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Childhood Trauma And Addiction Statistics

Dual Diagnosis: Ptsd And Addiction

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Addiction

If you have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, as well as an addiction to drugs or alcohol, this is known as dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. While PTSD isnt limited to individuals with a history of military service, anywhere from 35%-75% of veterans with the condition are known to abuse drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with their experiences. Individuals with PTSD may use drugs or alcohol to manage their symptoms or handle their triggers, which may include:

  • Hypersensitivity, especially when loud noises or sudden movements are involved.
  • Social withdrawal.

Depending on the symptom, the patient may decide to try and cure themselves through drug and alcohol abuse. This method doesnt work and, eventually, theyll develop a tolerance to their drug of choice, often leaving them worse off than they were before. This cycle facilitates the link between trauma and addiction.

Anyone who has a mental health condition and a substance use disorder has a dual-diagnosis this includes those with severe anxiety, depression or schizophrenia. To treat a dual diagnosis PTSD, a treatment facility must be able to address both the addictive cycle and the underlying trauma that caused the addiction, which could include an analysis of all trauma-related triggers.

While treating these two things simultaneously is essential in the case of a dual diagnosis, getting to the underlying trauma or triggers will be nearly impossible while youre under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Treating Addiction And Childhood Trauma

Trauma-informed care is necessary for people struggling with addiction and PTSD. Both trauma and substance abuse must be addressed simultaneously to prevent a relapse in symptoms. While treating this co-occurrence can be difficult, recovery is possible and likely with the proper resources.

When attending treatment for addiction stemming from childhood trauma, patients should remember the following:

  • They are not alone. Many survivors feel guilt and shame and are afraid to talk about their trauma. Individuals who do not talk about their trauma will not be able to fully recover. However, other patients in treatment have also experienced trauma, and individuals are in a safe space.
  • Childhood trauma is not the victims fault. Utilizing professional help and talking to others who have gone through similar events will help patients succeed.
  • Everyone deserves a life free from pain and substance dependency. Treatment will help to ease the damage of childhood trauma and alleviate any feelings of pain with the help of experienced professionals.
  • Rehab is a safe space. Treatment is a place of no judgment, understanding, and support. Professionals have evidence-based methods of treatment to help their patients let go of their feelings of fear, guilt, or shame.

If you or a loved one suffer from addiction that stems from childhood trauma, contact Carolina Recovery Center today. Our trauma & PTSD program can help.


Trauma Treatment Is Not Accessible And This Needs To Change

Although we know how commonly PTSD and addiction co-occur, standard addiction treatment approaches do not integrate care for both problems. Psychological treatments for trauma can be challenging to access across Australia, often with substantial out-of-pocket costs and long waits. We need to advocate for, and increase practitioners capacity to deliver, evidence-based approaches so that they are easily and readily available to all who need it.

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Childhood Trauma And Addiction

Posted on: July 15, 2020 | Dr. Todd Thatcher

Physical and sexual abuse, as well as neglect, occur at an alarming rate. Currently considered to be a significant public health issue in the United States, experts are concerned that children exposed to this type of trauma face a significantly higher risk of becoming addicted to drugs and/or alcohol later in life.

Although the reasons behind this common co-occurrence are complex, many develop a substance use disorder after turning to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. Understanding how past trauma affects substance abuse and other mental health disorders can be key to understanding how to better treat it. Thats why at Highland Springs, we navigate all of our treatment methods in personalized, evidence-based methods.

The Harmful Effects Of Drugs And Alcohol

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Comorbidity Of Ptsd And Substance Use Disorder

Studies have also shown that there is high comorbidity between PTSD with substance abuse disorders3,11,1720 and other mental disorders. Breslau et al., in particular, found that exposure to traumatic experience did not increase the risk of substance problems independently of PTSD symptomology. Additionally, evidence has shown that the correlation between trauma and substance abuse is particularly strong for adolescents with PTSD. Up to 59% of young people with PTSD subsequently develop substance abuse problems.11,2123 This seems to be an especially strong relationship in girls.24 Others found that alcohol and drug consumption was associated with greater PTSD symptoms 1 year after a disaster,25 Additionally, women who used drugs were found to have significantly higher mean scores for total PTSD symptom severity and were more likely to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD compared to nonusers.26

Gender differences in trauma-related risk factors for alcohol and drug abuse have also been reported. One study,30 based on data from adolescent samples, suggests that traumatic event exposure increases risk for SUDs for young women, but not young men. Another study31 also suggests the existence of a gender difference in comorbidity: in men, drug use preceded the exposure to an event, while in women, the onset age for both drug use and exposure to an event were nearly identical.

Addiction Rooted In Childhood Trauma Says Prominent Specialist

By Rob WatersJanuary 10, 2019

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The Connection Between Childhood Trauma And Addiction

According to studies, children who have a history of trauma were 4 to 12 times more likely to experience drug dependency, alcoholism, mental health conditions, and even suicide attempts. While there is no singular reason why childhood trauma leads to addiction, these two conditions have a complex relationship.

Commonly, individuals who have experienced childhood trauma begin using drugs or alcohol as an attempt to self-medicate. Oftentimes, these individuals do not have the access to mental health treatment such as therapy and medications. This can cause issues like PTSD to worsen over time, leading the individual to seek alternative forms of relief. Unfortunately, childhood trauma survivors often deal with low self-worth, causing them to feel as if they do not deserve help. This only furthers their urges to self-medicate with substances.

Even further, there are many individuals who do not realize that childhood trauma is what led them to develop an addiction. It is common for childhood trauma survivors to repress their memories of abuse, further perpetuating their symptoms of depression or anxiety. This often leads individuals to use drugs and alcohol as an escape from their suffering. Unfortunately, the consequences of addiction only further exacerbate the very symptoms they were attempting to soothe.

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Other individuals who experience trauma may have a different reaction . Rather than hyperarousal, some individuals protect themselves during prolonged traumatic experiences by dissociating or employing depersonalization strategies . These individuals may feel chronically numb, disengaged, and emotionless.

Cocaine, amphetamines, synthetic drugs, and nicotine have stimulating intoxication effects that produce energy and alertness. Additionally, activities such as nonsuicidal self-injury, sex, and gaming may jolt individuals out of states of numbness and allow them to feel some sensation .

Thus, individuals with trauma histories may be more vulnerable to addiction because of the mood-modifying properties of drugs of abuse and rewarding behaviors. Indeed, addictive behaviors may be an individualâs best attempt to cope with childhood trauma’s biological and neurobiological effects, which could include hyperarousal or depersonalization .

In light of this complex relationship, the conceptualization and treatment of addiction require a trauma-informed perspective to address both the experience of trauma and addictive behaviors concurrently.

LinkedIn and Facebook image: Marjan Apostolovic/Shutterstock


Burke Harris, N. . The deepest well: Healing the long-term effects of childhood adversity. Bluebird.

De Bellis, M. D., & Zisk, A. . The biological effects of childhood trauma. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 23, 185-222.

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Additional Evidence Connecting Trauma And Addiction

This study is only the latest entry to a large and comprehensive body of evidence that suggests trauma and addiction are related. Another study of children who attended school near Ground Zero was more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol based on the number of trauma-related factors they experience . The study suggests a clear association: children with three or more trauma exposure factors were 19 times more likely to increase their use of alcohol and drugs.

Another recent study published in Neuropsychopharmacology found teens who were maltreated in childhood were more likely to develop a psychiatric or substance abuse disorder. Of the 19 maltreated children who participated in the study, five developed major depression and four developed a substance abuse disorder over the three-and-a-half-year observation period.

In What Ways Does Childhood Trauma Affect Adulthood

Several studies attribute the connection between childhood trauma and addiction to interruptions in the brain structure brought about by trauma pressure. There have also been several other easier clarifications proposed. In the Unfriendly Childhood trauma Encounters study conducted with 17,000 Kaiser Permanente patients, a wide range of pressure actuating encounters during childhood have been connected to different substance abuse types and drive control disorders.

Many partner childhood trauma with youngster abuse, but other pressure prompting and traumatic encounters connected to a raised vulnerability to addiction incorporate disregard, the departure of a parent, seeing homegrown or another physical savagery, and having a relative who experiences a mental disease.

The individuals who had encountered such things during childhood trauma related have shown an expanded inclination to become reliant on alcohol and medications. They may likewise create behavioral addictions like compulsive eating and compulsive sexual behavior.

Moreover, children ordinarily depend on their friends and family for help during seasons of trouble. But when a youngsters friends and family are the wellsprings of abuse, disregard, or other childhood trauma during these encounters, family uphold isnt a choice. By and large, a casualty of childhood abuse begins abusing alcohol or medications as a method for self-sedating, wanting to mitigate the residual impacts of being defrauded at a young age.

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What About Help For The Gray Area Drinker

Gray area drinking is considered to be when a person drinks alcohol enough that they see it as a problem, but they do not consider themselves to be an alcoholic. Gray area drinkers typically do not drink every day, but when they do drink, they have a bit too much.

Fortunately, medical treatment for alcohol use disorder is particularly effective for gray area drinkers. For example, TSM, or The Sinclair Method, works very well for gray area drinkers, using the medication, naltrexone. Naltrexone helps to pharmacologically extinguish the compulsion to continue drinking alcohol.

Shocking Report: Bars And Liquor Stores Impact Suicide Rates

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Suicide is tragic no matter what the circumstances. When compared to the general population, however, reports indicate the heartbreaking act is a staggering 120 times more prevalent among adult alcoholics. As if that weren’t enough, alcohol abusers …

statisticsandand addictionAnd is a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers . We are here to help you understand your addiction treatment options

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Ptsd And Substance Dependence

Differential levels of current PTSD symptomology between those with and without lifetime substance dependence are demonstrated in Figure 2. After controlling for age and sex, lifetime cocaine dependence was significantly associated with a higher PSS total score as well as symptom level across all three clusters . Lifetime marijuana dependence was also associated with PSS total and symptoms across all clusters . Lifetime alcohol dependence was associated with PSS total , avoidance/numbing , and hyperarousal symptoms . Lifetime heroin dependence was not significant in predicting current PTSD levels. After controlling for current level of depressive symptoms, only the marijuana dependence group differences between PSS total, intrusive, and hyperarousal scores remained significant. No other substance dependence group differences were significant after depressive symptoms were taken into account.

How Does Childhood Trauma Affect The Brain

The relationship between childhood trauma and susceptibility to addiction can be best understood when one knows how experience influences the brains development. Although none can deny the importance of biology and genetics in the brains development, the human brain has the innate ability to respond and adapt to environmental stimulation, which is called plasticity.1

As the brain begins growing and maturing during childhood, it creates, strengthens, and occasionally discards neural connections, which compose a network between neurons that imbue the brain with its many functions. Ones experiences affect brain development in a similar manner as learning to speak or walk, causing certain synapses, or connections between neurons, to develop, grow stronger or break.

In short, the growth of the brain and its eventual physical structure are significantly affected by ones experiences, both the positive and the negative. And while experience often leads to the brain developing in ways that are beneficial, experience can also be negative, which can impede or otherwise alter the brains development.

Specifically, the negative experience of childhood maltreatment is believed to be behind certain anomalies in brain structure that result in cognitive, behavioral and social impairments.2

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One: Know That You Are Not Alone And That You Deserve To Be Happy

Nearly 35 million children in the United States have experienced one or more types of trauma. Those who experience neglect, abuse, or loss early on in life, often suffer from years to come. Its common to develop a serious emotional or psychological disorder but now is the time to cultivate acceptance.

If you have been hiding behind your substance abuse disorder, you may be numb to your past, even though it has led to a wide range of problematic symptoms within your everyday life. Step one is about accepting the fact that you deserve more, and that you can achieve a more meaningful, happy life.

Rehab And Behavior Modification

Adult Migraine, Childhood Abuse?

Most patients who develop substance abuse as a result of childhood trauma never confront or effectively process their trauma without reliving it over and over and letting it run their lives. Behavioral rehab during the addiction treatment process allows patients to work with a trained mental health expert to address the trauma-related root causes and sustaining factors of their addictions. Through techniques like group therapy, individualized counseling, and supplemental therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing,eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing , and more, patients can begin to healthily process their trauma, recognize triggers, and successfully manage stress in their everyday lives.

After patients complete their treatment program, they should be given a comprehensive and targeted aftercare plan that builds on their progress in treatment and provides contact information for addiction and trauma specialists in their area to whom they can go for ongoing therapy.

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If You Are A Parent Concerned About Alcohol Abuse In Children You Must Get Help For Them Immediately

While alcohol abuse in adults is a serious concern, alcohol abuse in children something that we must take immediate action to address. The effects of alcohol on the growing brain are serious with significant consequences for how their brain will develop into adulthood. There are rehab programs specifically tailored to treat adolescents who have drug and alcohol problems. The programs can help children to stop using alcohol or drugs and get their lives back on track.

% Of Children Ages Birth To 18 Years Have Endured One Or More Traumatic Experiences

Trauma and Coping Statistics – The Pain of Children

Stress and trauma are the leading causes of unhealthy coping. Unhealthy coping is the second leading cause of death for children ages 10 to 24 . The following statistics reveal the suffering as to the prevalence of trauma and types of unhealthy coping that children are using. Children are desperate. We must equip them with healthy coping skills to successfully manage the stress and trauma they have endured and are enduring. As you read these statistics, consider the individual lives that are impacted. 6,500 youth use alcohol for the first time – every day. 6,500 kids with siblings, parents, friends, neighbors, teachers. 6,500 kids starting to use alcohol to self-medicate – and once they start, they are likely to continue. 90% of adults addicted to alcohol began drinking before they were age 18. PLEASE NOTE: While our product reach is global, the statistics noted here are limited to the United States.

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Processing Early Childhood Trauma Your Road To Recovery

The first goal of trauma recovery should and must be to improve your quality of life on a daily basis Babette Rothschild

If you have experienced trauma in the past, which has led to a life of drug and/or alcohol abuse, now is the time to heal and connect with who you are. Yes, the healing process associated with childhood trauma is hard, but it is most certainly possible. The goal is to combat your current addiction so that you can work through past experiences that allow you to mourn, then grow as an individual.

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