How Are Addiction and Trauma Connected?

How Are Addiction and Trauma Connected?

Trauma is known to play a large role in the addictions that people struggle with. People who have experienced physical or emotional trauma during their childhood have a higher risk of developing an addiction as adults. Trauma creates a vulnerability in people to want to cover up the pain that their trauma caused. It is important to understand how addiction and trauma are connected.

Engaging in behaviors or activities that can cause addiction can be an outlet to escape something bigger. The problem this creates is when an individual depends on a substance to cope with feelings, they are never able to cope fully on their own. Understanding how addiction and trauma are connected can give the motivation to seek treatment and overcome both addiction and trauma.

How Do Addiction and Trauma Co-occur With One Another?

Research has suggested that the adolescent population has higher rates of co-occurring mental health disorders. The reason for this is due to the trauma they may have experienced and the use of substances as an escape route. One does not always occur before the other. For example, Addiction could occur first and result in traumatic experiences. Also, trauma could occur first and result in addiction.

When we make decisions that do not allow us to face life’s struggles, we can create a whirlwind of problems. If we depend on substances as a temporary escape from trauma or problems, it can lead to addiction. Struggling with an addiction and not getting treatment can result in putting an individual in situations that can cause trauma.

This cycle creates comorbidity, which is the existence of two or more diagnoses at one time. There are treatments that can help with the presence of multiple diagnoses.

Honesty in Treatment Can Help You Recover Sooner

There are things we can do to recover sooner. The first step is to admit that we have a problem. Our addiction is our problem. When we are honest, it opens doors to begin focusing on the important things that are going to help us gain our quality of life back.

These are stages that we must go through in order to be fully submitted to recovery. The goal of treatment is to help us recognize the issues that our addiction has created and to catch them in the early stages. Treatment can give us the opportunity for personal growth and development.

Our willingness to be honest about our addiction and engage in treatment can prepare us for the risks of relapse; however, we do not have to go through them alone. During treatment, we can develop coping skills and gather tools that will help us with relapse prevention. Being honest about our addiction gives us the chance to recover successfully.

Relapse Prevention: How to Overcome Trauma and Addiction

There are healthy ways to overcome our addiction and not allow our trauma to get the best of us. These ways can also offer relapse prevention when put into motion. A few things we must do are one, get educated on what the techniques are when battling addiction.

Some relatively simple things you can do in your life to benefit recovery include:

  • Make healthy changes, such as diet, exercise, and relationships
  • Talk to someone so that you don’t feel alone in your struggles
  • Be honest and vulnerable with those closest to you
  • Don’t break the rules
  • Practice self-care

We must change our life. What does this mean? This step is so that we make the decision to put more positive things in our life. We must create a new environment and a new life where it is easier to not use. This can help us be successful in maintaining our path to recovery.

Changing our life for the better can help us stay focused on the things that are important. We must always be honest about how we are feeling and what we need help with. When we are feeling the urge to use, we can talk to someone we trust or a professional.

Practicing self-care is essential to physical and mental well-being. It helps us to focus on ourselves and our needs while practicing mindfulness at the same time. When we put ourselves first, we can discover parts of ourselves that we never realized were important, such as what triggers us when it comes to trauma. We then can practice using the coping skills we learned in treatment to help us deal with our trauma.

Addiction and Trauma Can Build Inner Strength

We all experience situations in life that are good and bad. It is up to us to decide if we are going to allow our trauma to take control of our lives. We do not have to be victims of our trauma and fall into addiction. We can choose to seek help so that we can overcome our addiction and trauma.

The decision to fight and overcome can help us rebuild our life. Our experience with addiction and trauma can help us gain strength and be a light to others who are battling addiction and trauma.


Addiction and trauma are not easy to talk about. However, keeping these feelings inside creates the opportunity for unhealthy behaviors or activities to arise. Get help today. Talking with someone and getting treatment for addiction and trauma can increase the chances of success in recovery. Brazos Recovery Center offers a wide option of treatments to help you work through addiction and trauma. Here you can talk to staff about your struggles, and our team will help you create an individualized plan that will focus on your treatment needs. Call Brazos Recovery Center today at (254) 232-1550. We want to help you gain control of your life and repair damage and relationships from active addiction. 

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.