TRAUMA AND ADDICTION

Many believe there is a strong relationship between trauma and substance use disorders. People who have experienced a traumatic life event such as child abuse, domestic violence, or war develop substance use disorders as a result of using substances to self-medicate against the psychological effects of trauma.


The occurrence of substance abuse then leads to new traumatic experience, creating a vicious cycle of coping behaviours. Missing the fact that all people are born innately well, and respond get lost in their response to the experiences of life.

According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, up to 80% of Vietnam veterans in need of PTSD treatment have alcohol use disorders. Women who have been exposed to traumatic events show an increased risk of alcohol use disorder, and men and women who reported sexual abuse have higher rates of drug and alcohol use disorders than men and women who have had such experiences.

In a study of 587 participants who had experienced a traumatic life event, it was found that there were ‘high rates of lifetime dependence’ on a variety of substances. Alcohol - 39%, Cocaine - 34.1%, Opiates - 6.2%, and Marijuana - 44.8%. The level of substance use, particularly cocaine, strongly correlated with levels of childhood physical, sexual, and emotional abuse as well as current PTSD symptoms.

For those suffering from Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) - which occurs in the short term after a traumatic event and include; dissociation, intrusive thoughts, and anxiety - and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - which are more long term and include the same effects - the use of substances can provide the user with some temporary relief and distraction from the trauma. Intrusive thoughts, traumatic memories, physical flashbacks to the event, and a distorted sense of self and sense of relationship to others are temporarily pushed away or numbed by the drugs, but the effect is just that - temporary. When a person uses a substance to cope with difficult emotions, and those emotions arise again later, they will likely turn again to the substance. This creates a substance dependency, which causes much harm to the individual. Dependency can lead to addiction, a chronic and progressive disorder that can be fatal.

Treatment
Those suffering from a combination of psychological trauma and substance use disorder would benefit from rehab and treatment that targets both issues. An understanding of how the mind really works, what is beyond everyone’s psychology, seeing the principles of thought in action is key to recovery from this dual diagnosis condition.

UK based psychotherapist Jason Shiers explains that ‘those who are addicted and hopeful for recovery would benefit from understanding this key factor in the creation of PTSD and addiction, as an illusion of the mind.’ Not taking away the experience or its power, but seeing through and beyond what is traditionally understood. 




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