Trauma and Addiction

Childhood Trauma and its link to addiction….

I have to say I find it shocking that in the last decade these two disorders are just being connected! The two have very tied links as most trauma survivors have a predilection to addiction to say the least. I am not a counselor, but as someone with a family tree full of addicts who can attest to the fact that most of their addictions began after a major trauma, I can say they are linked. But seeing as how my personal journey has involved childhood trauma I would like to focus there.

Early traumas affect the ways adults process and deal with stress. Abuse affects the same areas in the prefrontal cortex that provide the want for addicts to use. This part of the brain is greatly developed by your environment. The negative disruptions from continuous stress on a child, over time, can cause disruption in the development of the brain instead of growing properly. These misgrowths leave us vulnerable to a substance use disorder. It’s important to remember that children are limited in their ability to make contextual inferences that would likely allow them to process these experiences more effectively.

From personal experience, I can tell you, as a child I could not process or understand what was happening to me or why. I could not process it so I medicated myself with drugs and alcohol to just be ok with the things that had taken place. As of now, I am almost 40 and just beginning to understand after nearly 7 years of sobriety, how the 2 were intertwined. I should have sought help long ago for both issues. Not that it sincerely matters when you decide to make these changes, to reopen Pandora’s box and allow all these dark images, memories, and feelings to surge through you finally, it just matters that you do. And please don’t feel as if it’s too much. There are so many more of us out there who have done this, who are doing these things to rid themselves of the demons left behind.



Action Plan

      This is an action plan template. I put this in to help direct you in creating your own. I would start off by journaling. Go back thru your journal writings and pull out what seems to be an issue that you would like to change. For example – I wrote 3 times this week that I was overeating. So I will weigh myself now and see where I am. If I am over where I would like to be, I set a goal. No junk food this week and I weighed out portions. But I don’t have a scale.
So I must wait until Friday to get paid to weigh exactly so until then I will visually cut down my portion. Friday I purchase the scale and accurately weigh out my portions. Monday comes and it’s time to weigh in again. Let’s say my eyeballing was off and I have still not hit the weight I’m looking for. I keep trying. Let’s see what 1 solid week of portion control looks like. We get back on the scale the following Monday and poof we are where we wanted to be!
Now you don’t stop, but instead, continue which creates a healthy habit. By the end of your second week, you are pretty used to weighing out your food so you continue. But let’s say now you want a new pair of jeans for the body you took the weight off of. Let’s say those jeans are $60 and you can only afford $20. Then either find something cheaper and accessible or create a new goal a financial one, to save $20 per week until you can buy the jeans.
Or if not and the next week comes, and your weight is once again different from where you want it to be. DO NOT GIVE UP!!! Maybe it’s not your portion but something else you may need to try to get to your goal. Like portion control alone didn’t work, so let’s try a keto diet with portion control and see what happens. Continue in this fashion until you hit all the points in your life you feel you personally can change and address. This is not an easy or short process, but a great one for achieving your goals which create your dreams.

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     “Just be careful they could walk all over you.” One quick simple phrase and poof, I 360 to an angry monster that hides beneath the surface and pretty facade. I flip out in defense then flee not to hear the response of my overreaction. I sit alone for 30 minutes or so. Then I see the trigger. Around 30 minutes later comes the apology and explanation. 

      It sucks because you have to be bare and explain what (in my case) my husband, had just witnessed. Then comes the explanation, there were so many times in my life when people walked all over me, touched me, and took advantage of me and I could not stop it. More than anything in life (to me) I will never be there again. 

      Clearly, my husband was not talking about this but my over-extending myself. Not that I didn’t know this but those words sent such a wave of strong anger through me that by the time I had realized it, it was too late.  Then he tries so hard and apologizes for his use of words. I get it but to me why should he need to? These are my triggers, my issues. 

     Then an overwhelming amount of guilt comes because once again my triggers have affected us. Why’s begin, why is it like this? Why can’t you stop it? You were doing so well. Then comes the what if’s, like, what if this never ends? What if I embarrass myself or us due to this? What if he gets tired of it? 

     Then he pulls me close and again a wave of emotion takes me over but this time it’s grief. I sob uncontrollably as I shake in his arms. I begin to slowly breathe in hopes of backing this down. He holds me tighter to secure me. And the panic attack stops slowly as the waves become slower and further apart. 

     In all of that, no words were exchanged. He gave me security and allowed me to process what was happening. I am blessed to have a superhero as a husband. The next day for the first time, I knew I was wrong I knew there were things that God and I need to discuss. But no guilt and no shame. Just correction. 

      This morning I kept thinking of all the people that have triggers and can not understand them or someone who doesn’t have the support I do. Please reach out, to anyone who makes you feel safe. And if there is no one then here I am. You are not alone. 


Nicole Banner