Trauma and Addiction: A Common Link

There is a significant correlation between trauma and addiction. Addiction can occur because of trauma and other mental health disorders related to trauma. In turn, those that suffer from a substance use disorder are at a higher rate of experiencing traumatic events due to engaging in high-risk behavior. Understanding how trauma increases the rate of addiction, and how unresolved trauma can negatively impact an individual’s ability to stay sober is essential to helping those on the road to recovery stay sober and prevent relapse. 

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as: any event or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as life-threatening or emotionally or physically harmful. It is important to understand that trauma is relative to the individual. What is traumatic for one person, may not be for another. Trauma can occur at any time in a person’s life. Trauma has lasting effects that affect an individual’s ability to function emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually. There is a wide array of events that could be considered traumatic including but not limited to: grief and loss, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, or a natural disaster. Long term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. It is likely that many of us have experienced a traumatic event in our lives at one point or another.

Childhood Trauma and Addiction

Evidence has shown that the correlation between trauma and addiction is particularly high for adolescents struggling with PTSD. One in 4 children in the U.S experience a traumatic event before the age of 16. Studies show up to 59% of youth with PTSD, end up abusing substances. The prominent effect trauma has on a child’s adulthood can be explained by noticing that children have a lower tolerance to handling stressful situations than adults do. Children also rely on their caregivers as a source of support during hard times. If caregivers in the home are unavailable or are the source of the child experiencing neglect, abuse, or other traumatic event, family support is not an option. This leaves the child feeling hopeless and alone, eventually leading them to reach out for substances to self -medicate and alleviate the effects of being victimized at a young age. Not having the tools and resources to process traumatic events can leave people trying to handle symptoms with unhealthy behaviors. 

Women and Trauma

Research indicates that women are twice and likely to develop PTSD, experience a longer duration of symptomatology, and are more sensitive to stimuli that remind them of the trauma they have experienced. Despite the understanding that women are at a greater risk of negative consequences due to trauma, many women struggle to seek help and support. Many women feel fear and a negative stigma about asking for help and processing the events that have happened in the past. Women are at a higher rate that men of experiencing sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape. It is important to know that it is ok to ask for help. No matter what you have been through, you don’t have to go through it alone. A woman need never feel ashamed of the painful experiences she has been forced to walk through. There is help and healing available to you. 

What Can We Do?

With two thirds of all individuals struggling with a substance use disorder, having experienced some type of traumatic event in their life, it is important to understand that childhood trauma increases risk to substance use in the future. Knowing this you may be able to take preventative measures to help an adolescent in your life take a different path. Seeking counseling services and support groups for individuals having experienced trauma will provide a safe space for both boys and girls to process their experiences in a healthy, supportive and non-judgmental setting.

In regard to addiction treatment, choosing a gender specific program that offers dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders such as PTSD, is a great first step to starting the healing process. Other therapies and modalities that are known to help heal wounds from traumatic experiences include, EMDR therapy, cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy, and trauma informed process groups. 

We’re Here to Help

It is never too late to start the journey of recovery. There is support and services available to you. Anchored Tides Recovery wants to let you know that you no longer have to suffer in silence. Call our admissions line today to speak with a treatment admissions counselor to find the best options for you or your loved one. 

7 Things You Can Do for Your Recovery Every Day

Admitting you have a problem with addiction and seeking help are the first steps to obtaining sobriety and building a new foundation for a successful future. Regardless of what substances an individual might struggle with – addiction is a disease. And just like any other chronic illness, addiction must be treated on a regular basis. The disease of addiction can impact an individual on a biological, physiological, spiritual, and social level. Oftentimes the negative impacts of addiction affect one’s physical health, mental health, interpersonal relationships, occupational abilities, academic success, and domestic functioning. Even after an individual has completed a substance abuse program, relapse can happen. It is important to know what tools, skills, and resources you can utilize to maintain long term sobriety. Below are seven things you can incorporate into your daily routine to contribute to a healthy lifestyle of recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. 

Attend a 12 Step Meeting

Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as AA, is an international organization of peer support groups comprised of people who have struggled with alcohol and substance abuse and are working on maintaining sobriety. AA is non-professional, self-supporting, multi-racial and apolitical. There are no age or education requirements. 12 step meetings are open to any individual who is in recovery. 12 step meetings are a safe place for those in recovery to discuss their issues and concerns related to their addictions and receive support through their triumphs and difficulties. 12 step meetings are a great place to confide in like-minded individuals and build community. In active addiction many people become isolated from their friends, families, and communities; often feeling ostracized and misunderstood. 12 step meetings are a great way for an individual to seek free support while participating in normal, every-day activities such as work and family life. AA meetings are available almost everywhere and in countries around the world. 12 step meetings are held at many different times of day and every day of the week. They can be accessed virtually as well. 

Reach out to Others

When in recovery from an alcohol or substance abuse disorder, it is important to know that you are not alone. While addiction treatment programs are temporary, the support you have in continuing on with your recovery is not. Reaching out to friends, loved ones, fellow members in recovery, trusted spiritual leaders, or professionals is important to maintaining good mental health and spirituality. Combating old habits of isolation is important to avoiding relapse. By finding others, you can be honest and share your feelings on a regular basis. Connection builds self esteem and brings purpose into our lives. Knowing you are cared for and are an important part of other people’s lives is essential, and something everyone deserves. Whether it’s taking the time to go for a walk with a friend, or making a phone call to someone you trust, staying connected to others will help you stay sober.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Seeking spirituality can be an effective way of centering one’s self and alleviating stress. The practice of mindfulness is defined as bringing one’s complete attention to the experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment. A similar practice is meditation, which can be thought of as any practice that self regulates the body and mind. These practices can take shape in different forms such as: deep breathing, practicing yoga, taking a walk in nature, or simply slowing down and focusing your thoughts only on what is in the present. Those that are able to incorporate meditative practices in their daily lives are known to be able to monitor the emotions of themselves and others in an effective way. This also helps to guide the individuals thinking and actions, resulting in higher emotional intelligence. Mindfulness and meditation can improve self-efficacy and improve the individual’s health, optimism, and confidence in dealing with life events and stressors. These practices are known to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, leading to a higher chance of long-term recovery. 

Journaling

Taking the time to journal regularly can be so helpful in your recovery. Being able to put pen to paper and write your thoughts down can be an effective way to manage stress and self- regulate. Journaling is something you can do anywhere. Throughout your day taking time to jot down any overwhelming thoughts, emotions, fears, or looming tasks can help you stay present and continue to keep moving forward. Journaling is a great way to self-reflect and take time to set and achieve goals. Taking the time to be introspective and address your needs and intentions is essential in continuing on the path of recovery. Journaling can also be an outlet for creativity and to have fun. 

Read a Spiritual or Inspirational Book

Even when living as our best selves, the day to day can become mundane and boring. It is important to stay motivated in your recovery. Setting aside time to read a few pages of a spiritual or inspirational reading can help you achieve a positive mindset and assist you in your willingness to keep moving forward. Keeping a daily reflections book by your bedside, or setting a timer for 10 minutes in the evening to read a book of your choice is a great way to incorporate the active recovery lifestyle. If you are having trouble finding something great to read here are the top 5 suggestions from our staff at Anchored Tides Recovery:

  • Keep it Simple by Hazelden Meditations
  • Mindful Recovery: A spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction by Bien Thomas
  • Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle
  • As Bill Sees It by Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Each Day A New Beginning by Karen Casey

Find Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful emotion that we can feel in our physical bodies. It can bring a sensation of warmth, grounding, calmness, or a smile. As an individual on the road to recovery, it is important to remember that it is a success to be sober and all the good that comes from being free from the bondage of alcohol and substance abuse. Acknowledging the things you are grateful to have in your life is an active way to stay in recovery. Being grateful can change your mindset and keep you inspired to continue to achieve more. Being able to take a moment to write a list of the things that are good in your life on a regular basis is a great tool to stay on the path of recovery.

Acts of Service

Once you have made the choice to stay abstinent from drugs and alcohol, you are able to find freedom. Your livelihood returns, and you are able to become a successful and functioning member of society once again. Acknowledging your strengths and utilizing them to assist others is a great way to stay active in your recovery. Despite the hardship you may have endured, you have so much to offer your community, friends, and loved ones. Scheduling time to be helpful to someone you know, or an organization in your community is a great way to build self-esteem and bring good into the world. As an individual in recovery you must remember you are strong and worthy. Taking time to give back to others can relieve your own stress and depression while promoting balance for a healthy sober lifestyle. 

We Can Help You!

Anchored Tides Recovery is a women owned addiction treatment center for women. We offer partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment options for women struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Reach out to us today to learn more about our services & how we can help you!