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Childhood Trauma

Does Childhood Trauma Lead to Addiction?

Research shows a strong link between early trauma and adult well-being, so it’s not surprising that people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress. While it’s never too late to get help, putting it off only makes things worse. Many rehab centers deal with co-occurring conditions, and some provide holistic detox and rehab programs that go to the root of the old wound and heal the mind, body and spirit.

What is Childhood Trauma?

Whether it's experiencing or witnessing an upsetting event, trauma can leave a lasting impact on children and teens. Feelings of helplessness that persist into adulthood and physical and mental health disorders are common. Reactions mostly depend on the individual's interpretation of what happened.

The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) studies, ongoing research on the link between childhood trauma and quality of life in adulthood, says approximately 65% of all children have at least one adverse experience during their childhood. Around 40% experience two or more adverse experiences. The greater the number of events, the greater the risk of mental and physical conditions later on.

Mental issues include addiction, domestic abuse, school or work problems, depression, and suicide. Physical conditions range from diabetes and heart disease to somatic illnesses like headaches and upset stomachs.

Childhood Trauma and PTSD

Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) is a mental health condition that affects individuals who witnessed or experienced scary events. Episodes may be brief or prolonged. Symptoms include inability to stop thinking about the event, flashbacks, guilt, anxiety or panic attacks, and nightmares.

Up to 6% of boys and 15% of girls develop PTSD after going through a traumatic event. Children with PTSD may avoid situations that remind them of the trigger, act out the drama in play, and relive the experience in their minds. To prevent the trauma from reoccurring, they may become hypervigilant, constantly scanning their environment for real or imagined threats.

Young people with post-traumatic stress syndrome may be angry, hostile, depressed or anxious. They may distrust others, fear being alone, have low self-esteem, or be self-destructive. Learning and behavioral problems, mental health disorders, health conditions, and legal problems occur more often among these children. Trauma is also an underlying factor in most substance use and behavioral disorders.

Addiction and Trauma

Neurons, building blocks in the brain, create networks that control the brain’s functions. This takes place in sequential order, and each step builds on earlier ones. Traumatic events that happen during critical stages of development change the way the brain works and cause problems:

  • Trouble with relationships, inability to set boundaries
  • Physical health issues, including motor skills, somatic illnesses, and medical problems
  • Inability to label emotions or ask for help
  • Dissociated thinking, amnesia, and poor memory
  • Learning problems, difficulty organizing time and possessions
  • Poor body image, guilt, low self-esteem
  • Impulsivity, oppositional behavior, acting out, eating or sleeping problems

When stress becomes too much to handle, individuals self-medicate with substances or compulsive behavior, leading to addiction.

At Enlightened Solutions, our team of professionals offers medical supervision, counseling, and complementary healing therapies like yoga and art therapy. Contact us for more information about our holistic detox program for conditions like addiction and trauma.

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