Drug Addiction And It’s Related Psychological Trauma

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Last Updated on March 27, 2021 by

Contents :
Who Experiences Psychological Trauma?
The Relationship Between Psychological Trauma and Substance Abuse
Causes of Psychological Trauma and Drug Addiction
Treatment
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Psychological trauma often occurs in those who have experienced significant damage to their psyche. This may happen because a patient has lived through a particularly stressful event or situation. This kind of trauma can occur when a person is faced with stress that exceeds their ability to cope with the respective strain. Because of this, trauma and its consequences are highly subjective.
Emotional and psychological trauma can also result from extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you striving with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won't go away.
Victims of psychological trauma typically experience long-term and severe consequences of their trauma, resulting in PTSD in many cases. They often cannot work through their trauma unless guided by a professional.
There are three types of trauma:

Acute Trauma:
Mainly resulting from a single distressing event, such as an accident, rape, assault, or natural disaster. This event is extreme enough to threaten a person's emotional or physical security. The event creates a lasting impression on the person's mind. If not addressed via medical assistance, it can affect how the person thinks and behaves. Acute trauma generally presents in the form of:
• Excessive anxiety or panic
• Irritation
• Inability to have a restful sleep
• A feeling of disconnection from the surroundings
• Unreasonable lack of trust etc

Chronic trauma:
This occurs when a person is exposed to multiple, long-term, and lengthened distressing, traumatic events over an extended period. Chronic trauma may result from a severe long-term illness, sexual abuse, bull, domestic violence and exposure to extreme situations, such as a war. Several events of acute trauma, as well as untreated acute trauma, may progress into chronic trauma. The symptoms of chronic trauma often emerge after a long time, even years after the event. The symptoms are profoundly distressing and may exemplify labile or unpredictable emotional outbursts, extreme anger, flashbacks, body-aches, fatigue etc.

Complex trauma:
It results from susceptibility to varied and multiple traumatic events or experiences. The incidents are generally within the context of an interpersonal (between people) relationship. It may give the person a feeling of being entangled. Complex trauma often has a severe impact on a person's mind. It may be seen in individuals who have been victims of childhood abuse, neglect, rape, family disputes, and other repetitive situations, such as civil unrest. It affects a person's overall health, relationships, and performance at work or school.

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Who Experiences Psychological Trauma?
Psychological trauma can happen in anyone, regardless of their age, race or gender, or any other identifiable conditions. Certain factors, however, might mitigate the damage psychological trauma can have on a person. People who come from stable families, for instance, might be more able to process traumatic events. In contrast, certain conditions seen in children might indicate the development of PTSD later in life. Since people who experience psychological trauma come from all backgrounds, and since it can be challenging for certain people to express their thoughts and feelings regarding their childhood trauma, it's essential that psychological trauma not be ruled out in diagnosis until one can be sure it is not a part of a patient's history.
Childhood trauma can contribute to the development of trauma-related consequences shortly after following the onset of trauma or perhaps later in life. Experiencing childhood trauma increases the likelihood that a patient will suffer from PTSD, depression and substance abuse. Some of the most common forms of childhood trauma include abuse of all types, witnessing abuse, and witnessing a tragic event.
PTSD, which is caused by psychological trauma, is thought to affect roughly 7.7 million American adults. According to research, women are more likely to experience PTSD than men. Studies also suggest that a predisposition for the development of PTSD can be hereditary. People can even develop PTSD without having experienced a traumatic event themselves. The harm or death of others, especially close friends and family members, can be enough to trigger PTSD in some people. Not everyone who experiences a severely traumatic event will develop psychological trauma or PTSD. How trauma is processed varies depending on the individual.

The Relationship Between Psychological Trauma and Substance Abuse
Psychology is a science that studies human behaviour and behavioural patterns.
Most human behaviour is learned behaviour.  This is true of ( drug )addictive behaviour as well.  Psychological research has enabled us to understand how people know to engage in unhealthy behaviour.  More importantly, this research helps us understand how people can unlearn behaviour.
Another psychological cause of addiction is people's thoughts and beliefs.  This is because much of our behaviour originates from our views and opinions.  This includes addictive behaviours.  For instance, if someone believes that recovery is not possible, it is highly improbable, they will put forth any effort to quit.  Psychologists have developed techniques to help people change their thoughts and beliefs.  Their feelings and behaviour subsequently change, as well. 
Another psychological cause of addiction is a person's developmental maturity.  The capacity to align our actions with our beliefs and values separates mature human beings from immature ones.  This capacity ultimately distinguishes human beings from other species. If we routinely act without thinking and instead act according to every craving, whim, or impulse, we perform at the developmental level of a two-year-old child. Addictions like drug addiction can occur because someone lacks this developmental maturity.  They may be very self-focused and intent on following impulsive desires without regard to the consequences.  Psychotherapy can be considered a form of accelerated development.  Therefore, it can be beneficial for people attempting to recover from alcoholism or other addictions.
Psychology has also helped us understand why people find it challenging to discontinue unhealthy behaviour like drug use.   People may find recovery difficult because they lack good problem-solving skills and sufficient motivation.  Drug addiction can also occur to cope with uncomfortable feelings or stress.  Psychotherapy can strengthen people's motivation and improve their problem-solving skills, stress reduction skills, and coping skills.
Many people who have experienced psychological trauma turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. A variety of substances can make a user feel numbed, empowered, or calm, for instance – all of which are sensations that might be rarely experienced during sobriety for those who have suffered psychological trauma. A person who has had psychological trauma might rely on benzodiazepines to feel relief from ongoing anxiety and stimulants. Hence, they think they have the energy and focus on accomplishing that which they believe they cannot perform without the drugs, opioids so they can experience the euphoria that they think is not available to them in a sober state, psychedelics so they can embark on what they might consider being a spiritual journey of self-discovery, alcohol so they find it easier to function and communicate in social settings, marijuana so they can allow themselves to feel relaxed, and so forth.
Each victim of psychological trauma has individual needs that they might turn to drugs for, which can open the door toward drug addiction. This reliance on substances can lead to drug addiction in psychological trauma patients. Before the underlying psychological trauma can effectively be treated, drug addiction must be identified and treated first.

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Causes of Psychological Trauma and Drug Addiction

Substance abuse/drug addiction is often seen in patients who have experienced psychological trauma. Nearly 25 per cent of children and adolescents have experienced some trauma. Furthermore, experiencing trauma early in life increases a person's susceptibility to drug addiction. A person is also more susceptible to drug addiction if they experience any trauma, whether early in life or later.
Psychological trauma and drug addiction can occur in any person, regardless of age, gender, religion, class, or other factors. However, a person is more likely to experience drug addiction if family members are addicted to drugs as an addiction like this can be hereditary. Friends who are addicted to drugs can also increase a person's susceptibility for drug addiction because friends can be highly influential, especially for a person who is already plagued by self-doubt and low self-esteem.
A person might suffer more intensely from psychological trauma if they have demonstrably low levels of cortisol or other abnormalities in the HPA axis, low serotonin levels, altered levels of dopamine, and disturbances norepinephrine system, or brain abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus or amygdala.
Other reasons include, Poverty, unemployment, lack of recreational facilities, being surrounded by substance abusers, long shifts at work, high stress as a result of a combination of unemployment and family problems, boredom and work pressures were also mentioned as factors contributing to substance abuse.

Treatment
Two Trauma-Focused Models for Addiction Treatment:
Seeking Safety
Seeking safety is an evidence-based, present-focused counselling model designed to help people attain security from further trauma and substance use. For more information, visit Seeking Safety (used in Hazelden Betty Ford's COR-12 program).
 
Trauma, Addiction, Mental Health, and Recovery (TAMAR)
Developed as part of the first phase of the SAMHSA Women, Co-Occurring Disorders and Violence Study, the TAMAR Education Project is a structured, manualized 10-week intervention combining psycho-educational approaches with expressive treatments.
A dual diagnosis of co-occurring drug addiction and psychological trauma can be challenging. The most effective treatment for this combined condition is explicitly cared designed to target both psychological traumas and drug addiction. This kind of therapy might involve psychotherapy and medication. Medication might help treat some of the symptoms of psychological trauma, like panic attacks or depression. Medication might also help treat drug addiction, depending on the substance or substances the person is addicted to – for instance, methadone might be used for a person addicted to heroin.
A treatment plan tailored to the individual and utilized daily, or at least with regular frequency, is key to recovery from this dual diagnosis condition.
There is hope out there for those who have undergone severe psychological trauma. Although it might seem to solve immediate problems related to psychological trauma, drug addiction worsens the trauma in the end. For this reason, appropriate treatment must be sought immediately.