Is it possible that drug and alcohol addicts are not born, but rather, created? What is the link between childhood trauma and addiction?
Research has revealed that the type of environment that a child has during his or her early years programs the brain for its environment. If the environment is a stable, nurturing one, then the brain prepares the child to adapt and feel comfortable in multiple situations. When the baseline childhood environment is one of trauma, high stress or where affection was regularly withheld or lacking, it’s a different story altogether.
When the level of stress is too great or unpredictable for a child to deal with, it could be considered trauma. Neglect in the early years of childhood can be almost as traumatic as overt child abuse.
Why Childhood Stress And Trauma Leads To Addiction
Per TheFix.com, it is noted that people who grew up in a high-stress family are at a much higher risk for addiction later in life since those individuals tend to turn to drugs and alcohol for “comfort” and stress relief. The more types of stress that a child was subjected to while growing up, the higher the odds of an addiction coming into play.
Types Of Childhood Trauma Linked To Addiction
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs) looked at 17,000 people in the Kaiser Permanente insurance program. The results of the California study found “multiple, dose-dependent relationships” between severe childhood stress and several types of addictions, including eating disorders. The study looked at several unfavorable childhood experiences, including:
- Abuse (emotional, physical and sexual)
- Having an addicted or mentally ill parent
- Having a parent who was incarcerated
- Living in a house with domestic violence
- Losing a parent to death or divorce
The higher the number of ACEs, the more likely the child will grow up to have an addiction.
Chronic Humiliation Strongest Determining Factor For Future Addiction
Chronic humiliation, a form of emotional abuse, was found to be the most destructive problem creating a situation which foreshadows future addiction. Parents who repeatedly tell their children that they are “stupid” or “worthless”, for example, leave deep emotional scars. As these children grow up, they attempt to numb the pain drug or alcohol use.
Complete Help For Drug And Alcohol Addiction
While childhood trauma does not assure that an individual will become an addict, it does increase the likelihood of developing an addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance abuse problem, there is help.
At Maryland Recovery, we treat each and every individual with the respect and care that they deserve. Our process focuses at getting to the root of the addiction, including trauma or mental illness. We care about getting you and your loved ones on the path the whole-body healing and recovery.
Call Maryland Recovery now to speak to one of our representatives about getting the personalized help you need today.
Dr. Bhalavat is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, and provides inpatient evaluation and consultation services at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital, Maryland Recovery Partners, and Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Bhalavat’s background includes treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and dementia.