Trauma & Addiction

What is trauma?

What makes an event traumatic? There are two conditions:
-First, there is the nature of the event itself, it usually involves actual or feared deaths or serious physical or emotional injury.
-Second, there is what the event means to the victims

From Life After Trauma: A workbook for healing

Dena Rosenbloom, PhD and Mary Beth Williams, The Guiulford Press, 1999

Trauma survivors may use addictive behaviors as a direct result of their abuse. Both genetic predisposition and a history of abuse may be important for the trauma survivor to understand.

Trauma survivors often have multiple addictive behaviors such as:

Alcohol and drug abuse

Eating disorders

Sex and love addiction

Codependency/relationship addiction

Self-harm such as cutting



Internet addiction

Addiction to chaos

What may be most important about the connection between addictive behaviors and a trauma history is the likelihood of relapse. And often relapse with one or more to avoid pain and/or re-enact the trauma.

From Addiction and Trauma Recovery, Healing the body, mind and spirit

-Dusty Miller and Laurie Guidry, W.W Norton and Co 2001 p.25

I define addiction as the abuse of any activity or substance that enables one to numb themselves from their feelings or surroundings. We can be addicted to people and even maladaptive behaviors. -Melanie