Traumatic experiences during childhood can often lead to addictions to alcohol and other substances during adulthood.
Traumatic experiences during childhood can often lead to addictions to alcohol and other substances during adulthood. In fact, about 90 percent of women who are addicted to alcohol were physically or sexually abused as children, according to the National Trauma Consortium.
Alcohol can help women who experienced childhood trauma to escape from emotions associated with that trauma. Alcohol can help to numb feelings and stop any anxiety, depression or fear that developed as a result of the trauma.
However, what these women may not realize is that alcohol prevents them from dealing in a healthy way with what actually occurred. While the alcohol may help women to mask feelings associated with their trauma, an alcohol addiction can wreak havoc on their lives and cause them to constantly re-traumatize themselves through their actions.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Women who have experienced trauma during childhood may not realize that they have developed an addiction to alcohol as a result of that trauma. Their dependency on alcohol may have started soon after the trauma occurred and become a “normal” part of their everyday lives.
Women who experienced trauma should be aware of the following signs of an alcohol addiction to determine if addiction treatment is needed:
- A continued compulsion to drink, even if it’s causing other problems
- A tolerance to alcohol that requires increased amounts of alcohol to be consumed in order to have the intended effect
- An inability to limit or control drinking
- A lack of interest in activities that don’t involve alcohol
- A reliance on alcohol to function
Physical dependence on alcohol is also a symptom of an alcohol addiction. That means withdrawal symptoms will set in if the user attempts to decrease or stop her alcohol use. Withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shakiness or trembling
For most people who have experienced trauma, finally dealing with the traumatic experience and its consequences can be both scary and challenging. Residential treatment centers such as Sober Living by the Sea in Newport Beach, Calif., offer women who have suffered from trauma the chance to address it in a safe and supportive environment.
Through individual and group therapy, women can safely work through their trauma while also addressing their alcohol addiction. Treating both at the same time allows for a more comprehensive understanding of both the trauma and addiction, and a better chance for a life-long recovery from both.
In addition to an alcohol addiction, trauma can also lead women to experience many of the following as ways to cope:
- Eating disorders
- Compulsive risk-taking behaviors, such as a gambling or sexual addiction
- Self-harm and cutting
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts
Residential treatment centers such as The Rose can address these co-occurring conditions and their relationship to trauma so that recovery from one means recovery from all.