Is Opioid Abuse Caused By Childhood Trauma?


Treatment for opioid addiction is heavily emphasized because with drug addiction, there is more than meets the eye. Drug addiction is a multi layered, heavily complex mental health condition that has no one particular cause. For this reason, most treatment centers emphasize treating addiction with a holistic approach which includes therapy, spiritual wellness, physical healing, and developing essential life skills. It would be easier if addiction were simply addiction. Treating it would be much more simple. Many people who are investigating addiction, substance abuse, and rehab treatment for the first time are confused when they read terms like “underlying issues.” Isn’t the only issue here the fact that myself or a loved one of mine is addicted to opioid drugs? For professionals in the space and those who have been in recovery long term, answering no is involuntary. However, new research has started to validate a very common philosophy. Addiction to and dependence upon mind altering substances like opioids is, at least in part, a coping mechanism.

What Do People Have To Use Opioids To Cope With?

When we get hurt, we are trained to ask someone for help. For example, we cry when we fall and hurt ourselves. We ask for ice, we treat any open wound, we elevate, we call a doctor. What happens when we get hurt emotionally? Perhaps we don’t fall but we are pushed, physically abused, sexually traumatized, bullied? Pain can be caused by outside issues and inside issues. Most people aren’t aware of their mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. They live their lives with a certain emotional pain for which they don’t know how to ask for help or be treated. Trauma of any kind and co-occurring mental health conditions which go untreated do not go ignored. Having their own list of side effects, when someone discovers the impulse to abuse opioids and discovers their analgesic effects- numbing of all pain- they find a certain kind of relief. A relief that can become addicting.

According to Science Blog a study from the US conducted by the University of Vermont looked into the link between misuse of opioids in adulthood and the experience of emotional trauma in childhood. “The study found that children who had been emotionally abused were more likely to engage in rash, risky behavior in adolescence and to suffer posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as adults.” Interestingly, the study found that there was a higher correlation of emotional abuse with opioid abuse than any sexual or physical abuse, as well as other categories of abuse including neglect. Whatever caused their trauma, “The severity of the PTSD was directly linked to the severity of their opioid-related problems,” the article explains.

Healing from childhood trauma severs to attachment to opioid addiction. Such healing has to take place physically, mentally, and spiritually. From medically assisted detox to transitional living services, Aurora Recovery Center offers a full spectrum of care. Lighting the pathway to lifelong recovery, Aurora is here to show you the way. For more information, call 844-515-STOP.

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