Researchers and clinical practitioners have long understood the interplay between trauma, anger, and addiction. In many cases, trauma and anger operate as the root causes of why someone develops an addiction. Remediating someone’s experiences with trauma and anger may be the key to productive recovery. People with childhood trauma are at higher risk of developing a range of mental health and substance abuse disorders. At the same time, anger issues can stem from traumatic experiences or be a symptom of a mental health disorder.
Trauma and Addiction
Trauma is defined as a person’s emotional response to a negative event. Traumatic events trigger immediate reactions like fear, shock, denial, and anger. These events also commonly lead to longer-term impacts like unpredictable emotions, headaches, flashbacks, and damaged relationships. Nearly anything can qualify as a traumatic event if it causes emotional turmoil or damage to a person. Common traumatic experiences include:
- Car accidents
- Experiencing violence
- Sexual assault
- Verbal or physical abuse
- Natural disasters
- Childhood neglect
Trauma often opens the door for people to develop mental health or substance abuse disorders. Many people who experience trauma develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with PTSD are found to be three times more likely than the general population to abuse drugs. Another route into addiction for people carrying trauma is self-medication. The emotional or even physical damage from a traumatic event is difficult to endure. Sometimes the result is that people turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for their trauma.
Anger and Addiction
Anger’s connection to addiction is similar to trauma. In fact, anger is yet another outcome of trauma. For instance, children who grew up around high levels of aggression and violence are more prone to exhibit violent behavior and abuse substances as adults. Simply witnessing violence between parents leaves children predisposed to mental and emotional problems as they are developing, and the end result is often addiction.
In addition, anger issues in adults can themselves be caused by unhealed trauma. Even if the trauma’s origin had nothing to do with anger or violence, the trauma itself has gone years without being addressed and left that person with an anger issue. And just like trauma, anger can easily become an issue that causes people to self-medicate by using drugs.
Ultimately, the connection between trauma, anger, and addiction is this: trauma often results in anger issues, and anger from unhealed trauma often results in addiction.
Trauma Therapy and Healing Addiction
Overcoming addiction whose root cause is trauma or trauma-driven anger focuses on healing the original trauma. Without doing that necessary groundwork, long-term recovery will remain elusive. The goal of trauma therapy is not to help patients forget or block out past trauma. Instead, trauma therapy helps people face their trauma, deal with it in healthy ways, and plan a path forward.
Any therapy used in addiction treatment may be applicable for those looking to overcome their trauma. However, a few therapies are explicitly geared to addressing trauma. One example is exposure therapy. Largely used in treating PTSD, exposure therapy slowly exposes patients to their fears or anxieties without the feared consequences. Over time, patients can move beyond their trauma in a way that no longer causes intense distress at the thought or mention of it. A second example is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is proven highly effective at reducing trauma symptoms.
Georgia Addiction Treatment Center specializes in helping people overcome trauma, work through addiction, and claim the life they’ve always wanted to live. Help is just a call away at 833.641.0661.