Drug Abuse and Trauma

Drug abuse and trauma often go hand-in-hand. Many drug users are the victims of trauma already, and yet the addictions that they are likely to fall into may cause even more trauma. This is part of the vicious cycle of drug addiction, and one of the most difficult barriers on the road to recovery.

In this article, we’ll talk about how drug abuse and trauma are linked together and how understanding these issues can make someone more likely to overcome their addictions.

How Trauma Can Lead to Addiction

One of the main leading causes of addiction is trauma.

Trauma is an emotional issue that arises when a person has to go through an intense experience that they are unable to mentally cope with. Since the mind is incapable of coping with the experience, it is internalized in the body in the form of trauma.

Just because trauma has been internalized, however, does not mean that it is gone. People who suffer from trauma often experience things that can hinder their enjoyment of life, such as:

  • ‘Triggers,’ certain situations, people, or things that cause them to behave erratically or experience anxiety
  • Being unable to enjoy certain activities or certain places without knowing why
  • Feeling that certain memories are blocked off or inaccessible
  • Frequent emotional problems like anxiety, depression, irritability, and similar things

These symptoms can occur alone or in combination with each other. As you can imagine, living with these issues could pose a problem. This means that people who struggle with trauma are more likely to develop drug addictions.

Drugs seem like an easy fix – especially when you consider that most traumatized people don’t actually realize that they’re traumatized. 

Drugs Can Cause Trauma

Not every drug user is traumatized, though – and even those people who begin to use drugs to escape from trauma may find that their addiction leads to even more trauma.

Drug addiction can be traumatic by its nature. Using drugs does not actually provide anyone with new coping mechanisms – though the drugs may provide that illusion. The gritty nature of the drug underworld may lead people into even more experiences that they are unable to mentally cope with – situations that must later be dealt with in the form of trauma.

The compounding trauma that many drug users acquire can make it increasingly difficult to stop using drugs. These traumas may surface soon after they stop using or take a ‘sobriety break,’ only to lead them back into relapse.


There are many things that can cause trauma, and traumatized people are more likely to develop drug addictions. Understanding how trauma works can help struggling drug users overcome their addiction by working through their trauma. A rehab center or counselor can help you understand your trauma better.

Written by Nigel Ford

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