Trauma is a shared experience among many people all around the world. Trauma stems from a deeply disturbing event or series of events that can cause emotional, physical, or mental distress. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA), about 60% of men and 50% of women will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives.

Trauma can also present as post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). PTSD is a longer-term form of trauma in which people have recurring flashbacks or relive that event as if it were occurring in the present with the same emotional and mental distress. 

PTSD can happen to anyone and is also very common. Additional research from the USDVA states that about 15 million adults have PTSD during a given year and that about six percent of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. 

Common Causes of Trauma

While there are many experiences in one’s life that can lead to trauma, some common types of trauma can be caused by: 

  • Sexual assault
  • Domestic abuse
  • Natural disasters
  • Childhood neglect
  • Terminal illness
  • Mental, emotional, or verbal abuse
  • Accidents
  • Witness of violence
  • War

There is a link between trauma and substance abuse. In general, research shows that people who have experienced trauma are four times more likely to become addicted to alcohol and four times more likely to inject drugs. This trauma can be experienced as an adult or during childhood. According to information from MentalHealth.gov, early exposure to trauma can also contribute to developing a substance use disorder(SUD). 

Additional research shows that “PTSD and substance use disorders(SUD) are prevalent and frequently co-occur.” Individuals who have PTSD are up to 14 times more likely to experience substance abuse. Veterans who have PTSD have a higher risk of having the co-occurrence of PTSD and SUD. Research from this study also reports that veterans who were deployed in Iraq for three to four months had a “27% prevalence rate for alcohol misuse.”

Types of Trauma 

There are many types of trauma. The three main categories include: acute, chronic, and complex. 

#1. Acute Trauma

Acute trauma results from an isolated event that occurs one time. Examples include sexual assaults, car accidents, or natural disasters. This event is distressing enough that the individual’s emotional, mental, or physical being is threatened. 

#2. Chronic Trauma

Chronic trauma results from distressing events that repeatedly happen over a short or long period. Those that experience this type of trauma often experience it from someone they love. Examples include child abuse, war, sexual abuse, or domestic abuse. 

#3. Complex Trauma

Complex trauma is the most severe form of trauma and results from recurring, long-term events. Examples include severe long-term illness, bullying, sex trafficking, and neglect. 

Symptoms and Warning Signs of Trauma

If you are wondering if you or someone you know may be experiencing trauma or have been suffering from PTSD, a few symptoms and warning signs that may help you identify trauma include: 

  • Increased self-isolation
  • Extreme emotional highs or lows
  • Constant sickness or body aches
  • Exhaustion
  • Severe changes in behaviors or mood
  • Difficulty with maintaining relationships
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Feeling of hopelessness

Seeking Treatment to Heal From Trauma 

If you are suffering from trauma and need ways to help you cope, consider the following:

  • Try avoiding caffeine or the use of stimulants
  • Make practicing self-care a priority
  • Develop a community of family and friends you can rely on
  • Be patient with yourself; healing from trauma does not happen instantly
  • Participate in activities that you enjoy more often

In addition, if you or someone you know needs help healing from trauma and are suffering from a substance use disorder, it is essential to receive professional support and seek a treatment center that can address your specific needs. Finding a facility that offers trauma-informed care as part of their treatment framework is key to recovery success. 

Trauma-informed care programs consider that individuals suffering from SUD are more than likely to also suffer from trauma. These programs are curated to recognize and respond to the effects of trauma to better support the patient’s recovery journey. 

Common trauma-focused therapies for PTSD include cognitive processing therapy (CPT), prolonged exposure, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is one of the most effective approaches for individuals overcoming traumatic experiences.

At Hawaii Island Recovery, our team of treatment professionals is trained in the provision of trauma-informed care. We create a safe and supportive space to help our patients cope with untreated trauma, depression, and anxiety. 

Many people experience trauma. It is a universal condition that most men and women will experience over their lifetimes. While some traumas are a result of a single event that can be easily processed, other traumas are more distressing in nature and may need the help of medical professionals to overcome. It is important to note that there is a link between trauma and substance use disorder(SUD). People who experience trauma are four times more likely to suffer from a drug or alcohol addiction. For those with post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), the risk of developing an addiction is even greater. If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma and substance abuse issues, Hawaii Island Recovery is here to help. Our treatment center has a team of professionals trained in the provision of trauma-informed care. We are here to assist you in getting the help you need. Call us today at (866) 390-5070.