Why Trauma and Addiction Go Together: You’re Ultimate Guide

Why Trauma and Addiction Go Together: You’re Ultimate Guide

One individual shared their story on Tonic of living with both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction. Here is an excerpt from her story: “This was my experience, again and again, while I was in the mire of addiction. I recall the painful clarity of life after detox; how everything I experienced felt as though it had a sharp edge that was cutting into me.”

This young woman described how challenging it was for her to overcome the trauma that she’d experienced in a relationship for 4 years. For her, opioids became an addiction as they relieved some of the mental and physical pain she was experiencing; in fact, scholars have noted that the trauma we experience isn’t a story about the past – it’s a story about how it lives on within us. For many in addiction recovery, this is the truth.

In 2017, researchers published a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine which sought to explore if there truly is a link between substance use disorders (SUDs) and PTSD. A total of 132 participants were involved in the study, and what they found was shocking: the greater the SUD severity, the greater the severity of life trauma. In addition to this, researchers found that severity of SUD was also associated with the number of stressful life events. This makes sense, as even circumstances such as divorce, moving, arguments with loved ones and major disappointments in life can weigh heavily on our hearts.

As the Huffington Post stated back in 2016, some researchers believe that addictive habits form early on in childhood – in some way, shape, or form, without us realizing it. For those with childhood traumatic experiences, addictive patterns of behavior may develop as an attempt to soothe some of the unsettling symptoms that come with PTSD. For others, trauma comes later on in life after a person has come to depend on substances.  

Trauma and addiction can be connected in many ways, which is why it’s so incredibly important for those in addiction recovery to work with a healthcare team who is trauma-focused. If you are currently struggling with addiction and trauma, know that you’re not alone. With this being such a common phenomenon, know that help is available – and there are many effective tools, resources and support to get you to where you need to be.

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.

Saving Lives; Healing Families.


Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.