Few days go by without some news headline about a celebrity or politician struggling with addiction. There are also the countless news stories about dangerous drug trends or the lack of resources to deal with the ever-growing problem of addiction. And what about the many heart-breaking stories that never make the news: a relationship ends because of addiction, a loved one dies from an overdose, or a parent loses access to their child because of substance abuse. You may personally relate to something in these stories. Or you may know someone who does. Either way, you have experienced the chaos, confusion, fear, and hopelessness that addiction and out-of-control behaviours cause. Living in addiction is a painful experience. Sharing life with someone who is struggling with addiction is also a painful experience.
Often, people view addiction as a “choice” – those who are addicted “choose” to use. I have met few of those living in the chaos of addiction who actually want to be there. It isn’t that they want to use – it may be that they do not know how not to use. But what exactly creates the move into addictive patterns of substance use? What causes someone to compulsively engage in an unhealthy or life-threatening behaviour?
My blog is about making sense of the behaviours and consequences of addiction. But it is also about making sense of trauma - because trauma and difficult life experiences often pave the way for a person to use substances or compulsive behaviours as a way of self-medicating. If we can have a better understanding of why addiction happens and how trauma may be a contributing factor, perhaps we can find better tools to support people who want to pursue recovery. My hope is that you find something that helps you or your loved one on the journey of recovery.
Here are all the posts in the "Trauma and Addiction: The Link Can't Be Ignored" series:
Part 1: The Problem is the Problem
Part 2: How Ignoring This Hurts Your Recovery
Part 3: Why People Abuse Substances
Part 4: Feeling No Pain