How Single-Event Trauma Can Lead to Addiction

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on May 19, 2020.

Sometimes, a single event can change the course of your life. If this event is a traumatic one, it can impact how you see the world and create emotions that are difficult to process on your own. Too often, instead of getting professional help for trauma, individuals turn to drugs or alcohol to mute their emotional suffering. Understanding the link between single-event trauma and substance abuse may give you the strength you need to fight back and take control of your life.

If you or someone you love is battling an addiction born out of trauma, read on to find out more about breaking free.

How Can Trauma Lead to Addiction?

Unresolved trauma and addiction is a vicious cycle. Just one moment can have a severe and immediate impact on your physical and emotional health. Single-event trauma is a traumatic experience that happens to a person in a specific incident. In that moment, your life may feel threatened or out of control. There are many examples of this, and some of the most common single-event traumatic experiences include:

  • Sexual assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Victim of a crime
  • Physical assault
  • Physical injury
  • Natural disaster
  • Auto accident
  • Death of a loved one

Too often, individuals hide these traumatic experiences due to shame, only increasing the severity of the trauma. However, it is also possible to be met with uncaring or unsympathetic reactions if a person tries to share their experience with others. The event may also be downplayed, which can make the person feel stupid or silly for a truly valid emotional response.

Whether you hide your traumatic experience or attempt to share it with an indifferent listener, these situations only amplify the negative impact of the initial event. Your suffering can lead to changes in your body and mind. Many people become unable to bear the weight of this burden and turn to drugs or alcohol for comfort.

Single-Event Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Everyone responds to traumatic events in different ways. While some people may find it relativity easy to handle the stress and emotions of a trauma, others may be impacted more acutely. The problems caused by a single trauma can contribute to a mental health problem known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This condition is often associated with members of the armed forces returning from active duty where their lives or safety were in jeopardy.

Some of the characteristics commonly associated with PTSD include:

  • Agitations
  • Isolation
  • Severe anxiety
  • Mistrust
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Reliving the traumatic event
  • Unwanted thoughts
  • Emotional detachment
  • And more

These intrusive behavioral and emotional side effects can eventually become much to deal with, and individuals with PTSD may turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication.

Simultaneous Treatment for Unresolved Trauma and Addiction

At Diamond House Detox, we understand how the trauma of a single moment can impact your life and lead to addiction. That's why we're proud to provide a safe and caring environment where you can receive treatment both for the trauma you've experienced and your substance abuse disorder. With the help of our highly individualized trauma therapy, you'll soon realize that your emotional response was valid and that you are not alone.

Please don't let the tragedy of a single event trap you in a cycle of substance abuse. Break free with the help of the medical professionals at Diamond House Detox. Contact us today to learn more.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
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