Healing From Addiction and Childhood Trauma at Buena Vista Recovery

May 3, 2023

Written By: Buena Vista Recovery

If you have experienced childhood trauma, you can be impacted in multiple ways. This includes negative changes in your mental health and an increased risk for addiction. Fortunately, if you have a history of trauma and are struggling with addiction, you can heal. Treatment at Buena Vista can help you to address the root causes of addiction, including trauma. By addressing, processing, and beginning to heal from your trauma, you can decrease your risk of relapse and improve your mental health now and in the future.

Childhood Trauma and Addiction

Trauma describes your response to an event you either witnessed or experienced. It can include physical trauma, emotional trauma, and many others. While it is normal to feel upset during a traumatic event, childhood trauma can cause lasting effects on how you feel and how you function. This is often due to the lack of support for healing as a child and the changes that occur in the brain due to childhood trauma.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains that childhood trauma is a risk factor for nearly all behavioral health and substance use disorders (SUDs). As a result, childhood trauma can have long-term effects on your life. There are multiple theories on the connection between childhood trauma and addiction. However, an effort to self-medicate and the physical changes in the brain due to trauma both play a role.


When you have experienced childhood trauma, you can have many symptoms far into adulthood. This includes the following:

  • Self-harm
  • Dissociation or feeling disconnected from yourself
  • Social and interpersonal problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep issues

Your symptoms will be unique to you and your history. However, they can be overwhelming and impact your daily life. As a result, it is common to use substances as a way to self-medicate your symptoms. This may include using substances to dull emotions, change your energy, or manage anxiety.

In the beginning, self-medication can work. However, in the long run, self-medicating for the symptoms of childhood trauma can increase the severity of symptoms. In addition, the need for substances to medicate your emotional pain can play a role in your addiction. While addiction is physical, it is also emotional, and the patterns of substance use to dull emotions also need to be addressed in treatment.

Physical Changes

Trauma at any point in your life can impact your mental health and how you feel daily. However, childhood trauma has a bigger impact because it occurs during a period of brain development. Childhood trauma disrupts the chemicals that function as messengers in the brain. In doing so, it increases your stress response both as a child and as an adult. This can lead to feeling more stressed and having a hard time managing stress from normal stressors in your life.

Additionally, the changes that occur in the brain can impact your ability to connect with others. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in bonding with others, social affiliation, and trusting other people. However, if you have experienced childhood trauma, your oxytocin levels will be low. Therefore, these physical changes may decrease your likelihood of having meaningful relationships that provide support.

The physical changes from childhood trauma impact your ability to connect to a community and the severity and frequency of your stress response. Both of these factors, community, and stress, play an important role in relapse and addiction. Stress is a common trigger for relapse. Additionally, a lack of community can leave you without the support that you need to heal from addiction and trauma.

Healing From Childhood Trauma and Addiction

The process of healing from trauma can feel like a long road. However, multiple methods can help you manage your symptoms and ultimately heal from your past trauma. These methods often include medication, therapy, and other methods of processing. While your treatment will be unique, it will help you to work through your past trauma, integrate it into your life, and move forward.

Addiction treatment will also be unique to suit your needs. However, it will often involve detoxing to heal from physical addiction and therapy that addresses underlying behaviors, feelings, and beliefs that play a role in your addiction and substance use. This might include improving communication, addressing and feeling repressed emotions, and learning how to manage triggers for both trauma and substance use.

If you have a history of childhood trauma and struggle with addiction, you can heal. Treatment at Buena Vista Health and Recovery Centers can help you to get to the root cause of your addiction and substance abuse. This is vital for you to achieve lasting recovery and build a better future for yourself. Your healing journey will be unique. However, everyone deserves a chance to address the deep root causes of their addiction and achieve lasting recovery.

As psychological research progresses, it is more and more clear that brain function is altered as a result of childhood trauma. Therefore, childhood trauma can leave a lasting impression on your life. At Buena Vista, we understand that finding the root causes of addiction is necessary to heal. We help clients to address underlying issues that result from childhood trauma, trauma in adulthood, and more. Our programs can help you learn the skills to manage symptoms of trauma and put you on a path toward long-term recovery. Ultimately, you will find more happiness and satisfaction in your daily life. If you are struggling, we can help. Call us today at (480) 741-9414 to learn more.