The link between childhood trauma and difficulties as an adult such as drug abuse or mental disorders is widely acknowledged.
Unfortunately for kids these days it is hard if not impossible to avoid some kind of trauma in their life and certain surveys show this. In fact the link between childhood trauma and drug abuse doesn’t have to be sexual or physical abuse to lead to drug abuse. Studies have shown a strong link just through verbal humiliation during childhood and drug abuse. So the link between childhood trauma and drug abuse doesn’t always come back to any kind of physical violence but can be anything that is too much for a child or adolescent to handle such as verbal abuse, parents divorcing, parents cheating, a volatile home, humiliation, physical abuse, extreme change in environment, or extreme punishments.
How big is the link between childhood trauma and drug abuse?
According to the National Survey of Adolescents, one in four children and adolescents in the United States experience some kind of potentially traumatic before the age of 16. That is not good news for the link between childhood trauma and drug abuse. It’s not just that though, more than 13% of 17 year olds have had PTSD at some point in their lives.
So how does this affect the link between childhood trauma and drug abuse? Well not only are kids and adolescents having childhood trauma they are also in a period of life where they have a wide range of substances that can dull the effects and stress of trauma.
It is estimated that nearly 30% of adolescents have experimented with illegal drugs by the time they get through eighth grade and 41% have consumed alcohol. This experimentation and consumption can easily lead to drug abuse.
Are we starting to see the link between childhood trauma and drug abuse?
Although no one knows exactly how many adolescents are using drugs due to childhood trauma or have a link between the too it is still well documented.
Once again according to the National Survey of Adolescents, teens that have experienced physical or sexual abuse were more likely to have drug abuse problems. The link between childhood trauma and drug abuse here is so strong that teens that experienced these traumas were 3 times more likely to report drug abuse problems than those without any childhood trauma.
When surveying those adolescents already receiving substance abuse treatment the link between childhood trauma and drug abuse was clear. More than 70% of the patient had a history of trauma exposure.
The link between childhood trauma and drug abuse also runs both ways. Childhood trauma can increase the chance of drug abuse and drug abuse can increase the chance of trauma.
According to the self-medication diagnosis of drug abuse the link between childhood trauma and drug abuse is this; that teens and adolescents use drugs and alcohol in attempts to manage distress associated with the traumatic stress symptoms. They use the drugs to manage floods of emotion and traumatic reminders.