What happens to us as children often shapes our personalities as adults. When those influences are negative, they can have outsized impacts on our actions, including turning to substance abuse. Researchers have long been curious about the links between childhood trauma and addiction. It does seem that many individuals who survived chaos during their childhood end up requiring trauma therapy treatment for mental health and substance abuse. Having both at the same time is called a co-occurring disorder.
If certain situations feel unbearable to you but manageable to everyone else, this could result from childhood trauma. A person with unresolved trauma may react inappropriately to situations that bring about emotions similar to the emotions they experienced during a traumatic event or series of events.
The Impacts of Childhood Trauma
The toll taken by childhood trauma comes in many forms. You may find yourself living in a household where there is constant turmoil and arguing. The environment may even be dangerous because of the threat presented by adults living in the home. Children may end up suffering abuse from the very people who should be looking out for them.
Sometimes childhood trauma occurs in one fell swoop. People may have happy childhoods up until a specific event. It could be the death of a parent or an accident that leaves you scarred for life. You may live through a natural disaster or survive a fire that kills others.
Below is a rundown of the kind of events that can leave their mark on us in childhood:
- Something that happens unexpectedly and leaves permanent change in your life
- Something that goes on for an extended period
- Having someone deliberately inflict harm
The trauma doesn’t have to impact you directly. You may witness a violent act committed by someone else. Many children carry the scars of watching one parent inflict domestic abuse on the other, even if that anger never gets turned toward the child.
The Connection Between Childhood Trauma and Addiction
Sometimes it’s easier for us to suppress traumatic memories from childhood. Even if we don’t let ourselves remember what happened, we can still feel the emotional fallout in our psyche. You may find yourself turning to drugs or alcohol to help you cope with the feelings that may come up because of your childhood trauma.
Failing to deal with your issues can lead to physical problems like a heart condition, stroke, or obesity. You may find yourself overreacting to certain situations. Risky behavior may become an outlet for you to manage your emotions. People often drink heavily or turn to harder drugs to deal with painful reemerging memories from childhood.
Substance abuse and a failure to deal with your emotional issues can lead to the development of addiction and mental health problems. You may require mental health and substance abuse treatment at a facility capable of helping people with co-occurring disorders.
Getting Help for Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Greater Boston Addiction Centers offers addiction rehab programs to help people deal with childhood trauma that may be at the root of their addiction. We understand that you have to deal with physical addiction and any resulting mental health issues to truly help a client heal.
Clients who recognize the connection between their childhood trauma and addiction issues often benefit from PTSD therapy. The counseling sessions represent a safe space for individuals to work through painful memories resulting from childhood trauma.
Recognizing the impacts of childhood trauma on your behavior as an adult can help you make the adjustments needed to live a life free of addiction. You also learn healthier ways of managing your emotions outside of substance abuse.
Greater Boston Addiction Centers aids people dealing with:
- Benzo addiction
- Marijuana addiction
- Polysubstance addiction
- Fentanyl addiction