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Trauma And Substance Abuse Treatment

trauma and substance abuse

Examining the Connection Between Trauma and Substance Abuse 

Survivors of trauma can develop a condition known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can be ongoing and extremely difficult to live with. To help lessen the symptoms, some individuals might engage in substance abuse to provide a sense of relief from the emotional pain they experience. 

Today, we are going to examine the link between traumatic experiences and substance abuse behaviors. In most cases, treating the symptoms of trauma alongside an addiction is possible and can produce lasting results. 

Before we continue, please know that help is within reach if you or a loved one is dealing with addiction. For more resources, please call the national SAMHSA Help Line at (800) 662-4357 or reach out to us for treatment information at (844) 999-0874. 

Research Shows a Link Between Trauma and Substance Abuse 

According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, there exists a rather strong connection between surviving traumatic events and substance abuse behaviors. In many cases, the individual living with trauma will engage in using drugs or alcohol to help cope with painful emotions, terrible memories, and residual symptoms of their experiences. 

Why Can Trauma Lead to Substance Abuse? 

If there is a significant correlation between surviving trauma and engaging in substance abuse, it’s important to examine possible explanations. While 

Some possible motivating factors behind the link between trauma and substance abuse can include: 


Some individuals who survive trauma might engage with substances as a method of self-medicating. The numbing feelings that alcohol or certain drugs can provide might provide a person a brief moment of solace from otherwise distressing thoughts. In turn, this might play a role in forming a pattern of addiction. 

Relieving Mood Symptoms 

People living with PTSD might also develop an irregular biological stress response. In these types of instances, a person might experience great difficulty in regulating their emotional reactions to triggers in their surrounding environment. To help lessen these symptoms, they might turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of providing relief.  

Genetic Factors

Due to genetic variation, some people are naturally more resilient to trauma and PTSD than others. Some individuals are completely able to resume their lives shortly after a traumatic event with little difficulty while others might need help processing their experiences with the aid of a therapist. 

No one is “greater” or “less” when it comes to resiliency. This is an innate characteristic that a person does not have control over. People with naturally lower resiliency can work to improve it through therapy. 

In addition to resiliency, a person might have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism or another form of substance abuse. This might make it harder for a person to cease this behavior once they have begun consuming drugs or alcohol. 

Can Trauma and Substance Abuse be Treated Together? 

Absolutely. This is called a dual diagnosis approach. During your treatment assessment, a professional therapist will work with you to uncover underlying circumstances that could be influencing your behavior patterns. From there, a treatment plan is developed to address both the substance abuse issue and other relevant factors. 

Depending on the severity of the trauma, a professional might recommend a combination of different therapies to sufficiently address the underlying issues. Once the symptoms of PTSD are lessened or relieved completely, a person can develop healthy coping skills and learn to live a fulfilling life free from trauma symptoms and substance abuse behaviors. 

Get Treatment for Trauma and Substance Abuse in South Florida

Are you or a loved one struggling with PTSD and/or substance abuse? At Compassion, we provide caring dual diagnosis treatments for our neighbors in South Florida. Recovery and resiliency are possible, and we are here to help. 

To learn more about our substance abuse treatment options, contact us anytime at (844) 999-0874.