Relationship Between Trauma & Addiction

Addiction is a disease with several risk factors – genetics, environment, personal behavior, and experience. The relationship between trauma and addiction is complicated and closely intertwined. In other words, the road between the two goes both ways, and the negative consequences of one disorder can worsen the problems of the other. We will explain everything about the relationship between trauma and addiction to help you or someone you may know overcome it.

trauma and addiction

What is Trauma?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) describes trauma as any event or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as life-threatening or emotionally or physically harmful. This trauma has lasting effects on an individual’s ability to function socially, mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally. In psychological terms, trauma is a situation or an event that a person simply cannot cope with. It can leave the person in an extreme state of fear, making them overwhelmingly afraid of imminent death, destruction, or actual physical or mental harm.

What Causes Trauma?

Trauma is a very personal experience that depends upon the individual. It can be a response to a single, one-time occurrence, or it can be developed over time because of a repeated situation. Some of the causes of trauma might include:

  • child abuse
  • neglect
  • violence
  • bullying
  • accidents
  • violent crimes
  • natural disasters
  • domestic assault
  • extreme deprivation
  • sexual assault

What is important to note is that a person who suffers from exposure to trauma doesn’t necessarily need to be the victim – witnessing any of these occurrences can be sufficiently harmful.

A person who has suffered trauma first-hand will experience an entire list of negative emotions, and if the trauma and the feelings associated with it are not resolved, serious long-term issues can develop. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) disrupts the lives of people who have experienced unresolved trauma by negatively impacting their relationships, emotions, physical body, thinking, and behavior. PTSD sufferers may experience sleep disturbances, nightmares, anxiety.

At Garden State Treatment Center, we help men and women affected by trauma that are struggling with substance abuse.