June is PTSD Awareness Month, so it’s important to spread awareness about the impacts of trauma. This includes the ties between trauma and addiction, as many people who struggle with substance use disorder have also struggled with trauma. The causes of addiction are many, but one of the most common is a history of trauma. The impacts of trauma can be severe, even sometimes leading to the development of mental health issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dealing with the impacts of trauma can be a challenge. So, many people who struggle with experiencing trauma turn towards drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, leading to a cycle of use and the eventual development of addiction.
It can be helpful to understand more about the relationship between trauma and addiction in order for people who struggle with both to learn more about the available resources and treatment that may be helpful to them.
Identifying What Trauma Is
Trauma is an experience an individual may face that can present a number of difficult and debilitating symptoms to a person’s life. Trauma triggers the fight or flight response, which is a defense mechanism to high stress and fear levels, that allows for the release of specific hormones. This can help a person to react in a dangerous situation so they are better suited for survival. However, sometimes, people who have experienced trauma have a long-term reaction to trauma which involves the body’s fight or flight response to react all the time, leading to a number of debilitating side effects. One of which being the neglect of knowing the difference between actual danger and situations or things that aren’t actually dangerous at all.
This is why, often, people who develop PTSD may not be able to move on with their lives – constantly being sucked back into the time period they have experienced a traumatic event. And, living with debilitating symptoms as the result of not being able to move forward from traumatic events.
Experiences of Trauma
There are a number of things that can be classified as traumatic. And, every person may experience trauma differently. So, while some people may be able to experience trauma and eventually move on with their lives, others may experience trauma and eventually develop PTSD. Some examples of traumatic experiences that can lead to PTSD include:
- living through a natural disaster
- being the survivor of a vehicular accident
- surviving childhood abuse
- sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
- being diagnosed with a chronic illness
- experiencing a life-altering injury
- witnessing or being the victim of a violent crime
- war combat
- losing a loved one or loved ones suddenly
Trauma and Addiction
In many cases, the effects of PTSD and living through traumatic events can be debilitating. These symptoms can negatively affect relationships, careers, and social lives. They can also lead to negative feelings of hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and despair. So, many people who develop PTSD may look for an outlet in order to manage these symptoms. This outlet is often the numbing effects of drugs or alcohol. Over time, using addictive substances can lead to dependency and a cycle of addiction.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Delray Center for Recovery
When a person is living with two mental health issues, like PTSD and substance use disorder, this is known as dual diagnosis. It’s important for people living with two or more mental health issues to get help for them simultaneously. This improves the chance of sustainable recovery. Delray Center for Recovery offers dual diagnosis treatment in order to address multiple mental health diagnoses. Find out more about our dual diagnoses program available at our outpatient Delray Center treatment facility on our website.