Trauma and Substance Abuse
Research demonstrates a strong link between exposure to traumatic events and substance use problems. Many people who have experienced child abuse, criminal attack, disasters, war, or other traumatic events turn to alcohol or drugs to help them deal with emotional pain, bad memories, poor sleep, guilt, shame, anxiety, or terror. People with alcohol or drug use problems are more likely to experience traumatic events than those without these problems. Many people find themselves in a vicious cycle in which exposure to traumatic events produces increased alcohol and drug use, which produces new traumatic event experiences, which leads to even worse substance use, and so forth. Just as traumatic events and substance use often occur together, so do trauma-related disorders and substance use disorders. For example, trauma-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, occur frequently among people with substance use disorders and visa versa. Not only do traumarelated and substance use disorders wreak havoc on the person who has them, they also often create major problems for relationships with family members and friends.