Most individuals have had something traumatic happen to them or have witnessed a traumatic event at some point throughout their lives; this can include anything from bullying, medical trauma, physical abuse, natural disasters, mass shootings, and many more. There are several risk factors for developing substance use disorder, but is trauma one of them? Read on to find out. 

What is Trauma?

Trauma is defined as an emotional response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions. A traumatized individual can feel a wide range of emotions, including feeling overwhelmed, shocked, and physical symptoms; this can happen immediately after the event and also in the long term. 

Let’s look at some of the different types of trauma: 

  1. Complex Trauma results from exposure to multiple traumatic events.
  2. Chronic Trauma results from repeated and prolonged exposure to highly stressful events, such as domestic violence, bullying, or child abuse. 
  3. Acute Trauma results from a single stressful or dangerous event.

Symptoms of trauma can range from mild to severe and can affect the individual psychologically and physically. A person who has experienced trauma may feel some of the following: 

  • Anger
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Sweating Excessively
  • Numbness
  • Digestive Symptoms
  • Fear
  • Racing Heart
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Hyperarousal (constant state of alertness)

Is There a Relationship Between Trauma and Substance Abuse?

Sometimes individuals who have been affected by trauma will develop coping mechanisms to help them deal with any emotional or physical pain that they still feel. However, sometimes the coping mechanisms can involve maladaptive behaviors, including tobacco use, drug use, or alcohol use. Research has shown that traumatic stress may make it even more different for individuals to stop using. Many turn to alcohol or drugs to manage the flood of emotions and traumatic reminders or to even just numb themselves. While these substances provide temporary relief to the individual, the effects of it wearing off can have detrimental effects, such as extremely low moods. Typically, a person will need to use again in order to feel the positive, mind altering effects again. This is where the cycle of addiction begins. 

The Facts Surrounding Trauma and Substance Use Disorders

Previous studies have shown just how much of an effect trauma can have on an individual’s health. Keep reading to learn about some of the statistics surrounding trauma and substance use:

  • Women who have experienced trauma show an increased risk for alcohol use disorder.
  • Both men and women who have experienced sexual abuse have a much higher rate of alcohol and other substance use disorders. 
  • Individuals who have experienced traumatic experiences during their lifetime are twice as likely to smoke, 7 times as likely to consider themselves an alcoholic, and 10 times as likely to have used street drugs. 
  • Approximately 59% of young people who suffer from PTSD develop substance abuse problems. 

Other Risk Factors for Substance Use Disorders

While trauma is a major risk factor for substance use disorders, it is important to also be aware of other risk factors that could potentially lead to substance use disorders. Other risk factors include biological and environmental factors. 

Studies have found that individuals who have certain genes may be more apt to struggle with substance use. Other risk factors include a family history of substance abuse, mental health disorder, early exposure to the drug, peer pressure, and many more. Taking a highly addictive drug, such as opioids or cocaine, can also result in a much faster development of substance abuse. 

Addiction Recovery at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers

Here at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers, our team understands that recovery is unique to each individual and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that works best for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorders, treatment professionals are standing by to help with a variety of treatment options. Call or visit Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers Today!