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How Trauma Can Influence Substance Abuse

Experts define trauma as a deeply disturbing experience. But if you’ve experienced trauma in your life, including sexual violence, domestic abuse, or childhood neglect, such a simple description seems underwhelming. Trauma is something that affects every area of your life. Subsequently, it may interrupt your sleep patterns or cause you to feel fear at the thought of leaving your house. Victims of trauma all suffer differently. However, one fact remains true across the board: everyone wants to find relief from the negative feelings trauma leaves in its wake. For many, this means self-medicating through the use of drugs or alcohol. For these reasons, we often find links between trauma and substance abuse. A program like trauma therapy can help you heal emotional scars.

The Toxic Relationship Between Trauma and Substance Abuse

For some, trauma comes first, and addiction happens because of it. Causes of trauma include:

  • Surviving an event in which a friend or family member died
  • Experiencing neglect or abuse in childhood
  • Surviving war experiences
  • Suffering abuse at the hands of a spouse or partner
  • Being mugged or assaulted on the street
  • Witnessing a terror attack

Any event or experience that terrorizes you or makes you feel trapped or helpless can become a source of trauma. There are victims of trauma every day in America. These include parents who experience the sudden loss of a child or high schoolers who witness a school shooting. And trauma leaves behind feelings that are difficult to process or even to survive. When those feelings overwhelm, drugs or alcohol seem like the easy answer. Scientists are still researching the links between trauma and substance abuse.

When Substance Use Disorder Precedes Trauma

In some instances, drug and alcohol addiction happen first, and trauma is secondary. For instance, someone who drives while intoxicated may accidentally kill another driver or their family. Or a person under the influence of a drug such as methamphetamine may walk into traffic and receive a life-altering injury. Substance use disorder can also cause chronic conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, that reduce an individual’s quality of life. Many people feel irritable or agitated when they drink alcohol, which could lead to domestic violence. Any of these fit the description of trauma. Consequently, they only serve to strengthen the relationship between trauma and substance abuse.

How a Dual Diagnosis Can Help Heal Trauma and Substance Abuse

When a client suffers from a substance use disorder and a second condition such as trauma, they need a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis simply means that a secondary mental wellness issue is happening alongside addiction. In addition to trauma, many other conditions commonly co-occur with addiction, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Treatment for co-occurring disorders must take place concurrent with treatment for substance use disorder. Otherwise, the chances of recovery are slim. While it’s a bit more complicated to treat a dual diagnosis, treatment is common, and help is readily available. Clinicians may prescribe replacement medications, behavioral counseling, and other forms of therapy that target both the addiction and the co-occurring condition. In this way, the client receives all the help they need to become well and strong while recovering from substance use disorder.

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis at Atlantic Recovery Center

For clients living in South Florida, Atlantic Recovery Center is a sound solution to treat trauma and substance abuse. Using a combination of evidence-based therapies, the highly trained medical staff at Atlantic Recovery Center will guide you gently into recovery from addiction and any mental wellness issues you may also be experiencing. Visit us online or call today at 1-866-824-5193 to learn more about the dual-diagnosis treatment program at Atlantic Recovery Center.