Individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) may not realize that there is a root cause to their struggle. For example, trauma often directly influences the development of SUD and other mental health conditions later in life. That often includes childhood trauma.
Childhood traumas impact people mentally and emotionally, sometimes leading to the development of co-occurring disorders like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to recover from SUD, you must treat all present mental health conditions. That includes getting to the root cause and working through past childhood traumas.
Understanding how childhood trauma affects us is crucial for the healing process. Only then can we grow, learn, and make necessary changes to improve our lives and well-being.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) defines trauma as “the experiencing or witnessing of events” where death, injury, or violence may be threatened or occurring. It occurs “when frightening events or situations overwhelm a child’s or adult’s ability to cope or deal with what has happened.” A traumatic event may include a natural disaster, a car accident, domestic violence, or other cases of abuse. Other examples of potentially traumatic events and experiences include:
The impact of trauma also depends on additional factors. For example, the HHS indicates that traumatic events can be influenced by:
Our bodies respond to trauma naturally, whether that is physically or psychologically. Unfortunately, we can not always know how we are going to react. Some people can not handle their natural response to trauma and turn to alcohol or drug use to cope. Self-medication is not a solution, however, and typically leads individuals toward a path of addiction.
Men can experience trauma at any age, but many of us may ask whether or not childhood experiences can be more harmful.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that over two-thirds of children report at least one traumatic event by 16 years old. Traumatic childhood events range from bullying at school to physical abuse at home. The number of children who report experiencing traumatic events is alarming, and that does not even include the cases we do not know about.
Some fast facts the SAMHSA offers about childhood trauma include:
Additionally, SAMHSA demonstrates how individuals can recognize the signs of traumatic stress in children by age group:
If you recall experiencing any of these signs, you may have experienced a traumatic event in your childhood. Some of us block out such experiences, but a struggle with SUD may be linked to childhood trauma.
According to the journal Depression and Anxiety, early traumata can increase the risk of SUD because an individual may attempt to self-medicate or dampen “mood symptoms associated with a dysregulated biological stress response.” Though overcoming trauma and addiction can be challenging, it is far from impossible. Evidence-based therapies, medical-assisted treatment (MAT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EDMR), and behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are effective. Other specialized treatment programs can also help individuals overcome childhood trauma and addiction.
There is no ironclad formula to prevent childhood trauma from leading to SUD. However, recognizing the signs of childhood trauma, reporting instances of abuse, and teaching children healthy coping techniques is a start.
If your childhood trauma has led to a life of substance use and addiction, know you can overcome that trauma by seeking treatment today.
Childhood trauma can easily lead to a struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) later in life. Experiencing childhood trauma and the inability to cope healthily leads some men to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Self-medicating like this can quickly turn into SUD. Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent childhood trauma from leading to SUD. However, recognizing the signs of trauma and teaching healthy coping skills can help. Furthermore, individuals struggling with SUD because of childhood trauma can overcome struggles through treatment, utilizing a number of evidence-based treatments and behavioral therapies. Call Healing Pines Recovery at (720) 575-2621 to learn about how our specialized treatment programs can help you achieve recovery today.
The first step can be the hardest. Fill out the form or call us at 720-706-7980. You will be connected with a Healing Pines Recovery specialist who can answer your questions and help you get started.