A woman sitting on the couch thinking about the link between childhood trauma and alcoholism.

The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Alcoholism

How does childhood trauma impact you as you mature and age? Without question, the manner in which you experienced your trauma is distinct and unique to only you.

From emotional trauma to physical trauma to sexual trauma, experiencing an event in which you felt helpless or terrorized, or in which you thought you might be seriously injured, can elicit a variety of responses.

Due to the subjectivity associated with an experienced trauma and varying definitions of traumatic experiences and events, subsections have been created in order to better identify the type of traumatic experience you may have lived through:

These include:

  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
    This form of trauma can develop after a person has been exposed to a terrifying event or has been through an ordeal in which intense physical harm occurred or was threatened. Sufferers of PTSD have persistent and frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal.
  • Complex Trauma
    This form of trauma happens repetitively and often results in direct harm to the individual. The effects of complex trauma are cumulative. The traumatic experience frequently transpires within a particular time frame or within a specific relationship, and often in a specific setting.
  • Developmental Trauma
    This form of trauma begins during a child’s first three years of life. The result of abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment, developmental trauma interferes with the infant or child’s neurological, cognitive, and psychological development. It disrupts the victim’s ability to attach to an adult caregiver.

While all of these examples of trauma highlight the varying ways in which a person can experience a traumatic event, or patterns of events, they also can be applied specifically to childhood.

Children who suffer from childhood traumatic stress are those who have been exposed to one or more traumas over the course of their lives and develop reactions that persist and affect their daily lives long after the events have ended.

These traumatic experiences can be both emotional and physical, leaving deeply rooted mental health issues and addictive patterns within a person’s life.

This means of coping, or self-medicating, can instill a life of substance addiction as the person searches for hope or relief in all of the wrong areas. Understanding how childhood trauma and addiction interact can educate and empower you to not only address your underlying traumatic stress, but also identify healthier methods of coping with personal stress and addiction.

Does Childhood Trauma Lead to Alcoholism?

Various studies have identified a connection between childhood traumatic experiences and alcohol addiction later in life.

Researchers have found that traumatic events experienced as a child significantly increase the potential for subsequent alcohol use disorders and that the severity of the childhood trauma was directly linked to the severity of their alcohol addiction.

These studies help in proving that genetics alone do not account for an individual’s proclivity toward addiction, and they provide an effective roadmap for subsequent therapeutic interventions.1

By the Facts: The Link Between Childhood Abuse and Alcoholism

While recent studies have delved into the correlation between childhood traumas and alcoholism later in life, there are a number of direct facts connecting the comorbidity between the experienced traumatic stress and subsequent alcohol use disorder. In one particular study, it was identified that:

  • Sexual abuse was associated with an increased likelihood of alcoholism, while emotional abuse was associated with an increased likelihood of depression.
  • Patients being treated for alcoholism were likely to have experienced one or more types of childhood abuse or neglect.
  • Studies have found that alcoholics have higher self-reported rates of physical and sexual abuse in childhood than people in the general population.

These findings indicate a connection between a person’s childhood traumatic events and their development of an alcohol addiction later in life.

While everyone experiences traumatic events in different manners, understanding how past traumas may be directly impacting the perpetuation of your current addiction is essential to overcoming its hold and attaining power over your substance use disorder.2

The Importance of Choosing the Right Treatment Facility

Deciding to begin your recovery journey is an amazing decision, but researching and identifying the most appropriate therapeutic facility to guide your path is foundational to sustaining your personal success and sobriety.

That is why choosing a treatment center capable of addressing both your substance addiction and traumatic stress is necessary to achieving long-term health and happiness.

Focus on facilities that employ clinical staff licensed and trained to handle mental health and substance addiction issues. Evaluate all available client reviews and schedule a meeting to speak with their clinical team directly before agreeing to receive treatment at any location.

This is not only about overcoming your past traumatic experiences, but it is also about achieving sustained sobriety and longstanding happiness.

Taking the time to vet treatment facilities early on can ensure that your recovery journey is well-rooted and that you transition seamlessly into a comfortable and supportive therapeutic environment.

Holistic Addiction and Mental Health Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

The trauma you experienced and the addiction that may have entered your life has deeply affected your mind, body, and spirit. Because of this, these vital pieces of your being must be given the support and nurturing they need to fully heal.

At Ranch Creek Recovery, we understand that dealing with a co-occurring disorder in any form is an extremely difficult task to face, but there is proven, life-changing help for you.

We take a holistic, non-12-step approach to alcohol rehab and mental health disorders to help you achieve mental stability, quit your addiction, and learn vital, effective skills to avoid a relapse.

Learn more about our holistic and luxury alcohol addiction treatment program and our dual diagnosis approach.