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Childhood Trauma and Adult Addiction

There is continuing research being done on addiction. Research topics like genetics are often heard of. But what about the correlation between childhood trauma and addiction? Is there a link there? Childhood is the formative years for your sense of right and wrong, what your perception of love is, and your general reaction to situations. Having trauma occur during these years can alter the way the brain forms and functions, and this can lead to detrimental repercussions in later years, long after the trauma has occurred.

What is Childhood Trauma?

Childhood trauma is when an event occurs in childhood that can be emotionally painful to the child. The events that occur often have long lasting effects on the physical and mental well-being of the child in the long run. Having traumatic events occur during the formative years, whether a single event or repeated, can cause a child to feel they have lost all sense of control and safety. These feelings can interrupt the development of the child.

How Childhood Trauma Affects the Brain

While biology and genetics are a vital part of brain development, the brain has what is known as neuroplasticity and this means that it can change and adapt to any given situation. So when any sort of traumatic event occurs, it can lead to the brain’s make-up changing. Trauma during the early years of life, while the brain is beginning its formation, can alter the formation of the brain. This can lead to difficulty in behavioral and emotional reactions. These changes can carry on into adulthood.

Does Childhood Trauma Affect Addiction in Adulthood?

Many people who struggle with an alcohol addiction or drug addiction have experienced some kind of trauma. A lot of those traumas were experienced in childhood. Having tragic and harmful things happen during childhood and feeling that sense of losing control can cause someone to turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to feel like they have gained some semblance of control. This is a false narrative, as drinking and drugging can lead to addiction and once addiction has been reached, the sense of control has been lost.

Using drugs and alcohol to cope with the feelings associated with childhood traumas is unhealthy. The link between childhood trauma and addiction can be seen by the number of addicts seeking recovery who say that the things that happened during childhood, like molestation, abuse, and neglect, led them to feeling a sense of unworthiness and not feelings wanted or loved. These feelings trigger a need for individuals to, somehow, gain those feelings. Whether it be codependence or substance dependence as a way to feel like they don’t feel that way.

The number of addicts looking to get clean and sober who cite childhood trauma as the reason for them using drugs and alcohol is staggering. It is vital to sort out and learn ways of coping with these unresolved traumas in order to curb addiction and prevent relapse once the drugs and alcohol have been removed.

Can Addiction Be Treated?

The short answer is yes. Childhood trauma and addiction are both treatable conditions. When it comes to ending the addiction, it is highly recommended to have medical supervision for various reasons. One being that there can be side effects, medically, of the drug being stopped. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. Everyone experiences withdrawals differently, and no one symptom is associated with any specific drug. There are some pretty generalized symptoms of withdrawal that can be seen across those experiencing withdrawal. Not all are necessarily seen in everyone, however most of these symptoms are associated with those ending drug and alcohol abuse:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps and aches
  • Restlessness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Increase or decrease in appetite

Having medical supervision during this time can be beneficial to preventing medical events that have long lasting repercussions. Being medically monitored by professionals can allow for these blood pressure spikes to be handled. It can also help to maintain someone’s comfort during detox, medications can be dispensed to help counteract some of these extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and allow for someone to get through the detox process, and begin their journey of recovery.

Additionally, having the addiction professionals available in an inpatient setting for therapeutic purposes can help to begin the process of healing from childhood traumas and addiction traumas. Being able to turn to someone trained to help process feelings and emotions, as well as traumas can help keep someone from acting on impulse and giving up on finding recovery. There is help for both childhood trauma and addiction that may have stemmed from it.

Help for Childhood Trauma and Addiction in Lexington, KY

Trauma that stems from childhood can be extremely detrimental in the later, adulthood years. Resolving them can lead you to a healthy lifestyle. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, or have experienced childhood trauma, there is help out there. Here at Lexington Addiction Center there is hope. Contact us today and our team of professionals can help to guide you to a place of peace and serenity.