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Relationship Between Trauma and Substance Abuse



Trauma and substance abuse are both serious issues that can have a profound impact on your life. 

While they often go hand in hand, they are not the same thing. Trauma is defined as an event or series of events that have caused you to feel fear, helplessness, or horror. 

Substance abuse is defined as using alcohol or other drugs to cope with problems in your life. 

If you have experienced trauma and have struggled with addiction, then it’s important for you to understand the relationship between these two conditions before seeking treatment for either one of them. 

For example:


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Many people who suffer from addiction also grapple with past trauma

Trauma and addiction are both serious issues that can have a detrimental effect on the lives of those who suffer from them. 

It’s important to understand the link between trauma and addiction so that you can seek help if needed.

Many people who suffer from addiction also grapple with past trauma, whether it’s a result of childhood abuse or sexual assault during their teen years. 

Trauma can come in many forms, including physical violence, emotional abuse or neglect by caretakers (parents or guardians), rape, and domestic violence. 

Some people experience trauma when they witness others being abused—as often happens during drug overdoses where bystanders are present but do not intervene due to social stigma around overdose deaths

—but this type of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) typically does not qualify for treatment under insurance plans because it does not fall under one specific category: 

sexual assault versus physical harm versus witnessing death/suicide versus violent crime such as robbery/kidnapping/assault with intent to kill etcetera; 

however, suicide attempts may be covered if deemed “medically necessary” by doctors at hospitals if there is no other option available after exhausting all other options available within reason such as finding suitable housing first before attempting mental health services again later downstream once stabilized enough through proper treatment plan review over time.”


Trauma and substance abuse exist on a feedback loop

A key factor in determining the relationship between trauma and substance abuse is to look at how trauma and substance use affect each other. Trauma can lead to substance abuse and vice versa. 

However, when it comes to understanding the causes and effects of these two behaviors, it’s important not to oversimplify matters.

Trauma can cause people who have experienced trauma to turn toward substances as coping mechanisms. And drugs can be used as a way of numbing oneself from the pain caused by traumatic experiences. 

At the same time, some people may engage in addictive behaviors like drinking alcohol or doing drugs because they’re feeling depressed or anxious due to their past experiences with trauma—it’s a vicious cycle!

For someone experiencing both trauma and addiction problems (or even just one issue) effectively address these issues together instead of separately, he/she must understand how each issue affects both his/her mental health as well as his/her physical body.”


Experiencing trauma can make it more likely someone will develop a substance use issue

Experiencing trauma can make it more likely someone will develop a substance use issue. 

The link between trauma and substance abuse is complex, but in general, the more severe the trauma or stressor, the greater the risk of developing problems with drinking or drug use.

Trauma can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which increases your risk of developing a substance use disorder as well. 

Someone with PTSD may turn to alcohol or other drugs to cope with the symptoms of anxiety and depression caused by these troubling memories.


Going through withdrawal can trigger PTSD symptoms

Sometimes, people who are trying to quit using substances may not be able to do so without experiencing some health problems. 

For example, when someone goes through alcohol or drug withdrawal, they may become anxious, depressed, and even experience other mental health issues. 

These symptoms can make it more difficult for that person to get treatment for their substance use disorder (SUD).

In some cases, these withdrawal symptoms may cause people to use substances again because they think they need them to cope with the pain or discomfort of going through withdrawal. 

In other cases, these same withdrawal symptoms might cause people who have been clean for a long time with no relapse at all suddenly start using again because they think that the only way they’ll feel better is if there are drugs available so that they don’t have any more uncomfortable withdrawals like this again!


Some people find that recovery from substance abuse helps them heal from trauma

You’re not alone. Many people find that recovery from substance abuse helps them heal from trauma. 

Alcohol and drug addiction are often symptoms of other issues, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

If you’ve been using alcohol or drugs to cope with painful experiences, you may be able to address the root cause by getting sober.

Some people recover from substance abuse and discover that their problems still exist—but now they have more tools for coping with them. 

For example, someone who has struggled with depression for years may start drinking heavily to numb their feelings; 

getting clean allows them to try therapy or medication without exacerbating their mental health problems by mixing substances with alcohol or drugs like marijuana. 

Another person might have experienced sexual assault while he was drunk; now he can access support groups specifically designed for victims of rape and sexual assault so that his experience doesn’t feel shameful anymore!


Recovery and trauma treatment each play a vital role in healing

Recovery and trauma treatment each play a vital role in healing. If you are in recovery from addiction, you may benefit from trauma treatment. 

Likewise, if you are in trauma treatment and need to heal your body and mind, you may benefit from recovery from addiction. 

Some of the common conditions that can result when an individual is suffering from both substance abuse issues and PTSD include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders (panic attacks)
  • Anger problems.


For some people, recovering from addiction may mean addressing underlying trauma

For some people, recovering from addiction may mean addressing underlying trauma.

Even if your substance abuse didn’t start with trauma, it’s important to evaluate whether or not you have any unresolved issues. 

If you’re thinking about becoming sober for the first time, or if you’ve been sober for a long time and are experiencing cravings again, it might be time to talk about why that is happening and what needs to change in your life so that addiction doesn’t have a chance to rear its ugly head again.



As we have seen in the article above, trauma and substance use disorder have a direct link, as one can lead to another. 

If you’re struggling with addiction, it can be tempting to turn a blind eye to trauma. 

But the sooner you get help for both your substance use disorder and trauma, the better off you’ll be. If you or someone you love is dealing with either of these issues, we encourage you to reach out for support today.


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