Updated: Jan 11
What are the signs that trauma might be affecting someone?
There are different types of trauma. Below is a list of the most common traumatic events:
· Physical assault
· Sexual assault
· Domestic violence
· Emotional or verbal abuse
· Parental neglect
· Bullying or ongoing harassment
· Accidents, like car crashes or fire
· Natural disasters
· Terminal illness
Trauma is more than a negative experience. These events or series of circumstances are considered traumatic, especially since they can have lasting effects on your mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. Fortunately, not everyone will experience adverse experiences. Nevertheless, these experiences do impact individuals in different ways. For example, people who have suffered childhood trauma may experience a wide range of side effects, both psychological and behavioral. Some may experience one or more of the following symptoms as a result of the trauma:
· Dramatic mood shifts
· Erratic behavior
· Excessive or inappropriate displays of emotions
· Ongoing fear, nervousness or anxiety
· Prolonged agitation or irritability
· Lack of confidence (timidity)
· Eating disorders
· Avoiding things that remind you of your traumatic experience
· Continually reliving the event
· Problems with how you relate with others in your professional life
· Romantic and social relationship issues
Unfortunately, those who sustain traumatic experiences in their childhood are also at too high risk of developing addictive behaviors.
What is the connection between addictions and trauma?
Trauma causes high-stress levels because your mind and body see this event as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening. Stress triggers the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline — the same hormones that handle your body's fight-or-flight response.
Some people have a hard time turning off the constant fight-or-flight response in the body. To cope or numb the pain, some people engage in behaviors that mask their feelings. Some of these behaviors can be addictive. These negative addictive behaviors include but are not limited to drugs, alcohol, sexual addiction, food addiction, or bad relationships.
Everything your body and mind engage in, both good and bad, causes the brain's neurons to grow, change, or even break, depending on the necessary adjustments that will keep you functioning. The brain can, quite literally, rewire itself to allow you to continue functioning. What does this have to do with trauma and addiction recovery? In the search to finding a way to function after trauma, some engage in activities that create strong neuron connections. When the activity or behavior is repeated and utilized over time, it becomes addictive. Due to its plasticity, your brain can respond and adapt to anything that you experience during your life. Brain plasticity is why the things you experience in your childhood follow you into adolescence and adulthood. They shape how you think, behave, and react to people and situations.
As many as two-thirds of all individuals with addictions experienced some form of trauma during their childhood. In the fight against addiction, it is common for many to feel lonely, hopeless, and alienated. They may experience nightmares, insomnia, and chronic anger or fatigue as well.
Is addiction a disease?
It is essential to understand the definition of disease and addiction. Many have come to believe that addiction is a disease. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual's life experiences. However, what is the definition of DISEASE? According to Day and Montoya (2019), the problems of what a disease is or where it is located are only compounded in psychological diseases, which are often difficult to diagnose, with generalized signs and symptoms indicative of any number of possible illnesses. "Psychological diseases accentuate the social and cultural contingencies involved in disease classification and treatment, since their dispositions and affordances may be spread throughout the 'social body' of an individual" (Day & Montoya, 2019).
Addiction is an intense focus, craving, or engagement on behavior, thought, or feeling derived from temptation despite negative physical, social, spiritual, and mental consequences. Addiction is a behavior that controls you! Addiction may cause diseases and damage many systems – The body system, family system, and environment. However, it's challenging to identify addiction as merely a disease. The disease appears more to be the consequences of addiction than that it is a disease itself. The way addiction is defined is vital because it can determine treatment choices, methods, and outcomes.
How do you know you have an addiction?
Engaging in pleasurable activity is not inherently wrong unless it is done temperately. Here are some questions to ask yourself to see whether the activity you are involved in is intemperately addictive.
How important is this activity? How important has it become to your sense of self and the way you live your life? Have you prioritized it over people, work, or spiritual life?
What reward response to this activity? Does doing it make you feel better, more in control? Does not doing it make you feel worse?
Is it taking over your life? Do you find yourself doing it more often and for more extended periods than you originally planned?
Are you losing your self-control? Do you feel anxious or uncomfortable if you cannot do it or think about not doing it?
Is it interrupting your life? Has it disrupted or endangered your life, relationships, or health?
Do you find that you cannot stop yourself even when you try? Do you often say to yourself you're going to do something different but then turn around and keep doing the same thing—or doing it even more?
If you answer yes or agreeing to any of these questions, then addiction is a problem. Addiction is a behavior that controls you. Your temptations, impulses, pleasures, anxieties, fears, and preferences have taken center stage over your better judgment or reasoned decisions.
If you believe you are struggling with an addiction that is negatively impacting your life, it may be time to seek assistance.
What are the seven steps to breaking away from the addiction that follows trauma?
Here are seven steps to break away from the addiction that follows trauma.
Identify and acknowledge your addiction.
Confess and ask forgiveness from those you may have hurt due to the addiction – Consider who those people are (i.e., family, friends, and God.)
Realize your weakness and need for help. When you surrender your will to God, you will soon realize you are not alone. His strength will help you to overcome it day by day. Read the book Step to Christ, which beautifully outlines how to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Fast and prayer. Separate yourself from the addiction by spending much time in prayer.
Set accountabilities. Plan your success. Find accountability partner, monitor daily success goals, and replace time with new healthy activities.
Testify often on every victory by sharing your progress with others. Tell others your small and significant accomplishments. You can also keep your successes in a gratitude journal.
Be prepared to help others. There are so many who are also struggling with addictions. Find ways to help them overcome their addictions by sharing your story of victory.
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (n.d.). ASAM Definition of Addiction. Retrieved December 27, 2020, from https://www.asam.org/Quality-Science/definition-of-addiction
Day, R.E. & Montoya, R.D. (2019). 'What is (a) disease?' Disease as events and
access to information. In Proceedings of CoLIS, the Tenth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 16-19, 2019. Information Research, 24(4), paper colis1920. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/24-4/colis/colis1920.html (Archived by the Internet Archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20191217173816/http://informationr.net/ir/24-4/colis/colis1920.html)