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Understanding Why Trauma and Substance Abuse Are Related

Trauma and substance abuse are both life defining mental illnesses that, unfortunately, many people struggle with and often don’t or don’t know how to seek help for.

If you or a loved one are struggling with trauma and substance abuse, contact Starbridge Recovery to see how our comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment programs can help you. 

What Is Trauma?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines trauma as “… [resulting] from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.” 

SAMHSA goes on to say that, “It occurs as a result of violence, abuse, neglect, loss, disaster, war and other emotionally harmful experiences. Trauma has no boundaries with regard to age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, geography or sexual orientation.”

What Is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse occurs when an individual develops an unhealthy relationship with drugs and/or alcohol. Through this process, the person becomes addicted to how the substance impacts their body and continues to use it regardless of the impact it has on their life. 

While substance abuse affects everyone differently, common red flags include increased risk-taking behavior, lying, allowing drugs or alcohol to impact close relationships, and difficulties at home, work, school, or social settings.

Why Are Trauma and Substance Abuse Related?

These two mental illnesses are often comorbid. Evidence shows that individuals who experience childhood trauma are more likely to experience a number of mental illnesses due to neural instability and functioning. 

The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies indicates that, “Many people who have experienced child abuse, criminal attack, disasters, war, or other traumatic events turn to alcohol or drugs to help them deal with emotional pain, bad memories, poor sleep, guilt, shame, anxiety, or terror.” 

The National Survey of Adolescents noted that teens who experienced physical or sexual abuse were three times as likely to report past or current substance abuse. Additional surveys of teens receiving treatment for substance abuse indicated that 70% were exposed to trauma at a young age. 

One study concluded that sexual and emotional abuse increased the likelihood of cocaine and marijuana use, while physical abuse increased the likelihood of generalized drug use.

Finally, studies show that those who abuse substances are more likely to experience traumas due to increased risk taking behavior, therefore causing a vicious cycle of use and abuse.

How Can Trauma and Substance Abuse Be Treated?

Trauma and substance abuse can be treated through a number of different therapies, but they usually all start with the same process, detoxification.

Substances impact the way the mind perceives situations and can hamper recovery and treatment of trauma. Detoxification will remove the toxins from your body and start that healing process while your mind clears. 

As this occurs, therapy treatment, both individual and group will probably be recommended. This can occur as inpatient or outpatient care, but specifically when treating trauma, success comes in a safe, structured, and consistent environment like residential care. From there, behavioral therapies, desensitization therapy, and processing therapy can take place. 

Recovering from trauma and substance use is a difficult and challenging process. Let Starbridge Recovery support you through it.

How Can Starbridge Recovery Help?

At Starbridge Recovery, we offer premier substance abuse and mental health care. Our expert medical staff is experienced and available 24/7 to support your needs. By curating specifically detailed treatment programs, we can promote overall wellness through individual and group treatments. By offering the best of traditional and alternative therapies, our clients can access individual supports to meet their specifically defined needs.

Our intimate setting ensures privacy and individual care. Luxury private and semi-private rooms with spa-like bathrooms afford our clients the necessary amenities for recuperation and healing. 

Let us help you manage your trauma and substance abuse addiction at Starbridge Recovery.

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