Traumatic experiences can profoundly affect people of any age. However, those that experience childhood trauma will have to address its effects for the rest of their lives. There is nothing easy about overcoming the emotional impact of childhood trauma. However, navigating the ways it affects a person’s perspective, attitudes, and development into adulthood is crucial. 

While these traumas are difficult to process on their own, they can also lead to the development of addiction. Tackling these challenges in tandem and understanding how they may continue to inform each other into adulthood is necessary for a truly effective and transformative recovery.

Exploring Childhood Trauma

Childhood traumas can profoundly affect an individual in many ways, informing a person’s personality, beliefs, perspective, and more in adult life. Not all traumatic experiences are the same, and there are many ways in which children can be profoundly and negatively affected during their formative years. Identifying the various forms of childhood trauma is the first step in creating a plan to address and overcome its effects, as well as its impact on the use of addictive substances.

Examples of Childhood Trauma

Some common forms of childhood trauma include:

  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Witnessing or living in an environment with domestic violence
  • Divorce of parental figures
  • Parental substance use
  • Death of a parent
  • Exposure to violence, either at home, at school, or within the community

Each of these experiences can be profoundly difficult to process. It is common that children exposed or subjected to these traumatic experiences may continue to feel their effects later in life, all while informing a person’s propensity to engage with addictive substances in an attempt to process their continued effects.

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The Continued Effects of Trauma

Childhood traumas do not end as a person grows out of their formative years. Experiencing these traumatic experiences earlier in life can exacerbate their effects. 

First, children who are exposed to childhood traumas may have their development directly affected. Many children who experience neglect or abuse may have a compromised sense of self-worth, stunting their emotional development. Social skills can also be difficult to develop while coping with the effects of trauma, leaving those who have experienced childhood trauma with increased feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, and much more.

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Feelings of neglect can further affect an individual if their emotional needs are not met as children, particularly if they do not feel supported or attached to parental figures. Whether the loss of a parent leaves these needs unaddressed or if parents are actively averse to tending to these needs, such as through direct abuse or neglect, the perspective, attitudes, and worldview of children can be greatly affected.

Trauma is not something that goes away over time. Rather, it can continue to impact an individual life until addressed. Professional treatment is necessary to overcome these effects and the use of drugs or alcohol that may accompany them.

Childhood Trauma and Its Effects on Addiction

Addiction is a debilitating disease itself, with even further intense effects when informed by trauma. For some, the use of drugs or alcohol can be wholly normalized in their childhood if there is a parental figure who regularly engages with addictive substances or if drugs or alcohol are common in communities at large. Others may look to these substances to process feelings of depression or anxiety that are prevalent on a daily basis.

The use of addictive substances also forces the release of chemicals in the brain, particularly the “feel good” chemical dopamine. For those who experienced neglect or other negative influences throughout childhood, it can be difficult to find joy or positivity in daily life. The use of these substances may feel necessary to either distract an individual from these experiences and forget about them for a moment or to release this chemical in an attempt to feel good when parental sources or traumatic experiences may otherwise prevent such feelings.

However, this creates a dangerous precedent that can develop into an addiction, both as it may expose children to addictive substances earlier in life and create an unhealthy connotation between their use and a person’s mood. In addition to drugs or alcohol, those overcoming traumatic experiences may also look for outlets in gambling, sex, or other destructive behaviors that can lead to their own addictions and consequences.

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Creating a Healthy Life

Childhood trauma is difficult to process. However, there is always help available. Childhood trauma has lasting effects both on the development of the brain and a person’s worldview to their use of drugs or alcohol to cope with or process these intense feelings. Addressing both the use of these substances and the experiences that inform them simultaneously is essential to create a healthier and sober life. 

Dedicated, trauma-informed professionals are necessary to safely guide an individual through the challenges ahead. Fortunately, there are effective treatment programs in Hawaii that offer personalized recovery programs necessary for addressing the effects of childhood trauma throughout their daily life.

Childhood trauma has profound effects on the lives of children and can continue affecting each person into adulthood. If you or a loved one are overcoming the effects of childhood trauma and are ready to address its effects on your emotional health, mental health, and the use of drugs or alcohol, Hawaii Island Recovery can help you today. We offer a comprehensive approach to each recovery journey, addressing each of these challenges in tandem for truly effective and transformative healing. Backed by a community of peers and individualized case management, our personalized treatment programs in Hawaii can address your unique needs while celebrating each stride through recovery. For more information on how we can help you, call (866) 390-5070 today.