How Trauma Can Fuel Addiction

Most people have an idea that substance abuse is hurting them. Pretty much every addict understands the danger of the situation, and none of them really ever desired to become an addict. The key to addiction is that you feel like you are in control of it…until you’re not. For many people, the initial desire to use an illicit substance comes from a history of trauma; something that they wanted to drown out. Here are some ways that trauma helps fuel the mindset that pushes people towards addiction…

Substance abuse can feel safe

Trauma comes from the world. It is something that usually happens “to” someone, rather than as a consequence of their own actions (though not always). As such, it is helpful to feel like there is a safe space away from the horrors of the world from which your trauma was wrought. Addiction can provide this safe space, or at least the illusion of it, by allowing an addict to escape into the recesses of their own mind.

Provides an escape

Substance abuse, and the act of getting high or drunk, often presents the opportunity to escape the feelings that we would rather forget. A sober mind often can’t help but face the troubles of the past, but illicit substances help addicts push those memories out of mind, and create a haze that clouds not only a person’s memories, but their very identity.

Alleviates pain

The anxiety and pain that is caused by trauma can be horrifying. At times, the tension in a person’s mind and body can make it difficult to move or get out of bed. Lasting psychological trauma can make it impossible for a person to feel comfortable in their own skin. Many addictive substances chemically reduce the feelings of pain, which creates a comfort zone that is hard to escape from for addicts.

Other addicts often empathize with trauma

Trauma and addiction both work through alienation. Trauma has the horrible side effect of making people feel like they are alone, and that there is nowhere they can turn to. However, because trauma is a common origin for many addicts, an addict often finds solidarity with other people who suffer from both addiction and trauma. This means that the only place they can find people who understand what they are going through are in the same social circles that will perpetuate the dangerous behavior of addiction.