In 2018, 156 courageous young women testified against the former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. He was found guilty of sexual abuse and sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. These women were able to get justice, but the trauma he left in his wake is something they will continue to face for years to come. While the trial brought greater awareness to sexual abuse and the bravery of survivors, more work needs to be done on how people cope with trauma.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is your body’s response to a distressing event that overwhelms your ability to cope. A traumatizing even can be anything – sexual abuse, completing a military tour or surviving a car accident. These types of events tend to trigger panic, helplessness and insecurity.
Trauma does not discriminate and can happen to anyone. In fact, trauma occurs more often than you might think. The World Health Organization found that roughly one third of people they surveyed across 70 countries experienced trauma.
Defining Acute Trauma
Acute trauma is caused by a single traumatic event in your life. For example, a car accident or being a victim of a crime are classic cases of acute trauma. The shock of that one event is so strong that it leaves a lasting impression on your mental health.
People who experience acute trauma are also more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some of the most common symptoms of acute trauma include:
- Intense anxiety and panic
- Feeling disconnected from yourself and your surroundings
- Problems falling and staying asleep
- Confusion and irritability
- Distrust towards people
The Connection Between Acute Trauma and Addiction
Acute trauma can change the way your brain copes with stress. People who have experienced acute trauma often feel more isolated and depressed. To escape these feelings, many turn to drugs and alcohol to feel some sort of relief.
Unfortunately, the connection between acute trauma and addiction is a two-way street. Acute trauma increases your risk for developing a substance abuse disorder – and your high-risk behavior caused by substance abuse can lead to additional traumatic events.
It’s natural to want to escape the feelings of anxiety and shame your trauma is causing. However, looking for comfort in drugs and alcohol can trap you in a cycle of stress and depression.
Defining Chronic Trauma
Chronic trauma is the result of a reoccurring traumatic event. Ongoing sexual abuse or living in a home with domestic violence are common examples. The emotional pain from chronic trauma often lasts much longer and unlike acute trauma, the symptoms of chronic trauma can stay dormant for years.
Living with chronic trauma is a challenge, since it has the potential to change your behaviors. For example, if you don’t seek treatment for your chronic trauma, you have a higher risk of substance abuse.
Linking Chronic Trauma to Substance Abuse
For many people suffering from chronic trauma, the repetitive mental and emotional strain can become too much to bear. The desire to break free of these feelings gets to be so strong that they turn to drugs and alcohol as a respite. Substance abuse is seen as a good solution for people with chronic trauma, as it is a way for them to numb their pain.
Despite the short-term benefits, though, substance abuse can make your chronic trauma more difficult to cope with. One of your best solutions is to find a dual diagnosis treatment center. Addiction and mental health treatment centers like Fountain Hills Recovery can help you overcome your trauma and addiction.
Discover Healing for Your Addiction and Trauma
At Fountain Hills Recovery, we know what trauma and addiction can do to your life. As Arizona’s premier dual diagnosis treatment center, we can help you heal from your trauma and regain a sober life.
Aside from offering addiction rehab services, we also provide patients with expert psychiatric treatment. It’s our goal to treat the primary cause of both your mental health and substance abuse disorders, instead of just the symptoms. With this comprehensive approach, we can help you find lasting sobriety and happiness.
If you’re ready to reclaim your life from trauma and addiction, contact us today. Our team is here for you and ready to support your recovery journey.