Trauma, Gateway Drug to Addiction

Many people consider trauma to be the gateway drug to various addictions. Although it is not guaranteed that someone who has experienced trauma in their lifetime will wind up becoming an addict, it is fairly common. The reason being that trauma can activate survival tactics that lead to addiction. Trauma, especially childhood trauma can influence someone’s entire personality.  Substances can be used to mask these feelings. Addiction in itself is a coping mechanism. Addictions can be used to soothe the overactive part of the brain that is in a constant state of fight-flight trying to micromanage the impact of trauma.

One of the benefits of going to treatment and receiving aftercare such as attending ongoing support groups is learning how to manage the trauma and the addictions in a healthy way. Once an addicted person gets into recovery, they begin to learn different types of skills, tools for avoiding risky behaviors and relapse. However, prior to learning these new skills, using substances was the ultimate way of protecting themselves from all of their uncomfortable feelings and trauma.

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