May people with substance abuse disorders have experienced abuse or trauma in their lives before struggling with alcohol or drugs. (Abuse in this context means physical, emotional and sexual abuse.) Trauma can be derived from both abuse and other events, such as being robbed at gunpoint, witnessing violence, or experiencing other life-changing events such as natural disasters.
Trauma is a common theme for many people who also seek out drug and alcohol treatment. Post-traumatic stress disorder, frequently seen in people who have survived trauma, is also a contributor to any substance abuse disorder.
Doctors often describe PTSD as a “normal response” to an “abnormal situation.” Surviving trauma is a big deal – no matter how much you try to minimize it or medicate it. You’ve been through an experience that took a toll on mental, physical and spiritual aspects of life. No one can control exactly how they respond to painful and life-changing events, and so many people end up with PTSD as the body decides to help you cope. PTSD and substance abuse often go hand in hand. If you have PTSD, you may be medicating symptoms such as anxiety and panic attacks, anger, and depression with drugs or alcohol.
Substance abuse is also a “normal” response to trauma, but it’s not a healthy one. There are better ways to cope with your disease, and substance abuse opens the door to more pain and trauma.
Getting Help for Trauma and Substance Abuse
Using is a way to alleviate painful feelings and numb you temporarily, but it’s not going to serve any purpose if you want to heal. Healing from addiction, as well as trauma is possible when you learn the right tools.
A therapist or group of peers can help you accept the past and learn to cope with the present. You can learn to live without the use of substances.
If you’ve experienced trauma, you’re not alone. Many people who have walked the path to recovery have learned to cope with traumatic experiences as well as PTSD without the use of substances. Over time in recovery, you will discover your own story and be able to share it with others if you choose to do so. Please give us a call at (877) 228-2401 to learn more about how we can help you overcome your dependence on alcohol or drugs and take your life back into your own hands.