There are several factors that impact the likelihood of substance abuse in adults. These include hereditary factors, the environment in which a person lives, and their personal experiences. One of the most significant predictors of substance abuse, however, is childhood trauma.
Children who survive abuse or neglect usually experience serious consequences for their mental health in adulthood. These adults are more likely to experience depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD or CPTSD. They are also more likely to turn to substance abuse as a way of self-medicating their mental health problems.
This blog post will discuss the link between childhood trauma and substance abuse.
Childhood trauma impacts brain development
Childhood trauma refers to any experience that is emotionally painful or overwhelming. This could include neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, witnessing violence, or having a parent with a substance abuse problem..
Children who grow up in narcissistic families inevitably experience prolonged childhood trauma whose effects can be long-lasting and severe. The narcissistic parent traumatises both the scapegoat and the golden child in the chaos that they create.
Abuse or neglect creates massive stress that literally rewires the connections in the child’s brain. The brain changes that occur make it more difficult for someone to cope with stress in a healthy way. This often leads to problems with impulse control, decision-making, and emotional regulation. These issues can have a serious impact on life decisions and the resulting quality of life of these children when they become adults.
Trauma in childhood has a direct impact on how victims perceive and react to adversity, as well as trust and connect with others. This leads to future problems in the workplace and also in intimate relationships. In other words, experiencing childhood abuse and neglect makes it much harder to achieve professional success and maintain long term relationships as adults.
The link between childhood trauma and substance abuse
The link between childhood trauma and substance abuse is well-established. Studies have shown that individuals who experienced traumatic events in childhood are more likely to develop substance abuse problems as adults. One study found that nearly 60% of adults in treatment for substance abuse reported experiencing at least one traumatic event in childhood.
Individuals who have experienced childhood trauma are also more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individuals with PTSD often experience flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts. They may also have difficulty sleeping and may suffer from anxiety and depression. PTSD can make it difficult for individuals to function in everyday life. This can lead to substance abuse as a way of self-medicating.
Finally, childhood trauma is often a intergenerational issue. Individuals who grow up in homes where there is substance abuse or violence are more likely to experience childhood trauma and to develop substance abuse problems as adults.
Comorbidity of trauma and mental health issues
The link between childhood trauma and addiction is further complicated by the fact that many individuals who suffer from addiction also have mental health disorders. This is known as comorbidity. Comorbidity occurs when two or more disorders are present in the same individual. Individuals with comorbidity often have difficulty managing both disorders, and may be more likely to relapse.
The Hereditary Nature of Addiction
The genetic element of addiction disorders is a factor that is often overlooked. However, recent studies have shown that there may be a strong link between genetics and addiction. In fact, studies have shown that up to 50% of the risk for addiction may be due to genetics. This means that if you have a family history of addiction, you may be more likely to develop an addiction yourself.
Addiction can take many different forms, and can involve a variety of different substances. Some of the most common types of substance abuse include alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and gambling addiction. However, any type of addiction can be serious and life-threatening.
Overcoming childhood trauma and substance abuse
The impact of childhood trauma can be devastating, and the effects can last a lifetime. If you or someone you know has experienced childhood trauma, and you are currently struggling with some form of substance abuse or addiction, it is important to seek help from a trauma-informed mental health professional. With the right treatment, it is possible to heal the wounds of childhood trauma and learn to live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life.
For Further Reading:
Check out the following posts if you are interested in understanding the impact of narcissistic abuse on victims –
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
- Alienation (after trauma)
- Child affected by Parental Relationship Distress (CAPRD)
- Codependent or codependency
- Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD or C-PTSD)
- Learned Helplessness
- Linen Cupboard Metaphor
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
- Narcissistic FOG
- Negative Self-Talk
- Parental Alienation
- PTSD – Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Trauma Bond
- Trauma Trigger
- Can You Get PTSD From Narcissistic Abuse? The Toxic Impact of the Narcissist
- What Happens after a Narcissist Maliciously Destroys Our Self-Image?
- Narcissistic Family Roles – the impact on the narcissist’s close family members
- The Devastating Impact of Childhood Trauma on Substance Abuse in Adulthood
- Shame – the legacy of a toxic childhood
- The devastating impact of emotional abuse – how to recognise the signs
- The Long-Term Effects of Narcissistic Abuse – How Narcissists Damage Their Victims
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