Is Trauma a Risk Factor for Addiction?

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Addiction is a complex disease with a wide range of risk factors. For example, we know that the children of addicts are more likely to struggle with addiction as they get older. Both genetics and the environment play a role in a person’s risk for addiction, as well as how they respond to an Arizona rehab program.

In particular, childhood trauma is a topic that comes up frequently when treating substance use disorders. While genetics do influence a person’s risk for dependency, a specific root cause is often found to be the driving factor. And for many people, this root cause is childhood trauma.

Understanding Childhood Trauma

When most people think of childhood trauma, they often associate it with some type of mental, physical or emotional abuse. But trauma takes on many forms and can lead to intense emotional responses that you can’t control.

Some common examples of childhood trauma are:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Mental or emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Bullying
  • Natural disasters
  • Domestic violence
  • Community violence
  • Grief and loss
  • Terrorism

It’s important to point out that you can suffer from trauma without actually going through it yourself. Witnessing an event, such as a natural disaster or a domestic dispute, can cause the same distressing symptoms.

Furthermore, everyone experiences trauma differently. It’s not so much the event that happened but how you experienced it. This is why some people go on to develop post-traumatic stress symptoms and others do not. It has to do with how a person experiences and internalizes the event.

Why is There a Link Between Trauma and Substance Use?

Research confirms that exposure to traumatic experiences, particularly those experienced in childhood, are linked with substance use disorders. SUDs also often co-occur with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mood disorders.

The reason why trauma can slip into addiction is because trauma survivors tend to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. This is an attempt to escape from their painful memories, but all it does is create new problems. Drugs and alcohol have their own effects on the brain, and they often create a lifestyle that leads to more trauma and negative experiences.

Fortunately, it is possible to treat unresolved trauma and addiction at the same time. Wolf Creek Recovery is a highly rated Arizona treatment center that provides evidence-based and holistic therapies for substance use disorders, trauma, grief and loss.

We understand that these clients require a certain level of care and compassion as they learn to process unresolved trauma, develop new coping skills and heal from their addiction. Contact our admissions department to speak with a caring, compassionate admissions specialist.