Developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol can relate directly to trauma that occurred in your past or that past of a loved one. A traumatic experience does not always mean it is a recurring experience. Although abuse and neglect are potential traumas that may contribute to substance abuse, a car accident or a one-time traumatic experience like a hit-and-run accident or a robbery can also increase the risk of abusing drugs.

By recognizing the reasons, it is easier to find the right treatment options for your recovery goals.

Attempting to Relax

Although every individual experiences trauma in a different way, it is not uncommon for the event and reminders of the event to cause an increased stress level and overly-sensitive awareness of your surroundings. You may be jumpy, nervous or anxious after a traumatic experience.

For some individuals, the goal of using drugs or alcohol is to relax the mind and body. Over time, that relaxation develops into a physical dependency.

Trying to Concentrate

Trauma can make it difficult to concentrate, particularly if the task is tedious or repetitive. Depending on your work and the details of your lifestyle, that may interfere in your plans.

In some cases, substances are abused in an attempt to improve concentration. The substances that may be abused if that is the case are usually stimulants. As the body adjusts to the dosage, it may take more of the drug to cause the same improvement in concentration. After using the substance several times, you may develop a physical and emotional dependency on the substance.

Dealing with Fears

Trauma can take many different forms, including the development of fears.
Traumatic experiences that may develop into fears may include:

  • Being the victim of a physical assault
  • Being the victim of abuse
  • Facing an emotional or verbal assault
  • Being the victim of a one-time crime like robbery
  • Going through a severe car accident
  • Being in a plane when it crashed

Whether it was a one-time event or a recurring trauma, fears may develop if the situation was chaotic or particularly frightening. In some cases, substance abuse develops in an attempt to soothe or calm those fears.

Self-Medicating for Emotional Pain

Some trauma may not relate to your emotional state beyond basic fears, anger or confusion. If the case of neglect or abuse that occurred several times, the emotional scars may be worse than the physical scars.
Self-medicating refers to any attempt to use drugs or alcohol to help reduce the emotional pain. Instead of seeking professional help, the individual uses drugs or alcohol to reduce those emotional feelings.

Mood Control

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that may develop after a traumatic experience. One of the potential problems that can develop is mood swings or irritable moods. Attempting to re-balance your mood may contribute to the development of chemical dependency because you take the substance when you feel angry, irritable or depressed.

Trauma can impact your life in ways that you may not expect, including the development of substance abuse, chemical dependency and an addiction. When you or a loved one have been through a traumatic experience, it is important to seek help so that you can make the chaotic thought processes a little easier to understand and accept.