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What is the Relationship Between Substance Use and Trauma?

What is the Relationship Between Substance Use and Trauma?

What is the Relationship Between Substance Use and Trauma?

Every year, more than 20 million adults in the United States alone suffer from a substance use disorder – 75% of which are addicted to alcohol. In fact, substance use is one of the leading causes of death – with more than 100,000 people dying from drug overdose annually in the US. Likewise, millions of people struggle to overcome trauma, whether it’s due to violence, physical abuse, a natural disaster, or any other traumatic event. This can lead to a wide range of other mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. 

As we learn more about the various factors that play a role in substance use and trauma, it’s clear there’s a deep connection between the two. Not only can traumatic experiences lead to substance abuse, but substance use can result in a traumatic experience – it works both ways. 

What Are the Signs of Trauma?

According to SAMHSA, trauma is defined as an event or circumstance that results in physical harm, emotional harm, or life-threatening harm – which has a lasting effect on the person’s mental, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual health. Proper treatment is required. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common and prominent warning signs of trauma: 

  • Cognitive Signs – intrusive thoughts, nightmares, visual images, memory loss, having difficulty focusing, feeling disoriented, confusion, mood swings.
  • Behavioral Signs – avoiding things that trigger the trauma, social isolation, withdrawal, and lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed.
  • Physical Signs – excessive fatigue or exhaustion, agitation, insomnia, feeling easily startled or on edge, Tachycardia, sexual dysfunction, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, aches, pains, always feeling alert. 
  • Psychological Signs – excessive fear, obsessive or compulsive behaviors, panic attacks, detachment, depression, lack of emotion, shame, shock, disbelief, guilt, anger, and anxiety. 

They often say that trauma has no boundaries – it can affect anyone, no matter your race, gender, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. If not properly treated in a timely manner, trauma can negatively affect an individual’s ability to live a normal lifestyle. 

What Causes Addiction?

When an individual consumes alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or any other harmful substance, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine. This chemical is responsible for that euphoric feeling we get when we drink or smoke; unfortunately, this dopamine rush is addictive. 

As you continue to ingest the drug or alcohol, the body grows more attached to the rush of dopamine. With excess use, the body grows more dependent on the drug, but our tolerance to the drug increases – which causes us to use it even more. This is where addiction begins. 

At this point, quitting the drug/alcohol seems impossible, even for those that know they need to or have a desire to. When they finally quit, they experience withdrawal symptoms, which often results in relapse. This is why most addicts need a structured environment during recovery. 

The good news is that there is a wide range of treatment options available today, and while recovery might seem impossible, it isn’t. With the proper support, you can attain sobriety. 

What is the Relationship Between Substance Use and Trauma?

Researchers have long believed there’s a strong relationship between addiction and trauma, and recent studies are proving those researchers right. Over the past 30 years, they’ve offered several hypotheses that help detail why this relationship exists and why it has grown so strong. 

Let’s take a closer look: 

  • The Self-Medication Hypothesis – those who experience trauma use alcohol, drugs, and other harmful substances to provide relief and cope with symptoms. 
  • The High-Risk Hypothesis – since substance abuse changes a person’s ability to make good decisions, they’re often at an increased risk of experiencing trauma.
  • The Susceptibility Hypothesis – those that use substances are much more susceptible to developing PTSD and other serious consequences of a traumatic event.

While some people might use harmful substances to help cope with a traumatic event – often leading to dependency and addiction – others might be forced into a traumatic experience as a result of their substance use—the two act as both a cause and a symptom of one another.

How to Find Dual Diagnosis Trauma Treatment in Davie, FL

Are you using harmful substances to help cope with trauma in your life? Has substance abuse resulted in a traumatic experience that’s negatively affecting your life? Are you searching for quality and reliable treatment for addiction and trauma? If so, then you’ve come to the right place.

At Atlantic Recovery Center, we are proud to offer a wide range of recovery services tailored toward each individual patient. Whether you’re suffering from substance abuse, trauma, or both, we’ll develop a customized treatment plan designed to enhance the recovery process. 
Contact us today to learn more about our South Florida rehab facility, as well as our services – which include residential treatment, extended programs, dual diagnosis, aftercare, and alumni programs.

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