When a person experiences trauma at any age, he or she might turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Some trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and put a person at risk of developing a drug or alcohol addiction. Traumatic events can bring back painful memories or flashbacks so people with childhood trauma often turn to drugs or alcohol to escape reality.
Abuse in any form is traumatic for a child. Sexual, physical, emotional, and mental abuses are very traumatic and can impair a child’s development. Fear, bad memories, and safety are some reasons why childhood trauma victims turn to drugs or alcohol.
For a teenager with childhood trauma, the risk of developing an addiction is increased. Teens often engage in risky, impulsive, or dangerous behavior and teens are easily influenced by peer pressure to try addictive substances. A teen with a traumatic history is likely to use drugs or alcohol to relieve painful memories of his or her childhood abuse or trauma.
Here are 6 reasons why childhood trauma can lead to drugs and alcohol:
- Escaping memories. People with childhood trauma abuse drugs and alcohol to escape the memories of their trauma and suppress any thoughts that lead to reminiscing about the event.
- Feeling good. Drugs and alcohol change the brain’s function and cause the neurotransmitters to release high levels of dopamine. The dopamine gives the person a temporary pleasurable effect.
- Seeking safety. People who experience childhood trauma can feel safe when they abuse drugs or alcohol because their moods, emotions, and feelings change. They can feel safe now as opposed to the vulnerable child they once were.
- Control. A person who goes through childhood trauma can feel like they are in control when they use drugs or alcohol. The temporary shift in attitude allows the person to freely express his or herself and be in control of what they do.
- Stress relief. Sometimes people with childhood trauma turn to drugs or alcohol to relieve stress and anxiety. Substance abuse can actually contribute to more stress and anxiety.
- Develop social relationships. Childhood trauma might have affected the person’s social relationships as a child. Using drugs or alcohol can make a person feel more social.
Seek medical treatment if you have PTSD or experienced childhood trauma and are using drugs or alcohol to cope. Mental health and addiction are treatable and recovery is possible.
Enlightened Solutions offers a clinical, holistic and 12-step approach to the road to recovery. If you’re struggling with addiction and/or mental illness, our program is specialized in dual-diagnosis treatments. Don’t hesitate and call today: 844-234-LIVE.