Why Identifying Trauma Is Important

Why Identifying Trauma Is Important

People struggling with substance abuse, such as hydrocodone addiction, often have a history that involves some form of trauma. The trauma could stem from early childhood or it could be very recent. Addiction treatment that fails to uncover and address a history of trauma is typically ineffective. Many addictions have an underlying root cause and a traumatic experience can be just that. If the underlying root cause of the addiction is not successfully identified and properly treated, the addiction treatment will likely fail.

How Trauma Affects Addiction

There are many forms of trauma that people can experience that that may contribute to the underlying root cause of their addiction. Some of the different types of commonly experienced trauma that can affect addiction recovery can include the following:

  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Severe child neglect
  • Serious accidents or injuries
  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Exposure or recruitment into gang related violence
  • School violence such as bullying or school shootings
  • Natural disasters
  • War related violence or terrorism
  • Witnessing a homicide or suicide
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Traumatic experiences within foster care

Any of these experiences could occur in early childhood or in adulthood and have lasting effects that lead to substance abuse and addiction. These traumatic experiences can also prevent people from successfully overcoming addiction even after completing a professional rehab program. The link between trauma and substance abuse has been heavily researched resulting in the following statistics:

  • More than 25 percent of people who survive abuse or violence develop problems with alcoholism
  • Between 10 and 33 percent of people who have survived a major accident, illness or natural disaster report having abused alcohol
  • Being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increases the risk of developing an alcohol abuse disorder
  • Female trauma survivors are at an increased risk for developing an alcohol abuse disorder
  • Both female and male survivors of sexual abuse experience a higher rate of drug and alcohol abuse disorders than those who have not experienced sexual abuse

Substance abuse and addiction is essentially seen as a simple coping mechanism for people struggling with unresolved trauma either in their childhood or in recent years. In cases like this, the unresolved trauma becomes the major problem that needs to be treated rather than the addiction. A person is very unlikely to experience success in overcoming addiction when it is used as a coping mechanism to deal with unresolved trauma. If a person is treated for addiction but still has unresolved trauma issues he or she will fall right back into substance abuse and addiction.1

Treatment for Trauma and Addiction

People struggling with trauma and addiction will likely not find success in a run of the mill rehab program. Dual Diagnosis programs and other specialized rehab facilities can adequately assess the needs of every individual client and determine a tailored plan. Specialized treatment is characterized by treatment that provides a customized plan to meet the specific needs of the individual client rather than a one size fits all approach. Specialized treatment programs will provide multiple assessments to uncover trauma and adjust the plan accordingly as it progresses. The program will offer a problem solving approach to dealing with the trauma as well as the addiction.2

A trauma focused treatment program recognizes that the trauma is not simply one single event that needs to be resolved. Instead, a traumatic experience shapes and transforms who a person is throughout the remainder of her life. Without guidance from professionals, that traumatic experience can lead people to destructive behavioral patterns such as self-blame, shame, loss of trust in others, seclusion, fear, or an inability to have meaningful or intimate relationships. However, when a person receives necessary counseling to overcome the traumatic event as well as guidance to help change behavioral patterns toward more productive outcomes, he is more likely to overcome addiction and maintain lifelong recovery.

Trauma focused treatment for addiction takes into account that meaningful relationships are difficult to cultivate for people who have experienced certain types of trauma. However, those relationships and support are essential to overcoming addiction and maintaining recovery. The treatment will give focus to helping the client learn to explore relationships more and take steps towards trusting others in an effort to gain support for addiction recovery and create meaningful, long-term relationships. A history of trauma along with addiction can be successfully overcome through professional treatment services.

Need Help Finding Professional Treatment for Substance Abuse or Addiction?

If you or someone you know is struggling with hydrocodone abuse or addiction and needs professional help, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day in order to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Experience what life can be like on the other side of addiction. Call us today.


1 Rosenthal, Michele, “Trauma and Addiction: 7 Reasons Your Habit Makes Perfect Sense,” recovery.org, http://www.recovery.org/pro/articles/trauma-and-addiction-7-reasons-your-habit-makes-perfect-sense/, (March 30, 2015).

2 Promises Treatment Centers, “Complex Trauma Treatment and Trauma-Informed Addiction Therapy,” promises.com, https://www.promises.com/the-experience/trauma-informed-care/, (Cited March 13, 2016).