Psychological trauma is a factor that must be strongly considered in any person who is undergoing addiction recovery.

Trauma is often found to be the root cause of someone’s addictions and therefore, the trauma itself should be addressed along with the actual addiction.

Trauma and how it impacts addiction and recovery

What is trauma?

Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. In other words, trauma takes place when someone experiences something that exceeds their ability to cope, leaving behind some form of wound, whether it be physical, emotional or psychological.

What’s extremely important to remember is that trauma is completely subjective. This means that two people may have the same experience but are affected on different levels.

Furthermore, although adults are vulnerable to trauma, they are generally less so than children. Generally speaking, children have less ability to cope with traumatic events and are therefore more deeply affected in the long run.

However, there are different types of trauma which one can experience. Some trauma is on-going and therefore will have a more permanent effect on the victim than a once off event.

Types of trauma

  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual assault or abuse
  • Car or other types of accidents
  • Child abuse
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Crime
  • Natural disasters
  • War

Additionally, witnessing these events can be as traumatic as actually being the victim. Therefore, understanding a person’s history is crucial when dealing with psychological trauma and addiction recovery.

The connection between trauma and addiction

Psychological trauma and addiction have an extremely close relationship. More often than not, someone who turns to substance abuse is trying to numb some feelings associated with their trauma.

People who are suffering from trauma may experience symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Disconnection
  • Guilt
  • Fear or paranoia
  • Depression
  • Anger or irritability

Therefore, it’s easy to see how someone will look for a way to escape from these feelings. Alcohol may bring temporary relief to sadness or anxiety while tranquilizers can help with feelings of fear and paranoia.

Furthermore, addiction doesn’t always follow trauma. In fact, people who are prone to substance abuse expose themselves to experiencing trauma such as car accidents or other violent situations.

People who are under the influence are more likely to partake in risky behaviour, thereby increasing their chances of experiencing something traumatic.

Psychological trauma and addiction recovery

Psychological trauma and addiction are considered a dual-diagnosis and must be treated accordingly. The most effective treatment method is one that is designed according to the person’s individual circumstances, while treating both the addiction and the trauma concurrently.

Step Away Rehabilitation Centre South Africa

At Step Away we understand the importance of treating psychological trauma as an integral part of the addiction recovery process.

Contact us for more information.