Published On: February 18, 2020
Updated On: November 14, 2022
Addiction develops in individuals for several reasons, and substance abuse is a disease that knows no specific gender, nationality, race, or economic status.
Both short and long-term trauma can lead to struggles with addiction. The link between trauma and addiction is often poorly understood, leading to less support for the individuals in the midst of it.
In this blog, we will be looking at:
- What percentage of addicts have trauma?
- What is complex trauma?
- What are the effects of complex trauma?
- How does trauma affect addiction?
What Percentage of Addicts Have Trauma?
Studies indicate that up to 59 percent of young people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develop substance abuse problems. When individuals abuse drugs or alcohol to deal with past trauma, it becomes more difficult for an individual to stop using.
What is Complex Trauma?
Psychology Today credits Dr. Christine Courtois with defining complex trauma as “a type of trauma that occurs repeatedly and builds up, usually over a while and within specific relationships and contexts.”
When it occurs over a prolonged time frame, this direct harm can create “conditions of vulnerability associated with disability, disempowerment, dependency, age, infirmity, and others.”
Complex trauma often occurs in childhood and adolescence, but an acknowledgment of the event typically doesn’t happen until adulthood, and even then, treatment is scarce. Regardless, complex trauma negatively impacts individuals and must be dealt with in a healthy, safe manner.
Complex PTSD and Trauma Symptoms From Mayo Clinic
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
- Avoidance of topics, places, or individuals who remind you of the traumatic event
- Adverse changes in thinking and mood
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Always being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
- Suicidal thoughts
The Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES) found that survivors of childhood trauma are up to 5,000 percent more likely to attempt suicide, have eating disorders, or become IV drug users. This makes early diagnosis and treatment essential to living a healthy life for these individuals.
What Are the Effects of Complex Trauma?
The effects of complex trauma on the body are profound. Physical, mental, and emotional challenges are derived from complex trauma, including:
Resistance to relationships: Victims of complex trauma find it difficult to form and nurture strong relationships. Trust is often lacking, and victims find it difficult to express or control emotions.
Unable to handle stress: The brain can begin to interpret any traumatic event as “extreme” stress, causing the victim to respond irrationally, often turning to drugs or alcohol.
Restricted emotional responses: Complex trauma can cause victims to have a limited available reaction to emotional situations. They often have difficulty identifying, expressing, and managing emotions.
Dissociation: The complex trauma victim may learn to dissociate themselves from their own bodies or reality. They begin viewing their life as something happening to them, not something they are actively involved in.
Behavior: An internal struggle may exist that prohibits the victim from knowing how to calm down, forcing them to act out in violence or self-harm, including drug use.
Complex trauma can affect a victim’s physical, emotional, and mental state. Diagnosing the patient on all levels instead of only addressing the drug dependency is key to achieving sobriety.
How Does Trauma Affect Addiction?
Research shows one of the primary reasons for dependency is the event of trauma in an individual’s life. The National Council for Behavioral Health estimates that 70 percent of adults in the U.S. have suffered a traumatic experience.
Science reveals trauma is a significant risk factor in nearly all behavioral health and substance use disorders. Complex trauma and addiction are highly connected.
Research shows drug dependency can be directly connected to complex traumatic experiences during adolescence when it’s never adequately diagnosed and treated.
One in four children and adolescents in the United States experiences at least one potentially traumatic event before age 16.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Trauma and Addiction
As a leading addiction treatment center in Scottsdale, AZ, Soul Surgery specializes in dual diagnosis and strategically achieving positive outcomes for patients battling substance abuse and mental health problems.
Complex trauma distorts how people perceive themselves, those around them, and daily life events; It takes an experienced drug treatment facility to personalize treatment plans for each patient and to accurately and effectively treat co-occurring disorders.
Dual diagnosis offers assessment and treatment of substance use issues and mental health problems, like anxiety, eating disorders, depression, bipolar disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more.
The drug treatment specialists at Soul Surgery Rehab consider your substance use and mental health while creating a treatment plan personalized to your needs.
Don’t continue to live in the aftermath of complex trauma through unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse – contact us today and take your first step into a balanced, sober life.