Childhood trauma is defined as events that occur in childhood that were dangerous, life-threatening, or scary. Following such life-altering events, a child develops emotional responses—like fear, shock, or denial—that are not easily forgotten, consequently shaping the way they develop throughout adolescence and into adulthood. These developments can create mental challenges that prevent them from healthily overcoming trauma, making them susceptible to developing a substance use disorder.
Research continues to expand upon the relationship between childhood trauma and addiction. Such analysis helps determine whether the ailment relates to your childhood experiences and how it shapes your physical and psychological development. Let’s further explore the relationship between childhood trauma and addiction by looking at the effects of trauma and how to cope with trauma in healthy ways.
Childhood Trauma and the Brain
The connection between childhood trauma and addiction can be best perceived when you understand what the experience means for the brain’s development. While you cannot prevent inheriting genetic qualities in the brain, the mind has a natural ability to react and adjust to environmental incitement, which is called neural plasticity.
Your brain begins to develop during childhood. As it begins to strengthen, it forms neural connections, which form an organization of neurons in the brain that permeate its various benefits and unique abilities from childhood trauma. Therefore, the experiences you encounter affect brain development in a similar way to learning to talk and walk, causing neurotransmitters to develop or break during childhood trauma.
While positive experiences influence the brain’s development, so do negative ones. Research has found that if you experience abuse during childhood, it can create continuous and significant degrees of stress that hinder your brain development. Therefore, these underlying interruptions of childhood trauma can make you more vulnerable to substance use disorders.
Trauma and Addiction
Determining a relationship between trauma and addiction is evident yet also complex. Many people attempting to manage trauma impacts in their lives may use medications and alcohol to self-sedate and cope with various emotional responses. PTSD symptoms like melancholy, social withdrawal might benefit from medications. However, addiction could always take hold and become more of an issue in a trauma survivor’s life.
It is especially true if you are using substances to self-medicate over time because you will require more and more until the desired amount is dangerous and possibly even fatal. Likewise, there may be a hereditary component connecting your PTSD and substance use disorder.
Childhood Trauma’s Affect on Adulthood
There is a connection between childhood trauma and addiction interruptions in the brain structure brought on by trauma. Such traumatic pressures can accentuate encounters during childhood to be connected to different substance use types and drive control disorders.
Such encounters can raise a vulnerability to addiction after enduring neglect, the departure of a parent, or seeing another relative who experiences a mental or substance use disorder. Further, those who encounter childhood trauma show an expanded inclination to become reliant on alcohol or other medications.
Additionally, some encounters experienced by children can have more of a traumatic impact than if they were encountered as an adult because children have restrictions in making contextual derivations. Such derivations limit the child from developing the skills necessary to deal with those experiences. The lack of these developmental skills transcends into adulthood and only improves when they learn how to develop these skills.
Helping Childhood Trauma
Many individuals who are managing addiction report encountering some physical or sexual childhood trauma. This is why it is crucial to understand how childhood trauma creates expanded vulnerability and addiction. Therefore, knowing that you have encountered trauma as a child could put you at greater risk for addiction, and it is why it is vital to take precautions to manage your trauma.
Childhood trauma can be brought on by various encounters regardless of your age. Trauma-related addictions are as much mental as they are physical. It is essential to find proper assessment and treatment that will address both issues. CBT, DBT, and EMDR therapies are great for helping you manage the root of your trauma and lend you tools to identify the feelings and behaviors attached. By addressing the mental aspect of trauma, you can learn how it relates to your chemical dependency and better manage the symptoms.
Therefore, you will want to undergo proper diagnosis and both therapeutic and treatment practices that address your mental and physical needs when seeking treatment. While getting help for your substance use is helpful, it might not help you discover the complexities of your addiction and the trauma that might feed it.
While understanding trauma and its relationship with addiction can be intimidating or challenging, there is a clear connection. Therefore, if you are experiencing trauma-related issues such as PTSD, anxiety, or stress and are using substances to cope, then the time to get help is now. Choice House is an established treatment center that helps both mental and substance use disorders in men. Our conventional and alternative approach to care ensures that you are getting the best experience to meet your individual needs. We also work with other Boulder, Colorado area treatment centers to find you the best detox or transitional living treatment for our patients. Our goal is to provide you with a setting that speaks to men’s needs, where you can feel safe and secure to overcome your addiction and trauma in the healthiest way possible. To find out more, reach out to us today by calling (720) 577-4422.