Life experiences, either negative or positive, have a significant impact on our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Adverse life experiences such as abuse, neglect, violence, or emotional distress may have serious consequences later in life, such as mental illness or addiction.
In treating individuals who suffer from addiction, it is important to address any co-occurring trauma, PTSD, or related symptoms within the setting of a drug and alcohol rehab facility because, in most instances, these traumatic events or experiences play a role in the person’s addictive behaviors. Therefore, the addiction cannot be fully overcome without addressing those issues.
The Impact of Trauma
Research shows that trauma plays an important role in how we live our lives. One such famous study is the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, which is one of the largest investigations of child abuse, neglect, and well-being later in life.1
The original ACE study was conducted from 1995 to 1997 and found that traumatic experiences in childhood can increase a person’s risk for developing substance abuse (among many other unhealthy lifestyles and habits) later in life.
The ACE study looked at the following factors:
Mother treated violently
Household substance abuse
Mental illness in household
Parental separation or divorce
Incarcerated household member
Of those who participated in the study, almost two-thirds of study participants reported experiencing at least one of the above factors. More than one in five participants reported experiencing three or more.1 The study also found that participants who reported experiencing five or more of the above factors were seven to 10 times more likely to suffer from substance abuse later in life.2
The ACE study was instrumental in showing the significant relationship between trauma and addiction, especially regarding adverse childhood experiences.