Human trauma effects all sorts of people: from the poor, the rich, male, female, gender fluid persons, people on all levels of the sexuality spectrum, those persons well known and those whose lives go on outside of the spotlight. It doesn’t matter what kind of person, everyone is effected at some point by trauma either personally or by a loved one dealing with intense trauma. There are a lot of different types of trauma and some are more common in different communities than others, but trauma in general it seems is, part of the basic human experience.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (, or the SAMHSA, defines trauma as “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”

The way trauma affects a person is directly related to their own context or their previous experiences leading up to the traumatic event. No matter what a human is experiencing they always come to a situation with all of their previous memories and ideas  there as a sort of lens to see the new experience through. This doesn’t mean that trauma is worse for one person than the other, but a person’s previous experiences can inform the way a person deals with that trauma.


Facts from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration About Trauma:

  • Between 15% to 25% of women have a lifetime history of sexual abuse be it in childhood or adulthood.
  • Within the different definitions and forms of domestic abuse, domestic violence among women in the United States ranges from 9% to 44%.
  • When RAND Corporation did a study in 2008, they found that almost 19% of veterans returning from their time in the military on deployment or some other kind of mission reported presenting with signs and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Almost 19% of the men in the United States, and more than 15% of women in the United

States report having experienced a natural disaster at some point in their lives.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration tells us that the cost of domestic abuse, intimate partner violence comes out to 8.3 billion dollars in 2003. The cost includes treatment for the medical care and needs of the victim, treatment for mental health rehabilitation for the traumatized victims and the lost productivity of the people who experienced the trauma. Billions of dollars spent isn’t something that is easy to ignore. This shows through the noting of  loss of productivity, that trauma devastates the lives of more than just the person who experiences the event in question, in fact it also hurts the community at large in social and economic ways, by instilling a sense of fear or danger in the community, and thereby depriving a community of a voice and making it more difficult for those who might be leaders and changers in the community, though none the less there are those who are traumatized and are able to plunge ahead in the public effort to fight for traumatized populations. But this kind of strength and persistence is not the usual and requires hope for communities and healing for individuals.

Trauma and Addiction by their very natures are linked to one another. Someone who goes through a great trauma in their lives may be desperate for some kind of peace, some type of easing of their symptoms of pain and likely PTSD, they may feel desperate for anything to offer relief, not weighing the devastation and trauma that addiction can cause, in its own right.


Addicts and Abuse: How Trauma Drives Addiction

Discovery InstituteIt’s hard to argue with the math.  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network shows that trauma and addiction are basically inseparable in their white paper: Making the Connection: Trauma and Substance Abuse ( Someone with a history of childhood trauma is five times more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol and almost fifty percent more likely to develop an addiction to drugs. Studies show that up to 76% of adolescents struggling with drug or alcohol addiction developed their chemical dependency after they experienced some sort of trauma. Many of those who experience trauma also develop a mental health disorder, often post traumatic stress disorder. They may also develop any number of other disorders such as anxiety and depression based mental health disorders. The same studies as mentioned above state that trauma may make it virtually impossible for a teenager to quit the addictive substance because post traumatic stress disorder when combined with substance abuse is a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis must be treated simultaneously with addiction if there is any hope that the treatment will indeed be effective. PTSD, or other kind of mental health disorder present, and the drug or alcohol addiction catalyze each others symptoms as the two disorders bolster each other.


Common Types of Trauma

  • The death of someone close to you
  • Going through divorce as either one of the people espoused to one another, or as a child of parents divorcing
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Rape
  • Domestic abuse as a child or an adult
  • Chronic pain
  • Neglect
  • Homelessness
  • Emotional abuse in the workplace
  • Emotional abuse by a partner or parent
  • Natural disaster
  • Witnessing a violent act against someone else


Sober Living in NJ is Possible for Trauma Victims Struggling with Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Dr. J Douglas Bremner says that “Traumatic stressors such as early trauma can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects about 8% of Americans at some time in their lives, as well as depression, substance abuse, dissociation, personality disorders, and health problems For many trauma victims, PTSD can be a lifelong problem. The President’s New Freedom Commission Report highlights the Importance of providing services for mental disorders related to early trauma.” ( )

According to J. Douglas Bremner, MD, in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, traumatic stress can change someone’s brain chemistry. “Brain areas implicated in the stress response include the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Traumatic stress can be associated with lasting changes in these brain areas. Traumatic stress is associated with increased cortisol and norepinephrine responses to subsequent stressors.” He goes on to tell us that trauma can shrink parts of the brain, it can increase some hormones and chemicals within the body, and even change memory function. Trauma is a medical emergency that is often ignored or shoved aside.


Discovery Institute offers addiction treatment in New Jersey that can work with its patients to treat both addiction as well as mental health disorders concurrently. We believe that it is vital to treat the whole person because we know that it is the whole body and mind that is experiencing this trauma of addiction and any other trauma the patient comes to us with. Contact us now at our drug rehab center in NJ so we can support you through your journey to healing.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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