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.

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?

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

 

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.

OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT ADDICTION :

Resources:

ADDICTION HELP : SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

 

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

Addressing Childhood Trauma To Treat Addictions

 

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?

 

OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT ADDICTION :

hypnosis_for_addiction   Addiction Help (Many addictions addressed)

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 behaviours. 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 (click here to read my article about this).

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. Fiist, 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 (eg drinking a bottle of whisky, going to a casino with all one’s hard earned cash).

After the substance is consumed / the behaviour 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)


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

Childhood Trauma Leading to Addiction – The Signs

I have discussed, in other articles, how the experience of severe childhood trauma can lead us to have a powerful need to dissociate(‘mentally escape’) from painful reality in adulthood. One of the main ways in which individuals attempt to do this is via an array of possible addictions.

In this article I want to look at :

1) The types of substances/activities/behaviors individuals most frequently develop an addiction to (and it is worth noting that most people with one addiction will also have at least one other addiction).

2) The signs that a person may be addicted to a particular substance/activity/behaviour.

So, let’s begin :

1) A list of the types of substances/activities/behaviours individuals most frequently develop an addiction to :

imagesvvv

– alcohol

– street drugs

– prescription drugs (both legally and illegally obtained)

sex/pornography

– spending

gambling

– power

relationships

– caffeine

nicotine

– danger (e.g dangerous sports)

– fast driving (e.g joy riding)

– exercise

– reading

– watching television

– playing computer games

– social networking/chat rooms

– power

– work

– cults

– stress

Of course, many of these are harmless or beneficial in moderation, so at what point would a clinician be inclined to diagnose an unhealthy dependence on, or addiction to, the substances/activities/behaviours listed above?

The criteria listed below are generally used as a guide as to whether or not a person has an addiction to a substance/activity/behaviour (I will call this ‘x’).

a) is the person preoccupied with x?

b) does the person experience a loss of personal control in relation to x?

c) does the person suffer from withdrawal effects if s/he has to go without x?

d) does the person try to hide his/her dependence upon x from others?

e) does increased tolerance of x lead to an increasingly growing need for more and more of it?

f) does the individual seem to be ‘in denial’ in relation to his/her problem in connection with x?

g) does the person have rigid views in relation to x (e.g completely dismissing the concerns of others about his/her dependence upon it).

h) does the individual blame others for his/her need of x? (e.g says that others drive him/her to it).

i) does the person suffer from blackouts related to x?

j) does the person have physical problems relating to x (e.g weight loss, shaking etc)?

k) does the person seem to be suffering from mood swings or personality changes connected to his/her dependence on x?

l) does the individual seem to be losing his/her sense of personal values because of x (e.g putting x before needs of family)?

Clearly, different types of addiction will lead to different types of problems featured on the above list; however, in general, the more of the above problems a person has, and the more intense they are, the more serious the particular addiction or addictions.

imagesvvv2

 

The diagram above shows a typical addiction cycle which can underpin all addictions.

THE TWO COMPONENTS OF ADDICTION :

Addictions tend to comprise two main components :

COMPONENT 1 – biological/physical

COMPONENT 2 – social/emotional

Examples of when the biological/physical component plays a part in addiction :

ALCOHOLISM:

Research suggests that there is a genetic component to alcoholism that causes the individual to metabolize alcohol in a different way to how ‘normal’ drinkers metabolize it – it is thought that, in alcoholics, the intake of alcohol leads to the production of an opiate-like substance in the brain. It is believed that it is this opiate production to which the alcoholic becomes addicted.

‘LOVE ADDICTION’ :

Neurological research suggests that in certain individuals the act of ‘falling in love’ produces far greater quantities of a particular neurotransmitter in the brain than it does in ‘normal’ individuals. It seems that this particular neurotransmitter, in high quantities, produces intense feelings of euphoria.

Unfortunately, however, this very pleasurable mental state soon begins to fade.

It is therefore hypothesized that individuals who produce these large quantities of the neurotransmitter may become addicted to repeating the euphoric high which comes from forming new, intimate relationships. Because of this, they may have frequent, short-term relationships and find it very hard to stay faithful to one partner.

Examples of when the social/emotional component plays a part in the addiction :

The emotional/social component, in fact, seems to play a part in all addictions, irrespective of the biological/physical processes involved. I list below the various aspects of the emotional/social component that addictions may lead to :

– temporary reduction in level of anxiety/stress

– temporary feeling of well-being

– avoidance of ‘real’ feelings

– avoidance of dealing with vital life problems

Whilst addictions offer temporary relief, they serve only to compound our problems over the long-term. For example, drinking a lot, or going on an over-spending spree, may provide a short lived ‘high’ but this is soon replaced by feelings of guilt, shame, emptiness, despair, anxiety and depression.

 

RESOURCES :

ADDICTION HELP – click here

 

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

 

 

BPD, Alcoholism and Impulsivity

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

It is not uncommon for alcoholism and borderline personality disorder (BPD) to go hand-in-hand (click here to read my article on the relationship between alcoholism and childhood trauma). Those suffering from both alcoholism and BPD are particularly likely to have problems controlling their impulsivity.

The reason for this is the twin effects of alcoholism and BPD :

– ALCOHOLISM makes it harder for those who suffer from it delay gratification when intoxicated

– BPD is linked to those who suffer from it having difficulties with inhibitory control

images

These findings were reflected in a research study carried out by the psychologist Rubio, at the University of Madrid. The study involved nearly 350 participants and the results were as follows :

GROUP ONE – ALCOHOLICS WITHOUT BPD :

These participants had a much greater inability to delay gratification when compared to healthy controls. For example, they preferred to drink ‘now’ rather than feel better later (ie not have a hangover). Relapse rates amongst such individuals were found to be high.

GROUP TWO – ALCOHOLICS WITH BPD :

These participants were found to have a lack of inhibitory control over their thoughts and actions : once they started to drink, they found it very difficult to stop.

images (1)

CONCLUSION :

We can infer from these results that  in the sub-group of alcoholics with BPD, their alcoholism may be secondary to their lack of inhibitory control, whereas in alcoholics without BPD, their alcoholism is more likely to be due to their inability to delay gratification.

TREATMENT IMPLICATIONS :

The above further implies that alcoholics with BPD may benefit from treatment for their alcoholism that differs from treatment given to alcoholics without BPD ; specifically, it is now thought that alcoholics with BPD may benefit most from therapy which helps them to develop greater behavioural control – such therapy can involve medication and/or psychotherapy.

NOTE : Regularly drinking to excess is often due to an ultimately counter-productive coping mechanism known as ‘DISSOCIATION.’ Click here to read my article on this.

RESOURCES :

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR RESEARCH INTO IMPULSIVITY

MP3s :

OVERCOME IMULSIVITY MP3 – CLICK HERE

 

EBOOKS :

content_4964975_DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL

 

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. CLICK HERE.

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

Childhood Trauma And Hypersexuality

hypersexuality

Childhood Trauma And Hypersexuality

Hypersexuality, also referred to as erotomania , or, more straightforwardly, sexual addiction, has been linked to traumatic experiences during the sufferer’s childhood. This does not imply, of course, that all those who suffer childhood trauma will go on to become hypersexual in adulthood, nor that there aren’t other causes (there are – such as some neurological conditions which it is unnecessary for me to go into here).

untitled

Erotomania can be defined as a persistent and enduring, intensely powerful compulsion to indulge in sexual activity, whether that activity be solitary or with another/ others. Although it affects females (in such cases, yet another term is sometimes used – ‘nymphomania’) it is more common amongst men.

Clearly, it is no easy task to judge when a ‘normal’ sexual appetite escalates to such extremes that it is classified as erotomania ; nevertheless, clinicians generally classify sexual addiction as being a pathological condition when it substantially interferes with day-to-day functioning, including friendships, relationships, work and life-style in general.

DISSOCIATION :

Clinicians regard addiction to sex as a coping mechanism which allows the sufferer to ‘dissociate’ (click here for my article explaining in detail what psychologists mean by ‘dissociation) or, in other words, to mentally ‘escape’ from feelings of intense emotional distress (including clinical depression, severe anxiety and intense loneliness brought about by social isolation).

SYMPTOMS :

Symptoms include –

– frequent, anonymous sex

– frequent use of prostitutes

– obsession with online porn/sexually oriented chatrooms/phone sex

– view of others as mere sex-objects

– obsessive masturbation (can be even as much as 10-20 times per day)

and, at the more severe end of the scale, symptoms may include :

– indecent public exposure

– voyeurism

– bestiality

ROLE OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF EROTOMANIA :

Severe childhood trauma, as we have seen so often in other articles I’ve written for this site, often causes the adult who experienced it to develop conditions that give rise to deep-rooted psychological and emotional distress. Erotomania may then result as a defense mechanism (ie the need to dissociate as discussed briefly above). Not infrequently, drink and/or drugs may be used during sexual activity in order to intensify its dissociating effect.

EFFECTS AND TREATMENT :

Whilst the sexual activity associated with erotomania may bring temporary relief from emotional pain and suffering, this tends to be heavily outweighed by the negative effects of sexual addiction. This can be illustrated, in part, by the diagram shown below :

images

The diagram shows the cycle of emotions, feelings and behaviour that frequently develops in those who suffer from sexual addiction. As can be seen, the end result is despair, and then the cycle starts again. (What the diagram misses out, however, is the fact that compulsive sexual behaviour is particularly likely to occur if there has been a stressful ‘triggering event’).

The first port of call for the sufferer of erotomania is usually the GP (in the UK). However, because of the sensitive nature of the subject some prefer to initially see an expert in sexual therapy.

 

RESOURCES :

OVERCOME SEX ADDICTION MP3 – CLICK HERE

 

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 :

Stop Binge Eating | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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

 

 

Childhood Trauma: The Link with Alcoholism.

childhood trauma and alcoholisms

childhood trauma and alcoholism

Childhood Trauma And Alcoholism

When childhood trauma remains unresolved (i.e. it has not yet been worked through and processed with the help of psychotherapy), alcoholism may result (together, frequently, with aggressive behaviour).

Indeed, it has been suggested that unresolved traumatic events are actually the MAIN CAUSE of alcoholism in later life. The trauma may have its roots in:

– the child having been rejected by the parent/s
– too much responsibility having been placed upon the child

As would be expected, it has also been found that adult risk of both alcoholism and depression increases the greater the number of traumatic events experienced and the greater their intensity.

Children who grow up in alcoholic households have also been found to be at greater risk of becoming alcoholics themselves in adulthood, but this appears to be due to the fact that, as children with alcoholic parent/s, they are more likely to have experienced traumatic events than children of non-alcoholic parents, rather than due to them modelling their own behaviour regarding drinking alcohol upon that of their parent/s.

childhood trauma and alcoholisms

Furthermore, the more traumatic events experienced during childhood (of a physical, emotional or sexual nature), the more intensely symptoms of ANGER are likely to present themselves later on.

In research studies on childhood trauma, the degree of trauma experienced (and it is obviously not possible to quantify this with absolute precision) is often measured using the CHILDHOOD TRAUMA QUESTIONNAIRE (Fink et al., 1995) which identifies EMOTIONAL INJURIES and PARENTAL NEGLECT experienced during childhood and adolesence.

 

PSYCHODYNAMIC THEORIES view alcholism as A MEANS OF COPING WITH ANXIETY.
Studies suggest that an alcoholic adult is about ten times more likely to have experienced physical violence as a child and about twenty times more likely to have experienced sexual abuse. Lack of peace in the family during childhood is also much more frequently reported by adults suffering from alcoholism, as are: EMOTIONAL ABUSE, NEGLECT, SEPARATION AND LOSS, INADEQUATE (eg distant) RELATIONSHIPS and LACK OF PARENTAL AFFECTION.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE TREATMENT OF ADULT ALCOHOLICS:

Psychotherapy to help the individual suffering from alcoholism resolve his/her childhood trauma may improve treatment outcomes and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Further research is being conducted to help to confirm this.

 

ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE :

There is no precise definition of ‘alcohol dependence’, but it is generally agreed between experts that it usually includes the following features:

– a pattern of daily drinking

– being aware of a compulsion to drink alcohol

– changes in tolerance to the amount of alcohol that can be consumed (in the first stage, tolerance increases,but, eventually, tolerance actually reduces again)

– frequent symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol (commonly referred to as a ‘hangover). Symptoms of this may include : nervousness, shaking, tenseness, agitation (or feeling ‘jittery’ and ‘on edge’), feelings of tension, feelings of sickness/nausea

– finding relief from some or all of the above symptoms by consuming more alcohol

– during any periods of abstinance, finding that the features of dependence on alcohol soon re-emerge

It should be noted that individuals who are considered to have become dependent on alcohol may not have all of the symptoms noted above; however, the more symptoms one possesses, the more seriously dependent upon alcohol one is likely to be. The intensity of these symptoms of alcohol dependence will also vary considerably between individuals.

The cycle below represents the common experience of the highly dependent drinker :

STRATEGIES FOR THE REDUCTION OF ONE’S ALCOHOL INTAKE :

– cut out at least some drinking sessions (eg lunchtime drinking) and, ideally, find something else to occupy the time to act as a distraction (such as actually eating lunch!)

– during drinking sessions, alternate between soft drinks and alcoholic drinks

– avoid drinking environments / the company of people who may pressure you to drink, during periods that you have decided to stay alcohol-free

– if people who are likely to encourage you to drink cannot be avoided, plan how you will resist their influence

– add generous amounts of non-alcoholic mixers to alcoholic drinks where possible, but drink at same speed as you would if the alcohol were less diluted (or slower!)

– avoid falling into social traps that tend to encourage drinking, such as participating in a large, hard-drinking group of people who are buying ’rounds’ for one another where a ‘group mentality’ is likely to predominate

Alcohol, to put it starkly, can destroy lives (see chart below), so, if you feel you have a serious problem, it is strongly advisable to seek professional guidance and support.

RESOURCES :

 

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

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Childhood Trauma: The Link with Future Gambling.

gambling addiction

childhood trauma and gambling addiction

Childhood Trauma And Gambling Addiction :

Research suggests that childhood trauma increases the likelihood of future addictions, including gambling. This gambling may become pathological. The types of childhood trauma that were experienced in pathological gamblers include violence, sexual abuse and loss. For instance, Jacobs (2008) conducted research demonstrating that childhood trauma greatly increased the risk of addictions in later life.

It has been hypothesized that gambling helps the individual cope with their childhood trauma through the psychological process known as DISSOCIATION (whilst intensely involved with gambling the individual ‘goes into another world’, blissfully disconnecting, for a time, from painful reality).

Pathological gambling is closely connected to impulse and control disorders; indeed, such disorders frequently express themselves in conditions linked to childhood trauma (such as borderline personality disorder).Pathological gambling may involve:

– an overwhelming preoccupation with gambling
– lying to others to cover up the extent of the gambling
– a failure to stop gambling even when the individual strongly wants to do so

The profile of the pathological gambler is often a complicated one as the individual often suffers from an array of other psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety (Abbot et al., 1999).

Studies estimate that about 2% (although the figure varies somewhat from study to study) of the U.S. population suffers from pathological gambling.

Factors other than childhood trauma which make an individual more at risk of developing pathological gambling inclue:

– being male
– being young
– having other mental health problems

Polusny et al (1995) suggested that addictive behaviours help the individual avoid both the memories of their childhood trauma together with the deeply painful feelings and emotions associated with it. Therefore, because activities such as gambling reduce the emotional distress connected with childhood trauma, the individual is driven to repeat the gambling experience again and again, due to the reward it provides of reducing psychological pain (this is technically known as negative reinforcement).

It is my contention that, on some level, the benefits of reducing psychological pain must outweigh the financial losses; as losses can be enormous this gives some indication of the level of psychological pain the individual is in and the strength of the internal drive to reduce it. Of course, this can only be helpful in short-term bursts and, overall, it goes without saying that the individual’s pain and suffering are compounded.

gambling addiction

THE GENERAL THEORY OF ADDICTION:

This model proposes that there is an underlying biological state (ie an abnormal resting arousal state) together with a psychological state which is painful for the individual (for example, by creating a feeling of unbearable anxiety) often caused by childhood trauma to which activities such as gambling provide an ‘escape route’ (temporarily). The individual becomes addicted to this short-term relief (although often he will not realize this is the fundamental reason he continues to gamble, the drive frequently being unconscious).

Addictions which alleviate extreme stress in this manner are known as MALADAPTIVE COPING STRATEGIES; they are, essentially, learned defences against UNRESOLVED TRAUMA-RELATED ANXIETY (Henry, 1996).

Studies have revealed that up to 80% of pathological gamblers have suffered extreme childhood trauma. Further studies suggest that the more severe and protracted the trauma, the higher the risk is that the individual will develop pathological gambling behaviour and the YOUNGER the individual will be when he starts to use gambling as a coping strategy. Indeed, I myself started playing fruit machines at the age of twelve (many places weren’t strict about the age of the person playing them in the late 1970s) and I can remember quite distinctly the pleasant relief it gave to my already depressed and anxious emotional state.

TREATMENT IMPLICATIONS:

It seems likely, then, that childhood trauma which remains unresolved is likely to elevate the risk of pathological gambling in individuals. When treating pathological gamblers, therefore, it is important to assess the degree of trauma the individual might have suffered and to consider appropriate psychological interventions which could be implemented to help the individual resolve the trauma. It is the psychological pain which underlies the compulsion to gamble which it is necessary to address.

RESOURCE :

Overcome Gambling Addiction : Self-hypnosis download – Click here for more information

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 :

 

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).

Effect Of Alcoholic Parents On Children

effect of alcoholic parents on children

What Is The Effect Of Alcoholic Parents On Children?

Those who grow up in households in which one or both parents are alcoholic almost invariably have to suffer a living environment that is emotionally chaotic. Indeed, the behavior of alcoholic parents towards their children can be terrifying.

Furthermore, the alcoholic parent may be in denial about his/her condition, as may be his/her spouse. In connection to this, the children who grow up in such a household are expected to keep the matter a secret. The need to keep the situation a secret is extremely stressful for the child ; s/he may need frequently to lie to keep the matter covered up, and, due to this, may constantly worry about slipping up and letting the cat out of the bag.

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Very often, too, the child will feel a great deal of shame about his/her family situation. Such shame can lead the child to socially isolate him/herself. Also, in such households, the focus of attention is usually on the alcoholic member, so the child may receive little attention at home.

Overall, then, s/he may find s/he has little emotional support in a situation that greatly warrants such support and in which s/he may well desperately need it. This, in turn, can lead to feelings of being ignored and unwanted.

The parent who drinks excessively to cope with his/her own problems is more likely to take these problems out on the child due to the way in which alcohol lowers inhibitions ; violent, explosive rages may be the norm. Worse still, the parent may  completely unfairly blame the child for causing the stress which causes him/her to drink, thus making the child feel guilty and ashamed, destroying his/her self-esteem and confidence.

ROLE REVERSAL :

It is not uncommon in households in which a parent is an alcoholic for the child to feel responsible for the parent’s welfare ; in many ways, then, the child may behave more like a parent towards the alcoholic parent rather than the parent’s child.

This is a classic role-reversal situation which is also to be found in many other types of dysfunctional family. This can often lead to the child feeling guilty that s/he is unable to help the alcoholic parent.

Also, due to such role reversal, the child may lack role models ; this, in turn, can lead to the child growing up with identity problems. On top of this, other symptoms associated with growing up in an alcoholic household may develop ; these include depression, insecurity, repressed anger and difficulties with relationships (see below) :

RELATIONSHIP DIFFICULTIES THAT MAY DEVELOP AS A RESULT OF HAVING GROWN UP IN AN ALCOHOLIC HOUSEHOLD :

Often children who live in alcoholic households will grow up to harbour deep feelings of having been betrayed ; as a result, they may conclude, on either a conscious or unconscious level, that people can’t be trusted – after all, the reasoning might run, ‘if I can’t count on my parents, who can I count on?’ In adult life, then, s/he may often feel suspicious, possessive and jealous towards intimate partners, hyperalert to any signs of possible betrayal.

THE REPETITION COMPULSION :

Those who experience abusive childhoods are often unconsciously compelled to seek out similar abusive relationships in adulthood. For example, if the child from the alcoholic household was physically beaten, s/he may form relationships with those who behave violently towards him/her.This sounds strange but is, in fact, a common phenomenon. Two main psychological interpretations have been advanced that attempt to explain this :

– s/he has formed an unconscious psychological connection between abuse and love

or :

– s/he is unconsciously compelled to keep re-experiencing the childhood trauma in an attempt to gain mastery over  the situation (eg the subconscious thought process could be : ‘this time I’ll change their behavior so I’ll be treated with the love and respect I’ve always needed.’ In this sense, the repetition compulsion could be an unconscious attempt ‘to rectify the past.’

INCREASED RISK OF ALCOHOLISM :

The person who has grown up in an alcoholic household is more likely than average to develop alcoholism him/herself. Indeed, about a third of those who grew up with an alcoholic parent become alcoholics themselves. Reasons include :

– it is a learned behavior/it has been modeled on their alcoholic parent

– to attempt to cope with the psychological pain caused by childhood experiences

– possible genetic inheritance

– some alcoholic parents encourage their children to start drinking when young as a misguided ‘bonding exercise’.

 

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

Control Impulsive Behavior

Do You Find It Hard To Control Impulsive Behavior?

If we have suffered severe childhood trauma which has led us to develop borderline personality disorder/BPD (click here to read my article on the link between childhood trauma and BPD) one of the most harmful symptoms we suffer may be a grossly impaired ability to control impulsive behavior.

The kinds of self-destructive, impulsive behaviours that an individual suffering from BPD may experience are :

– over-spending

– reckless driving

binge eating

– shop- lifting

gambling

– reckless sex (e.g. promiscuous unprotected sex) – click here to read my article on this)

– substance abuse

Often, people with BPD will give in to such impulsive activities in a desperate attempt to fill a profound sense of inner emptiness and desolation.

IMPULSE CONTROL ACTIVITIES FOR ADULTS :

Three methods often recommended by psychologists to help us control impulsive behavior :

1) REFLECTION

2) DELAY

3) DISTRACTION

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1) REFLECTION – often, if we carry out an impulsive act, we deeply regret it the next day and are filled with a deep sense of shame and despair.

We can actually use this to our advantage by reflecting on such feelings we are likely to experience BEFORE we indulge ourselves in the impulsive behaviour; hopefully, through such anticipation of how we will feel later, we are less inclined to go ahead and carry the impulsive behaviour out.

In order to utilize this strategy most effectively, many people find it very helpful to write out the following four questions on a piece of paper and then carry it around with them (e.g. in a wallet or handbag etc.), for instant reference should the need arise!

These four questions are as follows :

a) How important to me is it that I act out this impulsive act in the great scheme of things?

b) How will I feel about having carried it out tomorrow?

c) How will I feel tomorrow if I DO NOT carry out the behaviour?

d) If I indulge in the behaviour, what are the likely long-term consequences?

2) DELAY – an alternative strategy is to DELAY acting upon our impulses. For example, if we have the urge to do something that is likely to be self-destructive, such as gambling, we may experiment by delaying doing it by, say, an hour.

Then, next time, we can delay by an hour and a half, then, the time after that, by two hours…and so on…and so on…

This actually strengthens our ability to delay gratification and resist potentially harmful impulses (by strengthening relevant neurological pathways in the brain).

The goal is to strengthen this ability to such a degree that, eventually, we find it no harder to control our impulses than does the average person.

3) DISTRACTION – the third strategy entails distracting ourselves from our impulsive feelings. This method works best if we plan in advance what we might do to divert ourselves from our potentially self-destructive urges, should they arise.

Of course, chosen distractions will vary from person to person; however, I provide some examples below:

– gym

– jogging

– home exercises

– phoning a friend

– cinema/film

– taking up a hobby which we find both interesting and enjoyable

ALTERNATIVE BEHAVIORS :

Some people with BPD are sensation/thrill seekers as they have a need to compensate for inner feelings of emptiness (see above) and this has led to their impulsive, self-destructive behaviours. More healthy (yet still exciting) behaviours which may act as  alternatives (given correct training and supervision) include :

– bungee jumping

– sky diving

– skiing

– mountain climbing

– rock climbing

– extreme sports

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive and different individuals will, no doubt, find activities most appropriate to them.

RELATED ARTICLES :

Impulse Control : Study Showing Its Vital Importance

Childhood Trauma Leading To The Development Pf Impulse Control Disorders

 

Resource :


CONTROL IMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR : SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS


 

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

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