2/3 of All Addicts Experience Trauma
One of the most common statements made to undermine the nature of addiction is, that, it was their (the addict's) choice to pick up drugs in the first place. However, freedom of choice is a misnomer. In fact, 75% of individuals who use drugs and alcohol in their teenage years will not become addicts in their lifetime. If an individual chooses not to use drugs or alcohol until their brain has fully developed, then there is a 93% chance those individuals will not become addicts in their lifetimes. Therefore, it is clear from the data that there is something more to the ongoing abuse of drugs and alcohol for some individuals than for others since many people pick up drugs as a choice and willfully never use again.
The above being said, many people choose to use drugs and alcohol, but no one actively chooses to use drugs and alcohol with the intended volition of becoming an addict. Often times young adults use drugs and alcohol to numb underlying issues such as a past traumatic experiene. Generally speaking, most trauma survivors use drugs and alcohol as a mechanism for achieving safety and control. Unlike core feelings such as anger and fear that can be resolved with time, trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that is stuck in time, and drugs and alcohol can offer an immediate escape.
For example, an individual who was physically abused as a child may be walking down an arbitrary street one day and then, all of a sudden, something triggers his or her past trauma experience. The revisting of that traumatic event can potentially lead to increased anxiety and panic attacks. Without proper coping mechanisms a person can quickly feel unsafe in many different surroundings.
Studies show that about 2/3 of all addicts have previously experienced some type of physical or sexual trauma during childhood. At Peaks Recovery Centers we believe that addiction manifests itself differently for both men and women. We actively seek the underlying causal mechanisms that have lead them toward the destructive behaviors associated with addiction and unmanaged trauma. The more we can teach young adults about implementing healthy coping mechanims the less our clients will desire drugs and alcohol as a tool for managing post-traumatic stressors.