Thanks to continued effort in the world of research surrounding addiction and its causes, we have a better understanding of the disease than ever before. That being said, there are still aspects of how addiction forms and should be treated due to the vast differences between individuals.
One area of heavy interest is the relationship between childhood trauma and the presence of addictive tendencies. There’s no question that a traumatic event can impact an individual for their entire life, but the role it plays for a child’s psychological development.
The Ways Trauma Changes a Child’s Brain
Determining whether or not trauma has a direct relation on a child’s potential to form an addiction takes an understanding of how the brain adjusts to such events. The reason research in this field has been slow to build up is the need for large test groups over a span of decades due to the lack of consistent reactions to trauma from the brain.
During childhood brain development, the neural connections that make up our central nervous system which allows us to perform functions such as speaking and walking. The older we get, the larger the network of neurons becomes and we learn new skills and abilities.
This time of immense growth is also one of vulnerability, for better and for worse. The environment and experiences during childhood have a heavy impact on growth and can either promote or prevent it. Regarding addiction, the negative effects of a traumatic event are believed to lead to developmental issues in the areas of the brain responsible for behavioral, social and cognitive skills.
With a new point of view to explore, more studies began looking back into cases where an individual suffering from addiction also endured a traumatic or extremely stressful event during childhood. The presence of long-term stress combined with poor neural development is the likely culprit for these individuals being more susceptible to substance use disorder, SUD.
How These Effects Translate to Adulthood
It’s common to assume that childhood trauma is related to periods of child abuse with the true sources of trauma coming from any event that caused massive spikes in stress. Children who have gone through these experiences exhibit more addictive personality traits, especially regarding drug and alcohol use.
The reason traumatic events tend to have a much larger impact on children is that they lack the life experiences and knowledge to understand why something is happening and what it truly means. If these traumas go unchecked, they can have a lasting impact that constantly hangs over their head.
This is especially true if the trauma is caused by a parent or loved one, someone they trusted to take care of and protect them. The lack of safety and comfort can leave children in an extremely vulnerable state rather than a healthy one that fosters growth and development of the brain.
Children are in such an impressionable state that certain events don’t have to be traumatic in nature to have a negative impact on development. One of the most common examples of this is when a child’s parents or trusted adults abuse substances in their presence, turning the act into something they associate with being a good adult.
Preventing Addiction With This Research
Understanding the connection between childhood trauma and adult addiction lets us provide preventative care and early intervention to children and young adults who need it. Taking steps ahead of time is the only way to truly prevent addiction as once it develops, it becomes a lifelong struggle.
At America’s Rehab Campus, we’re able to tailor treatment to perfectly suit those who have experienced trauma in their life. Psychological and mental health professionals provide guests with a chance to process and overcome their difficult pasts, making a successful rehab achievable for anyone.
Don’t let your childhood dictate who you are as an adult. Take control of your recovery and reach out to our compassionate staff today.