It’s no secret that those with a family history of alcoholism or of drug addiction are at higher risk for developing such conditions themselves. Another piece of that is whether or not the individual has faced any level of trauma in his or her life that might further increase this risk. In fact, the relationship between trauma and addiction is crucial, and isn’t always addressed during the treatment process.

The Dangerous Duo of Trauma and Addiction

Understanding the roots of a person’s addiction is a critical piece of his or her recovery, but it can be difficult to nail down those initial circumstances that might have fueled the fire. Part of that catalyst for many is a mixture of family history and some level of trauma… and how those two interact within the individual’s life.

“When a family is ill with addiction, its members are much more likely to experience trauma than nonaddicted families. The trauma is more likely to be more serious and more painful, and it is likely to take longer to heal. In short, addiction worsens every dimension of trauma.” A parent who struggles with alcohol abuse may not treat their children well. A son or daughter who is addicted to drugs may isolate themselves from the rest of the family, causing grief to the others. Whatever the situation or relationship, the connection between trauma and addiction is clear.

‘Trauma’ doesn’t have to mean a huge, explosive, life-changing event. There are smaller instances that could cause similar damage, though their nature may be more subtle. Whatever the occurrence, it’s the effect on the individual that matters and, in this scenario, how that effect interacts with the development of an addiction. One may manifest first in the person and then is likely to feed into the other over time, and both together are a deadly, overwhelming combination.

Unfortunately, this pair can also lead to other, similarly-bad conditions, such as mental illness, eating disorders, unhealthy relationships with others, and much more. That is just one part of why it’s so important to address both addiction and trauma during treatment, so that the patient, together with an expert, can work on identifying the root causes. Without including trauma as part of this conversation, it may continue to fester under the surface, even after current addictive tendencies end, and later cause other, or similar, problems in that person’s life.

“While all of us are exposed to experiences that could be traumatic, not all losses and crises have long term impact.  Different people have differing levels of resilience.” As mentioned before, even smaller ‘traumas’ can cause rippling effects that worsen addictions or drive other bad habits and choices. In a life where a family member suffers from an addiction, trauma is almost a given, and it can almost be thought of as being able to be passed from person to person within the family. It’s like an illness in that way, spreading and worsening the lives of those it touches.

The bottom line when considering these factors and how they relate to each other is that, in trying to understand how addictions form, and how to move past them, we must also keep traumatic experiences in mind. They are an enormous part of that person’s life, should they exist, and thus cannot be forgotten in trying to help the patient.

Find the right recovery center for you in this new year. If you need help moving past an experience of trauma and addiction, then contact The Bergand Group. We offer recovery programs for yourself or for others or are seeking education materials about addictions. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, including direction for those who may be denying an addiction.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.