Category Archives: Addiction And Its Link To Childhood Trauma

Articles about how childhood trauma can lead to addictions such as alcoholism, substance abuse, gambling, sex addiction and obsessive love disorder.

Effects Of Interpersonal Childhood Trauma On Sexuality

According to the traumagenic dynamics model (Finkelhor and Browne), severe and protracted childhood interpersonal childhood trauma (interpersonal trauma refers to types of trauma that occur between the child and significant others e,g, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and witnessing domestic violence) can give rise to pervasive feelings of betrayal, powerlessness, stigmatization and traumatic sexualization, which in turn, can have extremely adverse effects upon self-image, one’s view of the world and one’s emotional responses.

This can then lead to two contrasting negative effects upon the individual’s sexuality :

  • some may respond by becoming sexually compulsive
  • others may respond by becoming sexually avoidant
Effects Of Interpersonal Childhood Trauma On Sexuality 1

Sexual compulsion is sometimes referred to as hypersexuality and involves the individual being preoccupied (to the extent that it causes the individual distress and / or negatively impacts important parts of his / her life such as physical health, vocation and relationships) with urges, fantasies and / or activities that are hard to keep under control ; these may include excessive promiscuity, risky sex, masturbation, paying for prostitutes, pornography and cybersex.

The term ‘sexual avoidance,’ on the other hand, refers to chronic lack of sexual desire which has serious adverse effects upon the individual’s quality of life ; if the extent of sexual avoidance and related symptoms meet a certain threshold, it can be diagnosed as sexual aversion disorder. A person suffering from this disorder may avoid sex due to feelings of fear, revulsion and disgust in relation to sexual activity and suffer panic attacks at the thought of participating in it ; this, in turn, can, of course, seriously damage intimate relationships.

Both sexual avoidance and sexual compulsion are thought to be defense mechanisms (albeit dysfunctional ones) serving to protect the individual from intrusive, traumatic memories and flashbacks, or to reduce feelings of low self-esteem related to the devastating effects of the original childhood, interpersonal trauma. For example, a person with very low self-esteem may compulsively try to attract sexual partners to help him / her feel ‘desired’, ‘wanted’ or ‘loved’, however illusory, fleeting and superficial such faux-feelings may be.

Such promiscuity undertaken in a (futile) attempt to bolster self-esteem can, of course, ultimately serve only exacerbate feelings of loneliness, emptiness, guilt and shame ; indeed, it should be noted that some individuals alternate between periods of sexual compulsion and periods of avoidance. This ambivalence towards the concept of sexual activity reflects how individuals can be prone to switch between sexually compulsive behavior – in a desperate attempt to feel better – and sexually avoidant behavior – when they realize such behavior has left them feeling even worse).

Finally, it should be stated that research suggests sexual dysfunctional behavior not only can affect those who have experienced interpersonal trauma through sexual abuse, but also through physical and psychological abuse, as well.

RESOURCE :

How to Overcome Sexual Addiction | Self Hypnosis Downloads. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Sex Addiction Therapy

sex_addiction_therapy

sex_addiction_therapy

Sex Addiction And Childhood Trauma :

We have seen from other articles that I have published on this site that those who have suffered significant and protracted childhood trauma are at higher than average risk of developing an addiction to sex in adulthood (for example, see my post entitled : Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Hypersexuality‘).

 

Blotting Out Emotional Pain :

One reason why those who have suffered childhood trauma may become addicted to sex is that the act of sex helps them to ‘blot out’, or make themselves feel ‘numb to’, or ‘dissociate’ from unbearable emotional pain connected to their early life experiences (for example, those who have suffered severe childhood trauma may go on to develop borderline personality disorder and a major symptom of this condition is a propensity to develop addictions – including sex addiction).

 

Related Addictions And Psychological Conditions :

 Indeed, because most people who suffer from sex addiction are generally unwilling to discuss their problem with others, the fact that they are suffering from it only becomes apparent when then develop a trusting relationship with a therapist who they initially went to see for help with other addictions such as alcoholism or drug abuse. Alternatively, they may have initially gone to see the their therapist in order to seek treatment for depression, anxiety or low self-esteem (all of which are also more common in those with a history of childhood trauma).

Currently, sexual addiction is regarded as being similar in nature to addiction to chemical substances because the act of sex seems to have a similar ‘numbing’ effect (see above) on feelings of mental anguish (however, it should be noted that, as a discrete condition, ‘sex addiction’ is not yet  (at the time of writing) included in the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders.

 

How Does Sex Addiction Manifest Itself?

Sexual addiction can manifest itself in a number of ways, including :

  • Voyeurism
  • Exhibitionism
  • Fantasies
  • Internet Pornography
  • Sadomasochism
  • Compulsive use of prostitutes

 

High Sex Drive :

In fact, sexual addiction is NOT the same as simply having a high sex drive (indeed, a high sex drive can be a sign of good psychological health) but involves a compulsive quality that brings about negative results (for the sufferer, those s/he comes into contact with, or both).

Negative Consequences :

Sexual addiction can seriously, adversely impact upon the individual’s quality of life. For example, it may :

  • cause financial problems
  • result in the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases
  • lead to legal problems
  • impair relationships

Sex Addiction Therapy :

sex_addiction_therapy

Once a person suffering from sex addiction recognizes that s/he has a problem which is significantly spoiling his/her quality of life, seeking help from a therapist can be very helpful. Confiding in a trusted, accepting, empathetic therapist can help to reduce feelings of shame related to the addiction and the therapist can provide advice about how to avoid triggers and how to develop healthier and more functional coping mechanisms to deal with negative feelings.

Therapies used to treat sex addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy (the latter may be more appropriate when the problem is clearly related to childhood issues).

 

RESOURCES :

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma Leading To Addiction And Crime

We have seen in previous articles published on this site that, if we have experienced significant childhood trauma, we are at increased risk of becoming addicted to illegal drugs as a result in order to help dull our emotional pain / dissociate from our problems (this is not only because our lives our more likely to be stressful if we have experienced childhood trauma, but also because the experience of childhood trauma can damage the development of a part of the brain called the amygdala which, in turn, makes us more susceptible to, and less able to tolerate, the effects of stress).

childhood trauma addiction and crime

Unfortunately, too, if we become addicted to illegal drugs, we then become at increased risk of becoming involved in crime (over and above the crime of buying and taking illegal drugs). Below, I explain some of the main reasons why this is so :

Why Becoming Addicted To Illegal Drugs Puts Us At Risk Of Becoming Further Involved In Crime :

– some drugs can decrease inhibition, increase impulsivity and increase the propensity to become violent (though obviously not an illegal drug, this is especially true of alcohol – and the experience of childhood trauma also makes it more likely we will abuse alcohol for the same reasons that we may become addicted to illegal drugs)

– the desperate need to acquire money quickly to buy the drugs that feed the addiction

– buying illegal drugs brings the addict into contact with the criminal world which exposes him/her to the danger of becoming ‘sucked into’ a more general, criminal lifestyle.

The Development Of The Vicious Circle :

Not only does being an addict increase one’s risk of becoming involved in crime, but the reverse is also true : being involved in crime can increase one’s likelihood of becoming / remaining an addict. This is because the money that can be accumulated through criminal endeavours can be used to start a drug habit, maintain a drug habit, increase frequency of use of drug, increase dosage of drug per session, and allow the addict to buy a new types of drugs s/he couldn’t previously afford or to which s/he previously did not have access.

And, if s/he goes to prison due to crime, s/he is likely to encounter a thriving drug culture – indeed, many prisoners state that it is even easier to acquire drugs inside jail than it is outside.

The childhood trauma / addiction / crime association is more likely to affect males than females (eighty per cent of all crimes are committed by males). However, females are more likely to turn to prostitution in order to sustain their drug habit.

Resources :

Overcome Addiction : Self Hypnosis Downloads.

eBook :

childhood trauma control anger

Above eBook available for immediate download, click here for further details.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma Leading To The Need To ‘Self-Medicate’.

Childhood Trauma And Self-Medication

Until a few years ago I consumed excessive amounts of alcohol (leading to some appalling consequences that I will describe in future posts). Two main reasons for this most ill-advised and, above all, desperate behavior are both clichés: one:I drank to reduce my social anxiety and, two: I drank to numb my intense and intolerable psychological pain.

The root cause of my social anxiety and psychological pain derived, I feel sure, from my traumatic childhood. Indeed, such childhood trauma is very often the root cause of why people in general use alcohol, and other psychoactive substances such as illicit drugs, to self-medicate (ie. attempt to ameliorate their emotional and psychological pain).

A main reason that many find it so hard to stop or reduce their reliance on such self-medication is that they are unaware that the origin of their addictive need to self-medicate lies in their traumatic childhood experiences and that the adverse psychological consequences which they seek to numb by excessive drinking or drug taking are symptoms of this trauma.

This lack of insight leads to the root cause of the particular addiction remaining untreated, making it much harder for the individual to recover from his/her reliance on mind-altering substances.

Very sadly, other people, perhaps ill-informed family members, who also are unaware of the true origins of the problem, may, due to their lack of understanding, blame the individual for his/her, as they may erroneously perceive it, ‘weakness of character’ and ‘selfishness’ (it is not selfishness – being addicted to, for example, alcohol is hardly fun or enjoyable; one does not choose to suffer from such an addiction, by definition).

self medication

Equally sadly, the addict may blame him/herself, adding to his/her depression and worsening yet further his/her already extremely low self-esteem, thus, in all likelihood, aggravating still further his/her addictive disorder.

Whilst the afflicted individual may sometimes enter stages of incipient recovery, if his/her childhood trauma remains therapeutically unaddressed, s/he is likely to relapse when events in his/her life trigger traumatic memories and flashbacks.

It is useful to provide some statistics in connection with the idea of childhood trauma leading to self-medication as an adult: for example, intravenous drug users are 1000% (one thousand per cent) more likely to have suffered childhood trauma than non-intravenous drug users. A second example is that (in the USA) female alcoholics are twice as likely to have suffered significant trauma compared to their non-alcoholic counterparts.

The Role Of Adrenaline:

Those suffering from the effects of severe trauma, such as those who have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), have been found to produce in their bodies excessive quantities of the hormone adrenaline which significantly contributes to their feelings of deep anxiety and general psychological distress.

It is hardly a coincidence, then, that one of the illicit drugs they can become dependent upon is heroin as this drug is highly effective at shutting down the brain’s adrenaline center – the locus coeruleus.

Other drugs that have a similar effect are Valium, alcohol and benzodiazepines (the latter is a drug which played a role in the shamelessly hounded and persecuted musical genius Michael Jackson’s tragic and untimely death – it is well documented that he was traumatized by his childhood, not least because his father, Joe Jackson, would allegedly whip his son if he made mistakes during rehearsals when he rehearsed with his older brothers who made up the Jackson Five).

Conclusion:

Therapies for those who have experienced significant childhood trauma and are consequently addicted to the sort of substances referred to above are far more likely to be successful if they do not ignore the root cause of the problem – namely the afflicted individual’s childhood traumatic experiences.

RESOURCES :

Addiction Help | Self Hypnosis Downloads

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

Addressing Childhood Trauma To Treat Addictions

 Addressing Childhood Trauma To Treat Addictions 2

Treating Addiction :

Addicts, sadly, are too frequently blamed for not being able to overcome their addictions; however, this can be based on the misunderstanding that the addict must be hedonistic. This, though, is to miss the point.

The addict is not so much seeking pleasure but, rather, is desperately seeking relief from intolerable emotional pain (dissociating). In other words, the addict is self – anesthetizing.

Very frequently, the unendurable mental anguish that the addict feels stems from their childhood trauma.

Internal versus external coping mechanisms:

It is necessary for the addict to stop relying on external coping mechanisms (such as alcohol and drugs) to cope with their psychological pain but instead cultivate internal coping mechanisms such as:

– learning how to self-sooth

– using visualization techniques (such as visualizing a safe place whenever, for example, an incident occurs which triggers anxieties linked to their childhood trauma).

Survivor versus victim:

If no therapeutic work has taken place in order to help the addict resolve the feelings associated with his/her childhood trauma, s/he is likely to remain trapped in the role of victim (in effect, their psychological and emotional development is arrested at the time of the trauma).

However, when therapy begins it can help the addict develop an alternative view of him/herself – that of a brave and strong survivor.

The kinds of childhood trauma that are particularly likely to cause symptoms such as addictions and arrested psychological and emotional development include:

abandonment

rejection

– being treated with contempt/disdain (eg always being on the receiving end of ‘put downs’ by a parent/parents/primary caregiver)

– sexual and physical abuse

– verbal and emotional abuse

Such treatment frequently causes the child to develop what psychologists refer to as a negative cognitive triad, i.e:

a negative view of self

– a negative view of others

– a negative view of the future

In the absence of effective therapeutic intervention, these negative attitudes may endure for a lifetime.

Other symptoms the individual who suffered childhood trauma may develop are:

– a deep and abiding sense of alienation from others/society

avoidant behavior, including fear of intimacy (due to fears of being vulnerable to rejection if s/he gets too emotionally close to others).

– an irrational sense of shame

self-destructive behavior

When talking to a mental health-care clinician about one’s experience of childhood trauma, it is very important to provide the following details:

– age at time of trauma

– severity of trauma

– who committed the abuse e.g.  stranger, family member (more harmful if family member)

– was it a single incident or ongoing?

– was the event/ act/s intentional or accidental?

– was escape possible?

– what was the level of severity?

– was the trauma response one of flight, fight or freeze?

Resources:

hypnosis_for_addiction   Addiction Help (Many addictions addressed)

 

OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT ADDICTION :

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

The Link Between Childhood Trauma And Addiction.

We have seen in other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who have suffered significant childhood trauma are more likely than others to develop addictions (often multiple addictions) during our teens and adulthood. Why should this be?

Experiments involving rats help to cast light upon this. These experiments involve measuring how addicted to cocaine rats become in two different conditions. These two conditions are as follows:

Condition One:  A solitary rat in an impoverished environment (i.e. one in which there is no stimulation, just an empty cage).

Condition Two: The rat has the company of other rats and has an enriched (i.e. stimulating) environment.

drug-addiction

Results:

– In condition one rats became extremely addicted to the cocaine, becoming heavily addicted

– In condition two rats ingested far less cocaine (75% less) and did not become addicted

(The psychologist, Professor Bruce Alexander, pioneered these studies).

If we extrapolate from this research (i.e. apply it to humans) it would be expected that :

Individuals with empty, lonely lives are significantly more likely to become addicts than individuals with full and socially integrated lived. Indeed, there is much research evidence to support this view and a growing school of thought is of the view that a person’s life situation plays a more important role in an individuals addiction than the addictive substance itself.

Implications:

It is likely, then, that a person’s life circumstances play a vital role in whether or not a person becomes an addict. Therefore, it follows that the most effective way to reduce addiction is to help addicts re-connect with society and gain dependable social support.

Because those who have suffered childhood trauma are more likely to develop chaotic, disenfranchised lives as adults, as many of the articles on this site have shown, such people are at greater risk than others of living in the kind of social isolation which fosters drug addiction.

ADDICTION HELP : SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Why And How Childhood Trauma Can Turn Us Into Addicts

 

We frail humans can, all too easily, become addicted, psychologically and/or physically, to a large array of substances and behaviors. I provide a list of examples below:

– alcohol

– drugs (including drugs obtained on prescription, such as sleeping pills), illegal drugs and, in the UK and no doubt many other countries, so-called ‘legal highs’.

– tobacco

– work (people who are workaholics may also suffer from the condition known as PERFECTIONISM)

– food (people who over- indulge in food to help them to cope with psychological pain are often informally referred to as COMFORT EATERS)

– exercise (especially body building and/or jogging)

– watching TV

– surfing the internet

– computer games

– relationships (constantly getting bored with existing relationships and therefore perpetually and quickly moving from one partner to another always in search of fresh excitement and thrills that often accompany the start of a brand new relationship).

– sex (click here to read my article about erotomania)

gambling (with online gambling becoming an increasing problem)

– risk-taking (e.g. driving too fast, dangerous sports etc to gain a so-called adrenalin buzz’)

– power

– excessive spending (again, this can produce a temporary ‘high’ until the novelty of the item purchased wears off (usually quickly necessitating further purchases…)

download

Root Cause Of Such Dependencies:

We can become psychologically and/or physically dependent on behaviours and substances such as those mentioned above in an attempt to fill a void caused by a more profound dependency deriving from our dysfunctional childhood.

These dependencies/addictions are essentially defence mechanisms – a way of trying to reduce the level of our psychological suffering. Psychologists refer to this defence mechanism as DISSOCIATION

Multiple Addictions:

The more traumatic our childhood was, the more psychological defences we are likely to develop; this translates to the fact that many people suffer from multiple addictions. Also, those who had the most traumatic childhoods are likely to be those with the deepest, most intractable, addictions.

Symptoms Of The Dependent Individual:

As well as having one, or several, addictions, the person with a dependent personality may also :

– feel an abiding sense of abandonment / rejection

constantly feel anxious

be easily angered and his/her angry outbursts may be very intense/lacking control

– feel a sense of emptiness

feel life lacks meaning

– have a very weak sense of own identity

– feel that s/he has been used, exploited and taken advantage of (often by parents in childhood)

– feel s/he has been manipulated and controlled (often by patents in childhood)

– feel a general sense of confusion

– feel a deep sense of loneliness and ‘disconnection’ from others/society

– often feel fearful / a sense of impending doom

Also, in childhood, as a result of out trauma, we may have been prone to angry/aggressive outbursts, withdrawn and ‘moody’, negative, pessimistic and ‘difficult’ (actually, that sounds uncannily like me as an adolescent. And as an adult? Let’s not go there).

Short-Term Gains:

Addictions deliver short-term benefits (if they didn’t, people would not become addicted in the first place).

For example, addictions may provide :

– temporary relief from stress and anxiety

– temporary feelings of well-being

– temporary feelings of control and/or power

However, these benefits must be off-set against, for example, such considerations as the following:

– they mask the real issues and prevent the individual from dealing with his/her life problems (such as seeking therapy for a traumatic childhood)

-they lead to avoidance of confronting and working through/processing true feelings

The Addiction Cycle:

Addiction leads to a vicious cycle from which it becomes increasingly difficult to break free. First, there is an emotional trigger such as an argument with a partner.

This leads to stress and anxiety which in turn leads to a craving for the addictive substance / to perform the addictive behaviour in an attempt to reduce this anxiety.

There then follows the addictive ritual (e.g. drinking a bottle of whisky, going to a casino with all one’s hard earned cash).

After the substance is consumed / the behavior carried out feelings of guilt follow…and so the cycle continues (until effective therapy is sought and administered).

The diagram below illustrates this inexorable cycle of self-destruction:

images

 

The Fundamental Elements Of Addiction:

The main elements of addiction are:

1) An increasing obsession/ preoccupation with the substance/behaviour of addiction

2) Increased tolerance : the person needs more and more of whatever s/he’s addicted to due to ‘diminishing returns’ (e.g. takes increasingly more alcohol to produce desired effect – in this case, possibly, oblivion).

3) Diminishing control : e.g. a gambler may start losing larger and larger sums of money, overtaken by powerful and self-destructive impulses

4) Secretiveness : e.g. an alcoholic may hide bottles of whisky about the house and at work and deny to others that s/he drinks excessively

5) Denial to self / self-delusion : e.g. the drug addict who tells him/herself ‘giving up would be easy’ but that s/he currently ‘chooses’ not to. Or may deny to themselves their addiction is doing them any harm when it is clear to others that this is patently not the case).

6) Mood swings e.g. extreme anxiety suddenly changing to severe aggression/anger

7) Loss of self-respect : e.g. the alcoholic who can no longer be bothered concerning him/herself with his/her appearance / personal hygiene

8) Loss of moral principles e.g. the drug addict who steals from friends to get money to pay for drugs

9) Suicidal feelings / impulses

10) Exacerbation / development of psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and paranoia.

11) Physical illness (e.g. liver disease, lung cancer)

RESOURCE :

ADDICTION HELP : SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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