The long-lasting effects of childhood abuse

There are few things that will more deeply and continuously effect a human being than childhood physical/sexual abuse.

The correlation between it and developing an alcohol or drug dependence is variously reported in professional journals to be from 75-90 percent.

When trauma occurs, fundamental developmental changes take place. Trust, the cornerstone of every relationship, is broken.

The belief in the world as a friendly, supportive place is shattered and replaced by hypervigilance to try to prevent the same from happening again. Attachment, the developmental process that teaches us how to engage with, and be mutually supportive of, other human beings, becomes a condition to be feared because vulnerability must be avoided at all cost. 

What is left is a recipe for a life of pain.

Their view of the world is as a dangerous place. They avoid relationship intimacy because people are not to be trusted.

Vulnerability is not possible because of the awful, out-of-control feelings associated with it. Hypervigilance and constant scanning of the environment replaces the ability pay attention over a significant length of time.

Feelings become expressed in extremes, or totally internalized, with little ability to moderate them.

In short, a promising, prosocial human being becomes doubtful of self, introverted except for outbursts and lonely, even in a crowd, because they fundamentally avoid connection to avoid experiencing more pain and fear.

Take the person and conditions described above and introduce them to drugs and alcohol and their feeling of relief will be almost indescribable. The self-loathing is reduced.

The feeling of fear and pain is dulled by the substances and, as their inhibition falls, they imagine themselves to be socially comfortable and entertaining. Having found this “holy grail”, the race is on to get that feeling “on demand” knowing, though falsely, that relief is just a drink, or a pill, or a joint or a snort away.

Over time, dependence develops until one day, the survivor of physical/sexual abuse discovers that they just can’t stop.

Now, what they came to believe early in life is confirmed; they really are as ‘bad’ as they thought. They begin to believe that maybe they deserved what happened to them.

This, of course, isn’t true, but the known and convenient way to address that much shame and guilt is, of course, to use drugs and/or alcohol. And so, the cycle continues.

This is the reason Decision Point Center uses psychiatric and psychological professionals to thoroughly assess for trauma. The high incidence of trauma as a precursor to the development of an addiction is a known fact. To not assess and address trauma during addiction treatment is, literally, to put a band aid on a gash; treatment will look good for a while, but it won’t last.

We use cutting-edge techniques and protocols within EMDR to address trauma in a timely and complete manner. And our EMDR clinician is second to none.

If you or a loved one is in need of help, please call Decision Point at (844) 801-5310 or visit www.decisionpointcenter.com for more information.

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