Childhood trauma, whether it’s witnessing violence, being close to addiction or even sexual abuse, has been proven to be the root cause for many health condition including addiction. There are many theories as to why this can happen so in this guide we explore the intricate relationship between childhood trauma and addiction, delving deep into the different types of childhood trauma, why they might potentially lead to addiction and we’ll also offer some advice for ways to heal and prevent such situations.

If you or someone you know suffered from childhood trauma, remember there is help out there. In fact, at Nova Recovery, we have supported many individuals who are struggling to come to terms with their past and together we have paved the way for a life filled with hope and opportunity.

Types of Childhood Trauma

There are many different types of childhood trauma, each of which can leave a huge mark on a child’s psyche. Some of the most common types of trauma in childhood include:

  • Physical abuse: Including injury or bodily harm. This can also include exposure to violence, whether it’s in the household or wider community.
  • Emotional abuse: This includes constant criticism, verbal assault and humiliation – again either within the family, at school, or in the community.
  • Sexual abuse: Inappropriate sexual conduct or exploitation.
  • Neglect: This is where adults or caregivers fail to provide the most basic needs like food, shelter, or emotional support.

Latest figures from the NSPCC, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, found that over half a million children are abused in the UK every year. What’s more, in this digital age, a new form of abuse is growing called online abuse. Indeed, the Internet Watch Foundation said more child abuse images and videos were now found online, increasing year on year.

How Childhood Trauma Can Lead To Addiction

There have been many studies about the connection between childhood trauma and addiction. In fact, researchers say that those who have experienced childhood trauma are more likely to develop addictions and a substantial number of adults in UK rehab treatment programs report a history of childhood abuse or neglect. This includes physical, sexual, emotional abuse and even witnessing similar violence and abuse in the home.

Most notably, the Adverse Childhood Experiences study in England found that those individuals who had four or more ACEs were more likely to develop harmful and risky behaviours like smoking, alcohol consumption and substance misuse. The Mental Health Foundation also found that 14.4% of the UK’s population have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and that many of these cases could be linked to early trauma as a child.

There is also what’s called as maladaptive coping which is when trauma victims adopt certain coping mechanisms such as substance misuse in order to numb their pain and distress. What’s more, studies have also found that trauma can affect the brain’s development of certain areas which are responsible for stress regulation and impulse control. This alone makes someone more susceptible to addiction. Strained relationships and social isolation, two common side effects of childhood trauma, can also contribute to addictive behaviours as can emotional dysregulation – which is also common in those who have experienced childhood trauma of some kind.

Recommendations For Healing And Prevention

Like any trauma, it often requires a multifaceted approach to heal and prevent any physical and emotional side effects. There is a range of therapy and counselling available including psychotherapy which can help individuals to process and overcome traumatic events as well as discover new and healthier ways to cope with any emotions regarding it. You may also be prescribed medication to manage any co-occurring mental health conditions and support groups, available in the community and at rehab centres, can help you to connect with others who have had similar experiences.

It’s also a good idea to maintain a healthy lifestyle to ensure you are as healthy as can be, both mentally and physically. This includes regular exercise, nutrition and mindfulness which can all help you to build resilience and improve overall well being. One thing to remember is that you are never alone, and if you are struggling, there is always someone here to help. Plus, at Nova Recovery, we’ve helped so many people just like you and our friendly team is here to do the same for you.

Addressing Childhood Trauma: A United Effort

As such a prevalent issue in the UK, official bodies are now working together to prevent childhood trauma and also help those individuals to rebuild their future. Currently, government bodies and non-profit organisations are working to solidify child protection legislation, enhance reporting mechanisms and promote appropriate safeguarding policies. Plus, there is greater emphasis on education and training for parents, caregivers and educators. Not only to foster awareness but to intervene earlier if needed.

In addition to this, there is a drive for additional investment into mental health services across the UK in order to provide timely and effective support to children and young adults who are grappling with trauma. It’s hoped that additional support and intervention early on will prevent these individuals from experiencing addiction later on in life.

Heal From Addiction With Nova Recovery

At Nova Recovery, we specialise in helping those people suffering with addiction stemming from childhood trauma. We offer a range of specialised services that address the needs of every individual. This includes detoxification, therapy, and even aftercare support. Whatever you need we are here to guide you on your journey to healing and recovery, while ensuring a brighter and addiction-free future.

Indeed, by understanding the link between childhood trauma and addiction, recognising certain mechanisms that indicate a problem and seeking appropriate help and treatment, healing from childhood trauma is possible and individuals can rebuild the life they’ve always wanted. If you have any questions or want to discuss how we could help you personally, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

Back to all posts

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: September 29, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.