Why Are Trauma and Substance Abuse Often Linked?

Many of those who struggle with substance abuse and addiction have experienced trauma in their lives. There is often a connection between trauma and substance abuse, and this connection can be key to understanding the root cause of an individual’s addiction and how to treat it. Approaches like a trauma therapy program, exercise therapy, and even group therapy can be useful tools on the road to recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, reach out to Tree House Recovery today. Our holistic approach to treatment involves care for the body, mind, and spirit. Those in our programs who have been through traumatic experiences in the past can find a safe, supportive environment to work through those experiences and work toward lasting recovery. Contact us at 910.812.1728 or reach out online to learn more.

What Is Trauma? 

Trauma is an emotional response to a deeply distressing or life-threatening event. It has been known to cause physical, psychological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems that can last for years after the traumatic experience occurred. People who have experienced trauma may feel isolated from society or struggle with trust issues. They may also act out in ways that put themselves or others at risk or turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for their pain and suffering. 

Events that can be considered traumatic include:

  • Natural disasters
  • Abuse that is sexual, physical, or emotional in nature
  • War or combat
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Violent crime or assault
  • Serious accidents

Living through a traumatic experience does not mean that a person will automatically develop a substance use disorder. However, the trauma can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, fear, and guilt, all of which can contribute to substance use issues.

How Are Trauma and Substance Abuse Connected? 

The link between trauma and addiction is undeniable. More than half of all individuals who seek treatment for addiction have experienced some form of trauma in their lives, often directly related to their drug use, such as assault or sexual abuse while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This type of traumatic experience can lead to dysfunctional behaviors such as self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to numb the pain associated with the trauma, increasing the risk of continued drug use and addiction over time. 

How Treatment for Addiction and Trauma Can Help 

Trauma-informed addiction treatment is an important tool for those struggling with both substance abuse and trauma. It involves understanding the connection between trauma and addiction as well as providing therapies that are specifically tailored to help individuals process their traumatic experiences. Treatment approaches can include individual or group therapy, exercise therapy, mindfulness practices such as yoga or meditation, and other holistic modalities designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit. By addressing both the substance use disorder and underlying trauma simultaneously, those in treatment can begin to break free from the cycle of addiction and find lasting recovery.

Treatment will focus on building healthy coping skills and strategies to support recovery, such as:

  • Developing a strong support system
  • Practicing positive self-talk and reframing negative thoughts
  • Learning stress management techniques
  • Engaging in activities that bring joy
  • Exercising and eating healthy
  • Working on social skills
  • Telling your story

Every step of the way, your treatment team will be there to cheer on your progress and provide guidance.

Reach Out to Tree House Recovery Today

The Tree House Recovery approach to addiction and trauma treatment is unique. We place an emphasis on community and healthy habits, and exercise therapy is a foundational part of our treatment plans. You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from treatment in our center—we can tailor a program that meets your needs and helps you work through the trauma at your own pace. Reach out to us today at 910.812.1728 or connect with us online today to learn more.

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