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Addiction is often a way of attempting to cope with emotional and psychological pain. It is a familiar and learned coping mechanism that can keep you away from addressing the root cause of  trauma.


Causes of Addiction

The ACE study has shown that childhood trauma, such as child neglect and abuse, is the most (preventable) cause of mental illness and addiction. If you grow up in a loving home, where your needs are honored and you feel emotionally and physically safe, where you feel deeply connected to others and well taken care of, you are less likely to engage in harmful behaviors in the future, numb yourself or need to escape reality. Now, that is not to say that child neglect and abuse are the only causes of addiction. Any type of trauma, at any time, can cause you to develop maladaptive coping mechanisms which lead to addiction. Growing up in a family with generational addiction can also make you believe that addiction is normal, just another part of life.

The Truth About Addiction

It is important to know that addiction is the temporary solution to your trauma. Sometimes people are in denial about their trauma because there is shame that a certain “small” situation could create such a huge emotional impact. Sometimes trauma occurs when individuals were very young, in the important formative years of their life, but they have no recollection of those years. These are all traumas and they can add up over time. Please know that anything overwhelming to your nervous system is trauma, no matter how big or small. And trauma, no matter how big or small, can have big impacts on your life.

Breaking Free From Addiction

People who have experienced trauma block their pain. One of the causes for relapses for addicts is that as they get sober, their memories return. Instead of facing the pain (usually with no skills to self soothe in a healthy way), they start using again. By using you are trying to block your trauma. The compulsive efforts to self soothe, avoid negative feelings, feel something better might work temporarily. But then the brain adjusts. And you will need more just to feel normal. You may even switch to another addiction, but the cycle will continue. Addiction recovery should include connection with self, the world and others. It should also include resolving past traumas. Please note, addiction can also be to food, sex, video games, gambling, exercising, etc. It does not only include substances.

Addiction Therapy Healing

Oftentimes, due to not developing nervous system regulation tools in childhood, it can be incredibly difficult to face these childhood traumas head on. Reaching out to a therapist well trained in addiction can greatly expedite your healing journey. It’s important that you work with a licensed psychotherapist specializing in trauma work and with lots of experience. Attachment Focused EMDR is an excellent modality for healing. Reach out to a therapist in your area today to start your journey towards ending the addiction cycle.