Trauma and Addiction: Why It’s Vital to Consider Both At Broward County Drug Rehab

Last Updated: Apr 2nd 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

Human trauma is everywhere and at some point in their lives most people suffer from some form. Everyone from the poor, the rich, male, female, gender non-conforming persons, people on all levels of the sexuality spectrum, throughout different cultures and races around the world, those persons well known and those whose lives go on without the notice of the wide world, whose lives go on everyday outside of the spotlight. No matter what kind of person or what type of life they choose to live, everyone is effected at some point by a difficult event that personally hurts or damages them personally, if not them specifically they will most likely witness another person suffer great loss or pain.  The Center for Anxiety Disorders says the following about trauma:

“In general, trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. When loosely applied, this trauma definition can refer to something upsetting, such as being involved in an accident, having an illness or injury, losing a loved one, or going through a divorce. However, it can also encompass the far extreme and include experiences that are severely damaging, such as rape or torture. Because events are viewed subjectively, this broad trauma definition is more of a guideline. Everyone processes a traumatic event differently because we all face them through the lens of prior experiences in our lives. For example: one person might be upset and fearful after going through a hurricane, but someone else might have lost family and barely escaped from a flooded home during Hurricane Katrina. In this case, a minor Category One hurricane may bring up traumatic flashbacks of their terrifying experience.” 

The point they are making at the Center for Anxiety Disorders is that the way in which trauma affects a person is directly related to their own lives or their previous life experiences leading up to the traumatic event. It doesn’t matter what a person is experiencing they always come to a new situation with all of their previous ideas and memories present in their minds as a way to see and understand the new experience.

 

Common Types of Trauma

  • The death of someone close to you
  • Going through divorce as either one of the people espoused to one another, or as a child of parents divorcing
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Rape
  • Domestic abuse as a child or an adult
  • Chronic pain
  • Neglect
  • Homelessness
  • Emotional abuse in the workplace
  • Emotional abuse by a partner or parent
  • Natural disaster
  • Witnessing a violent act against someone else

 

Trauma Facts

For a bit of a more simple definition, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or the SAMHSA defines trauma as “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”

 

Facts from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration About Trauma:

  • Between 15% to 25% of women experience a lifetime history of sexual abuse be it in childhood or adulthood, or tragically throughout both stages in life.  
  • Within the different definitions and forms of domestic abuse, domestic violence among women in the United States ranges from 9% to 44%. At this point it is pretty clear that non-male persons are at a higher risk for sexual trauma than men are. Though men can and do experience sexual abuse and many other devastating forms of trauma.
  • When RAND Corporation did a study in 2008, they discovered that almost 19% of veterans who returned from their tour of duty in the military reported that they suffered from some of the signs and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Almost 19% of the men in the United States, and more than 15% of women in the United States report having experienced a natural disaster at some point in their lives.

 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration informs the public that the cost to the public of trauma such as domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence ends up adding up to 8.3 billion dollars in 2003. The price tag includes treatment for any medical care and treatment or needs of the victim such as treatment for mental health rehabilitation for the traumatized victims as well as the lost productivity of the persons who experienced the trauma. Billions of dollars being spent on this sort of trauma is something that is hard to ignore. Perhaps humanity would be well to consider why it takes billions of dollars funneling out of our pockets to notice the suffering of the traumatized.

 

This expense clearly shows through the calling out of loss of productivity and other community expenses incurred because of  trauma, that it devastates the lives of more than just the person who experiences the trauma to begin with. Indeed, the trauma extends to the community at large, both in social and economic ways trauma instills a sense of terror or danger in the community, and consequently robs the people of a voice and the sense safety that is most helpful in raising movers and shakers, leaders to fight for the community. None the less there are those have been traumatized who are able to move forward in the efforts to fight for their communities and the underprivileged and torn down. This sort of persistence requires a singular person and communities should not have to wait for someone to come forward. In fact there should be treatment available for those who need it.

 

Trauma and Addiction by their very natures are linked to one each other. Someone who goes through trauma may be struggling for any scrap of peace, something, anything to ease the pain of flashbacks, shame, the desperation and deep anxiety that often comes with trauma.  

 

Addicts and Abuse: How Untreated Trauma Is Linked To Addiction

It is virtually impossible to argue with the numbers. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network shows that trauma and addiction are basically inseparable in their white paper: Making the Connection: Trauma and Substance AbuseA person with a history of childhood trauma is five times more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol and almost fifty percent more likely to develop an addiction to drugs. Studies show that up to 76% of adolescents struggling with drug or alcohol addiction developed their chemical dependency after they have experienced some sort of trauma. Many of those who have experienced trauma also develop some kind of mental health disorder, often post traumatic stress disorder.

They may also end up developing any variety of other disorders such as anxiety and depression based mental health mood disorders. The same studies state that trauma may make it virtually impossible for an adolescent to cease using the addictive substance because post traumatic stress disorder, when combined with substance abuse is a dual diagnosis.

Dual diagnosis must be treated simultaneously with addiction if there is any hope that the treatment will actually be effective. Post traumatic stress, and any other types of mental health disorders present, and the drug or alcohol addiction help the other disorder thrive as they bolster each others symptoms, plaguing the victim with what may feel like impossible pain to work through.

 

Sober Living in Florida is Possible for Trauma Victims Struggling with Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Dr. J Douglas Bremner says that “Traumatic stressors such as early trauma can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects about 8% of Americans at some time in their lives, as well as depression, substance abuse, dissociation, personality disorders, and health problems For many trauma victims, PTSD can be a lifelong problem. The President’s New Freedom Commission Report highlights the Importance of providing services for mental disorders related to early trauma.” 

 

According to J. Douglas Bremner, MD, in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, traumatic stress can change someone’s brain chemistry. “Brain areas implicated in the stress response include the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Traumatic stress can be associated with lasting changes in these brain areas. Traumatic stress is associated with increased cortisol and norepinephrine responses to subsequent stressors.” Bremner goes on to say that trauma can shrink different regions of the brain, it can increase various hormones and some chemicals within the body, and even change the way memory function. Trauma is a serious medical emergency and should be taken as such instead of ignored or shoved aside.

 

1st Step Behavioral Health offers addiction and trauma treatment at their South Florida rehab centers that can work to treat both addiction as well as mental health disorders at the same time. We believe that it is important to treat the patients individually because we know that it is the experiencing the trauma of addiction and any other trauma the patient comes to us with is impossible to heal from without help. Our licensed medical professionals qualified therapists will be there with you to support you throughout your journey at our rehab centers and detox. Broward County detox and rehab at 1st Step can help you on your way to sobriety as well as piece of mind. Contact us today to get started

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.