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How Trauma Can Cause Addiction

Woman thinking about trauma and addiction

Did you know that trauma and addiction can affect each other? In many cases when they do, clients have co-occurring disorders and become ideal participants of dual diagnosis treatment programs.

It’s not difficult to understand how trauma shapes the way someone views the world, themselves, and how they make decisions. Traumatic experiences affect daily functioning when they’re not processed, and can contribute to developing substance use disorders (SUDs). In turn, SUDs can worsen the effect of trauma symptoms.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with both unresolved trauma and addiction, you must seek professional help to get better. Searching for a dual diagnosis treatment program in Panama City Beach, Florida? Reach out to Recovery Bay Center today. You can call 833.991.2955 or contact our team online.

What’s the Connection Between Trauma and Addiction?

The human brain is often thought of by experts as plastic, which means it can adapt and respond to anything a person experiences during their life. This plasticity allows a person to make memories and learn new skills while maintaining their daily functioning. Everything a person does, both bad and good, causes their brain’s neurons to grow, change, or even break. It all depends on the necessary adjustments the brain needs to make to keep people functioning in their day-to-day lives.

The brain’s plasticity allows people to continue functioning after trauma, whether it’s physical or mental. However, resolving mental trauma can be more difficult than relearning how to walk or speak. Plasticity is why traumatic experiences — especially from childhood — that aren’t processed follow someone throughout their lives. High levels of cortisol and other hormones common to childhood trauma can impede normal brain development.

Overall, trauma can create a variety of long-term mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As many as two-thirds of people struggling with addiction have some form of childhood trauma. Their trauma may lead them to self-medicate with addictive substances, which provides the foundation for the connection between trauma and addiction. These people may also model their SUD behaviors on what they observed in loved ones as they were growing up.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders are typically diagnosed mental health issues affecting a client at the same time. Their respective symptoms may affect and even worsen each other. For example, as already mentioned above, someone can be diagnosed with both a SUD and PTSD.

While PTSD isn’t limited to those with a history of military service, many veterans struggling with PTSD are known to have SUDs and misuse addictive substances to cope with their traumatic experiences by helping them manage symptoms or handle triggers, which may include:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Hypersensitivity, especially when abrupt movements or loud noises are involved
  • Insomnia
  • Social withdrawal

Anyone who has a separate mental health condition and a SUD has a dual diagnosis. Along with PTSD and other anxiety disorders — which may be brought on by trauma — issues that often co-occur with SUDs are major depression and schizophrenia.

To treat co-occurring disorders — particularly an addiction and a trauma-related condition, like PTSD — a health care facility must be able to address both the addictive cycle and the underlying trauma that may have contributed to the development of the addiction.

When Should You Consider a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program?

While trauma-related mental health conditions often develop along with addiction, other conditions can also be part of a dual diagnosis. If you or someone you love has a dual diagnosis, make sure that any treatment program you’re considering can treat the specific co-occurring condition in your case.

If addiction is treated without addressing the co-occurring condition, then it’s more likely for both to re-occur. Here are three reasons you should consider a dual diagnosis treatment program:

1. Customization based on each client’s needs

Because each dual diagnosis case is unique, each treatment program must be personalized. Programs like this focus on understanding how a client’s co-occurring disorders affect each other and treating both disorders at the same time.

2. Education on healthy coping mechanisms

Dual diagnosis treatment programs can help clients identify and discard unhealthy coping mechanisms and learn new and healthy ones that work on symptoms and triggers of both conditions.

3. Higher chance of successful healing

An integrated approach to dual diagnosis treatment — meaning treating co-occurring disorders at the same time — can change the entire treatment experience. Treating a SUD without treating its co-occurring condition may lead to that co-occurring condition’s symptoms sprouting up at the most inconvenient times and jeopardizing addiction recovery. Luckily, a situation like this is avoidable with dual diagnosis treatment.

Ready To Learn More About Recovery Bay Center’s Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program?

If you’re looking for a dual diagnosis treatment program in Panama City Beach, Florida, contact Recovery Bay Center today. You can call 833.991.2955 or reach out to our team online.