Does Trauma Lead to Substance Abuse?

People can suffer damaging trauma to their psyche (known as psychological trauma) at any age, for any number of reasons. Often, people live through a seriously stressful event or situation that allowed for more stress than that individual was able to cope with. Because coping skills and mechanisms vary widely from person to person and depend on various factors, trauma is highly subjective. 

For those people who already have unhealthy coping mechanisms or who simply don't have the coping mechanisms needed for dealing with their personal trauma, substance abuse can be the coping mechanism they turn to. It isn't to say that everyone who experiences trauma will turn to substance abuse, but sometimes the interaction between biological and environmental factors can lead an individual down that road. Various substances, whether drugs or alcohol, can help the user feel numb to the pain or stress they are experiencing and otherwise unable to cope with, users can feel calm, less stress, or even empowered. 

For those who have extreme anxiety associated with their trauma, they may turn to benzodiazepines to help calm their nerves, for those who want to feel relaxed when they believe they otherwise are unable to, they may turn to marijuana use. Whatever ill feelings a person's trauma has left them with, they may find that using substances can give them relief. Unfortunately, relief may not be long-lasting, or may require repeated use or even a gradual increase in usage to get the same relief, which ultimately leads to substance abuse, dependence, and addiction. 

Fortunately, for those suffering with the dual diagnosis of substance abuse and psychological trauma, relief can be found with the right treatment facility and program designed to meet and address both diagnosis of each patient. If you need help with trauma and addiction, you’re not alone, don't be afraid to reach out and get the help you need, you deserve it. 

NA. "Psychological Trauma and Drug Addiction". Dual Diagnosis. (Website). 2017
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