Childhood Trauma in the Grown-up World

Jun 8, 2020

Trauma following us from childhood into adulthood can be an underlying factor for addiction without you even knowing it’s been influencing your choices for years. You may have tried to forget those traumatic experiences or assumed time and distance between you and them has weakened their power over you. For someone living with substance abuse with memories of childhood trauma, let’s talk about some of the ways it’s been an active part of your daily existence for decades and how to respond to it now. 

Women who suffered extended trauma during childhood or experienced one traumatic incident may be affected by it decades later during adulthood in the form of mental health issues and substance use disorders. Trauma survivors with an addiction may have attempted to sustain recovery multiple times and yet have been unsuccessful. Programs offering a dual diagnosis addiction treatment for women relapsing as well as trauma therapies can offer an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to treating substance use disorders, mental health disorders, and the effects of childhood trauma.

Living with trauma looks different to different people.

The trauma experienced during childhood can come from a variety of sources, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, a significant loss, and more. You may have received treatment after a trauma incident during childhood for a period of time or not received treatment at all. Depending on your age, the nature of the trauma, and the developmental changes to your brain, the effects of trauma can be potentially more severe.

Living with trauma affects relationships and connections.

During your developmental years, you’re in the midst of forming your identity and the disruption of that development by traumatic experiences can affect how you process what you’re experiencing emotionally and how you perceive your own existence. For anyone operating in survival mode after or during extended trauma, disconnecting from the experience can be a way of coping with it and they may begin and sustain destructive relationships with people who perpetuate the trauma. A response to these harmful relationships may be to choose isolation over intimacy with the loss of both personal growth and meaningful connections of support.

Living with trauma can lead to substance use disorders.

The effects of childhood trauma on the brain can be seen through the consequences many survivors of trauma experience later in life. Eating disorders and depression are among the conditions and the risk of developing a substance use disorder is another potential outcome. Some trauma survivors may begin alcohol and drug use at an early age and maintain a lifestyle of abusing substances through adolescence into adulthood. Addiction to one or more substances can develop over time and further harm a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

Addressing trauma requires help and support.

You may be already aware of trauma as a factor in your addiction, but addressing it shouldn’t be a step taken alone. With a decades-long impact on your health and your relationships, trauma requires steps to help you change a traumatic identity and end self-destructive choices. Therapeutic efforts provided by experienced professionals can help you recover from trauma and move forward in life.

Addressing addiction and trauma together requires specialized help.

Over time, trauma and addiction can feel like they become dependent on each other. Treating one without treating the other may be responsible, in part, for the relapses following attempts at recovery. A program offering treatment for substance abuse that’s integrated with trauma therapies as well as addressing other underlying mental health disorders, including PTSD and depression, can be more effective in helping guide a trauma survivor with addiction through recovery.

Addressing addiction and trauma can be done as a gender-specific treatment.

Dual diagnosis addiction treatment with trauma therapies is available with services provided exclusively by women. In these settings, women can work on recovery with support of addiction professionals who are experienced in other related issues common specifically to women, including body image, self-harm, and sexual and physical trauma. During treatment, women also can learn how to create safe and productive connections with peers as part of their long-term recovery goals.

Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.

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