Trauma and Addiction

Trauma can affect anyone in any walk of life. While certain people might be more prone to traumatic experiences based on a variety of different factors, such as their job, traumatic experiences aren’t exclusive to any certain person. After a traumatic experience, everyone deals with the effects of that experience in their own way. 

Unfortunately, many people turn to drugs and alcohol to help numb the pain from the experience and help them forget about it. For some people, they feel shame or embarrassment as a result of their experience and turn to substances to try and forget it happened. Many times, this can lead to addiction. On this page, we are going to take a look at the connection between trauma and addiction.

What Is Trauma?

While many people associate trauma with witnessing or experiencing something violent or scary, there are many different things that can be deemed traumatic. In fact, when a person fears for his/her safety or experiences intense pain that person can also be described as having experienced trauma. 

How someone reacts to their traumatic experience can vary based on a number of factors such as age and just how traumatic the experience itself was. For example, if someone experienced trauma when they were a child, it is likely to have more severe lasting effects on them than if that same experience had happened when they were an adult. This is because they likely did not get the services they needed at the time and chances are they had no advocate either. Some common example of trauma or traumatic experiences include:

  • Domestic violence
  • Natural disasters
  • Growing up in an unstable home
  • Battling a life-threatening condition
  • Witnessing a graphic injury or death
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual abuse such as rape
  • Military combat
  • Car accidents
  • Repeated bullying
  • Street violence

If trauma is not addressed properly and promptly, it can lead to significant adverse effects on a person’s life. PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is one of the most common ailments that can occur as a result of trauma.

What Are Some Signs of Trauma?

Many people that suffer from trauma try and hide it the best they can. For some, the traumatic experience was so embarrassing or shameful to them that they bury it and don’t want anyone to ever know about it. While it can be tough to identify at times, there are some signs and symptoms to look out for when it comes to someone suffering from trauma, including:

How Does Trauma Affect the Human Body?

The human body is highly regulated. While it is resilient, it can also be very sensitive. Just the slightest change internally can send the body spiraling out of control. A great example of this is trauma and the way the body reacts to trauma and stress. If you find yourself in a scary or potentially dangerous situation, your body’s first instinct is to do something that will keep you safe. 

When that happens, your body immediately produces a significant amount of adrenaline, opening up the airways and increasing the heart rate. Your body will react differently depending on the severity of the situation. 

If your body goes through a very traumatic experience, or experiences trauma frequently, it can be damaging to the body’s physiological systems. Trauma responses act on several systems that affect a person’s physiology. In fact, according to the CDC, exposure to trauma leads to a variety of biological changes and stress responses. These biological changes relate to PTSD, other mental illnesses, and substance abuse disorders. Some of the biological changes doctors have seen include:

How Can Trauma Lead To Addiction?

Everyone handles things that happen in their lives differently. How we handle certain situations can go a long way in determining the effects it has on our lives. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from trauma turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Often, this can lead to substance abuse. 

trauma and addiction

When someone finds themselves suffering from both trauma and addiction, it can be considered a co-occurring disorder. So, how exactly can trauma lead to addiction? Well, the answer can be more complicated than you think.

For starters, as mentioned above, some people have trouble dealing with the effects of the traumatic experience and turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Symptoms of trauma, such as insomnia, agitation, depression, social withdrawal, and hypersensitivity to loud noises or sudden movement may seem more manageable to the person suffering if they use drugs or alcohol. In reality, though, that “cure” actually causes more problems in the long run, with addiction being the biggest issue. 

Additionally, there is also a correlation between trauma and addiction when it comes to lifestyle choices. Someone who has a tendency to put themselves in harm’s way more often has a higher chance of not just succumbing to addiction, but putting themselves in a position where experiencing trauma is more likely. Unsavory acquaintances, dangerous neighborhoods, impaired driving, and other potentially dangerous things that are associated with substance abuse can also increase the chances of a traumatic experience such as crime, accidents, violence, and abuse.

There is also a genetic component to the correlation between trauma and addiction. Those who have a greater chance of developing an addiction due to their genetic makeup are more likely to develop an addiction if they undergo a traumatic experience than someone who doesn’t have addiction running in their family. 

How Can I Treat Both My Trauma and Addiction?

The first step in getting the help you need for both trauma and addiction is admitting that you have a problem and need help. For many people who suffer from addiction as a result of their trauma, not doing this, in the beginning, played a major roll in the development of the addiction. Getting help for your trauma right away can go a long way in preventing the development of a substance abuse addiction down the road.

Before treatment can begin for both the trauma and the addiction, the person affected must first undergo detox treatment for the substance or substances of abuse. During the detox process, the person will rid their bodies of whatever substances they grew dependant on or addicted to. This typically occurs in a professional detox center, a facility that provides detox services, or at a medical facility that provides detox services.

Due to the reaction that detox has on your body, it is crucial that detox is done in a facility that has trained medical professionals. Self-detoxing can be incredibly dangerous and even life-threatening.

Inpatient Treatment and Therapy

After detox, you will enter either inpatient or outpatient treatment. Your therapist will recommend what type of treatment to enter based on what works best for you. During treatment, you will participate in various forms of therapy. Therapy works to address not just your addiction but what led to your addiction. 

Therapy is a great way to not only help treat your trauma, but it also helps you identify what exactly drove you to drugs and alcohol in the first place. It helps you look within yourself and allows you to come to terms with the issues that have arisen. It also teaches you healthier ways to deal with your trauma that doesn’t involve turning to drugs and alcohol.

At Coastal Detox, we are proud to offer a wide variety of therapy programs. Each program works to help the patient the best way possible. Our team of licensed clinicians presents therapy approaches that can help each client learn how to live a healthy, fulfilling, sober life. These therapies include:

Want To Know More About the Connection Between Trauma and Addiction?

While it’s not always possible to prevent traumatic experiences from happening, it is possible to prevent that traumatic experience from causing your life to spiral out of control. Addressing the traumatic experience and getting help for it early can go a long way in helping the prevention of an addiction developing. For those that might have developed an addiction as a result of their traumatic experience, we are here to help.

At Coastal Detox, we don’t want you to go even another day with your addiction having a stronghold over your life. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction as a result of experiencing trauma, contact us today to learn more about the treatment programs that we offer.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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