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Childhood Trauma and Substance Abuse

Experiencing a traumatic situation impacts a child’s emotional and mental health. In some cases, a traumatic experience leads to post-traumatic stress disorder and contributes to substance abuse. Psych Central reports that roughly 49 percent of women and 12 percent of men who abuse drugs report sexual abuse, including child sexual abuse. Furthermore, roughly 24 percent of men and 33 percent of women who abuse alcohol report physical abuse, says Psych Central. Boston University says that almost 25 percent of children experience at least one traumatic situation by the time a child is 16 years old. Due to the high rates of co-morbidity from childhood trauma and substance abuse, seeking an addiction treatment program that addresses childhood trauma helps prevent long-term addiction.

What is Trauma?

According to the National Institutes on Health, roughly 70 percent of adolescents in treatment for substance abuse report sexual, physical or emotional trauma in their childhood. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network says that almost 13 percent of 17-year-old teenagers in the United States have experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime. Traumatic experiences do not always relate to abuse and neglect. In some cases, a single incident leaves behind long-term consequences. Possible traumatic experiences include:

  • Severe accidents, such as a car crash
  • Physical abuse during childhood
  • Witnessing abuse of any kind
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse, such as being called names or treated poorly
  • Witnessing a crime
  • Experiencing a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other major event

Traumatic experiences leave a lasting impression on young individuals and sometimes it causes severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The National Institutes on Health suggest that trauma contributes to substance abuse and other mental health disorders that develop during adolescence and adulthood.

Treating Addiction and Trauma

When traumatic experiences complicate a teenager’s treatment program, parents or caregivers must focus on options that address both sets of complications and concerns. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that Co-occurring disorders (co-morbidity) like trauma or mental health disorders add to an adolescent’s resistance to recovery and treatment. The mental health disorder or traumatic experience trigger the temptation to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, effective treatment plans for teenagers focus on behavioral therapies, appropriate medications for a mental health disorders and multi-systemic therapy. By using multiple approaches to the recovery process and addressing childhood trauma during treatment, your teen will gain the opportunity to make healthy changes to his or her lifestyle.

Seeking Professional Assistance for Trauma and Substance Abuse

Teenagers abuse drugs or alcohol for a variety of reasons, but traumatic experiences play a large role in addiction for many young individuals. A professional program that addresses substance abuse and trauma allows a teenager to build the right skill sets to avoid drugs or alcohol in the future. It also reduces the risk of relapse by addressing the underlying causes of an addiction. Childhood trauma and substance abuse harms your teens health and impacts his or her lifestyle and will continue to do so unless steps are taken to seek the guidance of professionals. Selecting a treatment program that addresses the underlying causes of an addiction allows parents to encourage long-term changes and improve a teenager’s health, lifestyle and future. Give us a call at 877-466-0620 to learn more about teen trauma and addiction. Sources:

  1. Identifying Trauma and Substance Abuse in Adolescents
  2. Substance Use, Childhood Trauma, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in an Urban Civilian Population
  3. Making the Connection: Trauma and Substance Abuse
  4. How Should Comorbid Conditions Be Treated?