The Link Between Addiction And Trauma

Across multiple psychological models, addiction is often portrayed as a way of self-medication and fighting mood disorders.

When used as a defensive strategy, it can make it difficult to quit. Because the relief from pain provided by substances is temporary, people would have to continue using it to extend the relief. This then creates a cycle that represents the persistent nature of addiction disorders and attitudes.

The affects of addiction disorders vary through many areas of everyday life, influencing the way we regulate our emotions, maintain self-esteem, take part in self-care procedures, and even the way we seek and carry our relationships. Even though addiction disorders are common across roughly 50% of people who seek mental health treatment, the addiction disorder itself is often not mentioned in the initial presentation.

There are high correlations between people who use substances in an excessive manner, and people with narcissistic personalities. Generally, people who are shown to have personality disorders are more likely to have increased levels of addiction, therefore affecting the effectiveness of addiction treatments.

People use certain substances such as psychoactive drugs to try and make intolerable feelings a little more tolerable. Because the effect of each substance is specific, the choice of substance usually depends on the emotion that is felt most heavily.

For example, opiates provide an increase in ‘calm’ and ‘normal’ feelings, while stimulants are used to counter low energy and negative feelings such as low self-worth and feeling unloved. Stimulants may also be used by higher energy personalities, to create an extended state of enthusiasm and energy to battle depression. Sedatives, such as alcohol, can be used in low doses to fight off feelings of isolation, therefore increasing sociability. On the other hand, if used in high doses, can then drown, or decrease negative feelings such as seclusion.

Here are some ways in which people who are prone to addiction experience their lives

  • Sudden bursts of anger, usually associated with the sense of falling apart.
  • Feelings often alternate between depression and being demanding.
  • Feelings and emotions that were given relief from by substances usually come back even stronger when withdrawal is abrupt.

The patterns in our thinking also play a crucial part in the denial and justifying habits that further support the addiction. For example, suggesting that our addiction may not be as ‘severe’ as others, along with the confidence that we could stop the substance use at any given time, if we wanted to.

Relationships are also often affected by addiction disorders. Relationship patterns tend to fluctuate between feelings of being needy, followed by denying being needy. To both the substance-dependant persons in the relationship, it may also feel as though the relationship is untrustworthy, disappointing, and unfulfilling. Regularly, partners who suggest seeking help or treatment are pushed aside and disregarded.

That said, it is important that we keep in mind that many people who are involved with the misuse of substances often see themselves as having lost control of their lives, and therefore is helpless. This can often generate intense feelings of anger and despair.