To be addicted to a substance is truly to be enslaved by that substance. The substance controls you. But that also means the people who provide that substance control you, in a way. And you are also a slave to seeking money so that you can buy the substance, even if that means stealing to get the money. You essentially become enslaved to everything having to do with getting and using that substance. The substance (and everything connected to it) controls you.
The cycle of addiction begins as a response to a stressful problem (getting drunk to avoid dealing with a bad job, running to get away from a bad marriage) or as an attempt to produce certain feelings (as Harvard psychologist David McClelland and his coworkers showed, many men feel a sense of power while drunk).
These feelings, in turn, lead into a cycle that makes the addiction harder to escape. For example, a man who abuses his family when he is drunk may feel disgusted with himself when he sobers up—so he gets drunk again to boost his self-esteem.
Soon the addictive experience feeds on itself. It becomes central to the person’s life, and it becomes a trap.
While most alcoholics/ addicts want to escape from facing their harsh realities and trauma. They fail to realise that they are now enslaved by a substance which not slowly destroys them , but their families too,
In addiction, moderation is lost, and what initially starts as something more pleasurable, with few, if any, consequences (like substance use, sex, pornography, impulsive eating…) eventually shifts into the primary source of conflict infiltrating numerous aspects of one’s life. What distinguishes addiction from a ‘problem behavior,’ is the brain becomes rewired to view the addiction (i.e. alcohol/drug(s)/behavior(s) as an essential survival mechanism rather than the ‘thing’ that has spiraled out of control.
Trauma, including adverse childhood experiences, is a major cause of substance abuse/addictions.
Trauma can be defined differently for everyone, and the presence of trauma can at times lead toward addiction.
Trauma and addiction are often co-occurring disorders, and need to be treated as such.
Trauma is the natural effect that happens when our body is in such a heightened state of stress that we are unable to process an experience in a typical manner. Trauma then, is less about the event and more about how the memory is processed within the brain, due to the stress level of the body at the time of the experience.
What may result in trauma for one person may or may not result in trauma for another.
Trauma Creates a State of Discomfort that Fosters an Urge to Escape
Our emotions and our body sensations give us tremendous information and cues about our presence in our environment. After trauma, the body enters a more constant state of hyper arousal and it alters the stress, threat response. This can lead to hyper vigilance and even feelings of being ‘crazy.’
An event that you cognitively may recognize to be a low threat situation can spark a loud threat response in the body (rapid heart rate, feelings of panic…).
The body is not intended live in this constant state of arousal and will learn how to disconnect from its physical, emotional and even cognitive experiences. The exhaustion of living in such a state of stress, can lead to the desperation to numb out, check out, or change the way you are feeling… all of which are desires fueling addiction. Addiction becomes all about seeking the drug or behavior that fosters the addiction – this tunnel vision creates the ultimate way to numb out, checkout.
1 in 5 children grow up in a home where a parent abuses drugs or alcohol. Witnessing the trauma of a parent suffering addiction at a young age has long-term effects on the child. Children growing up seeing a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to develop substance use disorders in their adulthood. They are also 3 times more likely being neglected, physically, and sexually abused. Seeing a parent on drugs often creates distressing emotions which not only create delays in learning and development, but pronged mental and emotional disorders.
Since children are still developing their personalities and are vulnerable to external influences, they run the risk of repeating such behaviors. Children may be exposed to aggression or violent behavior due to a parent or both parent’s drug use. Arguments between parents may be normal, causing the child emotional distress as they witness family members fighting.
Early exposure to a home divided by drug use can cause the child to feel emotionally and physically neglected and unsafe. As a result, they can become more mentally and emotionally unstable. Children may develop extreme guilt and self-blame for a parent’s substance abuse. They may develop feelings of unworthiness for disturbances around the home or develop dysfunctional attachments in their adulthood. In extreme cases, children can be removed from the home and placed in foster care.
The effects of drug and alcohol addiction can be both short-term and long-term. Peaceful, loving homes can be divided by the strain caused by drug and alcohol abuse. Conflict becomes normal as family members fight to engage in a son or daughter who abuses heroin, for example. Trust begins to erode. Relatives may become more guarded if a relative abusing illicit substances acts with aggression or hides their disorder in secrecy. Marriages can end due to changes caused by addiction. Communication becomes more difficult, highlighting frustration.