It should come as no surprise that there’s a close relationship between addiction and trauma. Of course, that by no means is to say that one necessitates or causes the other, but it is quite common that trauma and mental health issues accompany substance abuse.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that there are 3 pathways that contribute to the coexistence of these two things:
- Common risk factors can contribute to both mental illness and substance use and addiction.
- Mental illness may contribute to substance use and addiction.
- Substance use and addiction can contribute to the development of mental illness.
Are Addiction and Trauma Related?
The short answer is that yes, they very much are related and it’s notable that north of 25% of adults with serious mental issues also have a substance abuse problem.
In fact, a report by the National Trauma Consortium found that “the prevalence of physical and sexual abuse among women in substance abuse treatment programs is estimated to range from 30 percent to more than 90 percent, depending on the definition of abuse and the specific target population”.
Truly astonishing statistics and it goes without saying this sort of comorbidity is not limited to women. Men, as well, frequently have trauma-related addiction problems.
The spectrum of trauma is vast and each individual is equipped to cope with it differently. What may be nothing for someone could be another person’s worst case scenario. While adults, by nature of having lived longer and experienced more in life, are generally better able to deal with a traumatic event, the trauma that we experience as children can, and often does, have ripple effects that can extend well into adulthood.
Research has consistently shown a link between childhood trauma, substance use and PTSD, with one study explicitly stating that it “confirms previous findings of a strong relationship between adverse childhood experience and subsequent substance use and poor mental health outcomes, particularly PTSD. In all subjects, physical abuse correlated with the use of all substances examined…”
Taking it back to the top and those 3 pathways, you can see how a traumatic experience, either in childhood or as an adult, could lead to substance use as a coping mechanism.
On the flip side, one of the effects of long term substance abuse is the fundamental rewiring and changing of the brain over time which can lead to the development of mental health issues like paranoia, depression, anxiety and more.
The formal term for when both are present, a mental disorder and a drug and/or alcohol problem, is dual diagnosis.
Why You Should Seek Professional Addiction and Trauma Treatment
Given that they so frequently go hand in hand, it would make sense for addiction and trauma treatment to be taken together as well. Fortunately, there are facilities that do just that.
Seeking treatment for both, at the same time, is the most holistic and penetrating method of treatment. Why? Because it tackles both issues and their interplay. How one informs the other.
Fact is, if you detox the body but don’t dig deep enough to uncover the real, root cause of your substance abuse and addiction, the chance of relapse remains high because the actual problem technically hasn’t been solved. The new coping mechanism you develop in rehab for triggers may not work in the long run because there was no internal resolution to the trauma you experienced.
Inneractions Is Here to Treat Your Trauma and Addiction
At Inneractions, that idea of treating the whole person directly informs our philosophy. We understand the interlinkage between trauma and addiction because we’ve seen it firsthand and have successfully helped so many people to the other side of both.
If you or a loved one have co-occurring trauma and addiction or just have questions, get in touch with us.