Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Trauma, and Addiction
The link between trauma and addiction can present itself as a destructive cycle. The risk of substance abuse increases as a result of trauma. It’s important to note that substance abuse also heightens the chance of being re-traumatized. Individuals abusing drugs or alcohol are less able to cope with traumatic experiences.
A person might develop an addiction to numb the pain of trauma, or to provide a temporary distraction from it. Addiction as a coping mechanism can be seen in certain behaviors, too. Process addictions like gambling and sex are also common among people who have experienced trauma.
Studies in the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research found powerful links between substance abuse and childhood trauma. For each traumatic experience, the risk of substance abuse increases as much as 2 to 4 times. Additionally, people with five or more Adverse Childhood Experiences are 7-10 times more likely to become substance abusers.
Almost two-thirds of IV drug users report abusive and traumatic childhood experiences.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), details more correlations between trauma and addiction:
- 75% of individuals in treatment for substance abuse report histories of abuse and trauma.
- 12-34% of people in behavioral health treatment have been diagnosed with or are experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Because of the relationship between trauma and addiction, specialized co-occurring clinical care must be considered for the best possible outcomes. An individual can work hard to develop healthy skills and tools that they can use to combat their addiction. However, if the underlying trauma has not been addressed and treated it will most likely resurface, leading to destructive behaviors and re-entry into the cycle of self-medication with substances. A comprehensive program is needed to address the trauma, the addiction and the individual needs of each person.
If you or a loved one need support healing from trauma and addiction, Recovery Ways wants to help. Please reach out to us today.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or depression, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier mental health and drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.