Trauma and Addiction: Does One Cause the Other?

People experience all types of intense situations in their lives. Some are the victims of intensely traumatic experiences, and others suffer through terrible addictions. Still others deal with both trauma and addiction. As a result, you might be wondering if trauma and addiction are two entirely different problems or if one can cause the other.

The Short Answer

In sum, trauma can cause addiction, and addiction can cause trauma. However, that doesn’t mean one is always the cause of the other. It also doesn’t mean that every addict has had a trauma in his or her life or that every addict will cause some type of trauma. To say that these two problems are always connected to one another is a major oversimplification of both issues. Understanding the ways in which they can connect is important, but people need to work with a professional to fully recognize the source of their issues.

Driving Accidents

When it comes to addictions leading to traumas, then yes, that can certainly happen if someone chooses to get behind the wheel of a car when intoxicated with alcohol or high on drugs. By driving in these states, people can easily get into accidents that could injure or kill themselves, other passengers in the car and other people who are on the road. The physical trauma of these accidents is evident. On top of that, the people who are involved with these accidents, including the driver, can live with the trauma of the experience for the rest of their lives.

Trauma After Addiction

People who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol can experience an array of tumultuous happenings in their lives. For example, they might find that they lose their job and all of their friends, and they end up having no one left after their stay in rehab is over. They also might cause so much pain to people when they are addicted that they carry tremendous feelings of guilt around with them for months, years or even decades. In this way, addiction can lead to trauma for the individual as well.

Traumatic Experiences Influencing Addiction

Individuals who are addicted to drugs and alcohol abuse these substances for a variety of reasons. Some of them do it because they are depressed with their lives and the way that things are going. They might have been abused as children, or they might have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. Whatever the catalyst is, they drink or abuse drugs as a way to deal with their emotions. As a result, the trauma that they have experienced in their lives has caused them to seek out a destructive way of dealing with it and self-medicating.

Current Trauma

Other people might face experiences every day that cause them to turn to drugs and alcohol. Take the case of a woman who is living with an abusive spouse. She might feel as though she will be hurt, or even killed, if she tries to escape. As a result, she abuses alcohol or drugs so that she is able to deal with the pain. The trauma that leads a person to engage in destructive behaviors does not have to be something that happened in the past; it can be related to something that is constantly happening on a day-to-day basis.

As you can see, this question of whether trauma and addiction have the ability to bring one another into existence is very complicated, and the answer varies depending upon individual situations. Calling us today to schedule an appointment with a counselor is a smart way to determine the cause of your specific situation.

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