One of the things that clients often learn in recovery at an addiction treatment center is the connection between childhood trauma and addiction. Trauma therapy focuses on tracing the traumatic event and the emergence of alcoholism in a person’s life. The treatment creates an awareness of this connection that the client may have been unaware of.
Trauma can range from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse to living in a volatile home environment or witnessing a traumatic event. In many cases, a person who experiences trauma may not feel the effects of it for many years. As adults, they may start to suffer from mental health disorders, physical problems, or addiction. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between trauma and addiction.
What Is Childhood Trauma?
A trauma or traumatic event is a violent, dangerous, or frightening event that threatens the life or integrity of a child. The child does not have to experience the event to be traumatized by it personally. Witnessing an event like the death of a loved one or a natural disaster can trigger emotional trauma that has an impact on children into adulthood. This level of trauma typically requires professional help from a substance abuse treatment program as the victim suffers from addiction during adulthood.
Common forms of trauma include:
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Addiction in the home
- Death of a loved one
- Witnessing a natural disaster
- Car accident
When children are in situations where they fear for their lives, believe they may be injured, or lose a loved one, they may show signs of anxiety and stress for many years after the initial event.
Childhood Trauma Linked to Addiction
How is trauma linked to addiction? The long-term effects of trauma can start as early as 30 days after the traumatic event and last for several years. Unfortunately, a person who has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may not recognize the symptoms of their condition.
Consequently, they are not equipped to deal with the emotional and physical symptoms of PTSD. They may turn to alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescriptions to help them cope with trauma. They may form an addiction or dependency on the substance. They may continue their addiction for years instead of properly addressing the emotional trauma.
Behavioral and Psychological Trauma Symptoms
Many of the behavioral and psychological symptoms of PTSD or a similar trauma condition often lead to heavy drinking or drug use. These symptoms may include:
- Prolonged irritability or anxiety
- Erratic changes in behavior and mood
- Nervousness and fear when there is no reason for it
- Lack of confidence and timidity
- Reliving the event in their mind
- Inappropriate or excessive display of emotions
A defining characteristic of PTSD is the avoidance of things that may remind the victim of the trauma. They may avoid people, places, experiences, or certain situations that trigger their emotions. Instead of going out with friends on a road trip, they may stay home if they were in a car accident on a family vacation as a child.
Treatment for Trauma and Addiction
A person who experienced childhood trauma may require professional trauma therapy that is designed to help them with their specific condition. Trauma-informed care is ideal for victims who may not be able to go through traditional therapy for fear of reliving the event over and again during sessions.
A trauma therapy program may include outpatient care, support groups, and individual or family therapy. Treatment is focused on co-occurring disorders such as trauma and addiction. The goal of therapy is long-term recovery without relapse. Clients can learn how to manage the symptoms of PTSD while overcoming their addiction.
Learn More About Childhood Trauma and Addiction at Midwest Recovery Center
If you are the victim of childhood trauma and need professional help for addiction, then contact Midwest Recovery Center. We offer addiction treatment therapies, including trauma therapy.
Call Midwest Recovery Center at 833.627.0039 to find out more about your treatment options and to get started on your road to recovery.