnesses.

Author Bio:  I’m a writer and blogger specializing in blog posts, press releases and web content for online businesses.Also write indifferent theme like Attorney law, web marketing, health, legal, logistics, etc. I am nature lover withkeen interest in global culture and heritage. I am Currently Work For  Sovereign Health Group

 

 

 

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