Addiction may stem from any number of factors such as genetics and environment. Substance abuse is often more complex than a serious of “bad choices” that seem to be depicted by the media. For some, it is tied to a history of trauma and abuse in a person’s environment. While rates of addiction are high among adult survivors of trauma, they are even worse for children, whose emotional and psychological development could be impaired by trauma.

What Is Trauma?

When trauma occurs early in life, it can have lasting negative consequences, sometimes leading to life-changing mental health and substance use disorders. A number of experiences constitute childhood trauma such as being physically abused, sexually assaulted, or physically or emotionally neglected. Other examples include being involved in serious accidents, having a close loved one die or disappear, or living in a dysfunctional household.

When events take place in childhood that are overwhelming, a child may change their perception of how they fit into the world. Studies have even shown that children who experience trauma also undergo physical changes in the brain. This includes changes to the size of the Hippocampus, an area of the brain in charge of regulating cortisol, memory, and learning.

How Can Childhood Trauma Lead to Addiction?

When a person is exposed to trauma as a child, they often develop survival-oriented behaviors. A variety of coping mechanisms become a common way to deal with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. In many cases, teens and adult survivors of childhood trauma turn to addictive substances for relief.

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a person who has experienced trauma will begin using substances 76 percent of the time. A study recently published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress concluded that there is a link between childhood abuse (emotional, physical, sexual) and adult substance abuse. The study examined data related to 2,000 patients and found that drug use and abuse was often a method to deal with untreated mental health issues of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Receive Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment at a Florida Drug Rehab

Substance use and abuse might be a way to self-medicate uncomfortable feelings, but it is not a long-term solution. Most people who have suffered trauma turn to substances to find relief, ease pain, feel safe and in control, and escape memories. This may work for a time, but drugs and alcohol are dangerous and have their own negative consequences.

Adults who suffered from childhood trauma that are driven to addiction typically have post-traumatic stress disorder, which could be one of the underlying causes of substance abuse. To be properly treated, adult addicts with trauma in their past must have a proper diagnosis and access to therapeutic treatment that will fit their particular needs.

While not everyone has a history of childhood trauma, as many as two-thirds of addicts in some studies have had this experience. Getting help at a Florida drug rehab that offers collaborative care and co-occurring disorder treatment is the best way to increase your chances of success in recovery.

Contact The Orlando Recovery Center now to learn more about our comprehensive treatment options that can help people who have suffered from childhood trauma. There is another way to live that doesn’t involve the pain of addiction and past hurts.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.