There is a well-documented link between addictive behaviour and a history of trauma/abuse.  

  • Trauma can lead to substance abuse. 
  • Substance abuse can lead to trauma. 
  • Trauma and substance abuse may have occurred together. 
  • Both can be connected in a 'downward spiral' or cycle. 
  • Recovery from one generally needs to address the recovery of the other. 
Common themes: 

Secrecy is another central theme to both trauma and addiction. Secrecy can be influenced by shame, and a wish to keep problems a secret (e.g. what was done, impacts, ways of coping, addiction). 

Shame is an emotion that many survivors identify struggling with. By itself, shame is rarely expressed, and the individual spends significant energy trying to bury or avoid it. Alcohol and drug use can act as a way to numb feelings of shame. 

Powerlessness or loss of control is another central theme for both trauma and addiction. With respect to sexual abuse, an event occurred that you did not choose and did not want. Alcohol and drug misuse can lead to a sense of loss of choice and control.

Aren't other behaviours addictive? 

Yes. Many people believe that other behaviours can be addictive as well: sex, gambling, 'porn' (sexually explicit materials), and money are all examples of this. Professionals often refer to these behaviours as 'dysregulated' when they become problematic for the individual and/or his loved ones.   

While none of these other behaviours involve taking substances to change our mood or brain chemistry, all habitual, repetitive, or compulsive behaviours create bio-chemical changes in our brain. 


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Last modified: Sunday, 29 July 2018, 12:26 PM