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What Causes Addictions?

No one is absolutely certain what causes addiction, leading medical professionals to theorize extensively. One of the theories is from Dr. Gabor Maté, an addiction expert. He says that the root cause of addiction is trauma. We’ve all heard of the “chicken or egg” dilemma. The same argument can be said for those with addictions. Did the addiction form because of a traumatic event, or did the traumatic event happen because of the addiction? Some people will try to cope with their traumatic event by turning to substances. Some people end up in high-risk situations for trauma because they are engaging in substance use. While it can be challenging to figure out which came first, we know one thing for sure: people using substances struggle to cope with traumatic events. 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have studied ACEs and have found an interesting correlation: those with drug addictions have very high percentages of childhood trauma. Here are some examples of Adverse Childhood Experiences:

  • Injury
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Fractures
    • Burns
  • Mental health
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Suicide
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Infectious disease
    • HIV
    • STDs
  • Chronic disease
    • Cancer 
    • Diabetes
  • Risky behavior
    • Alcohol and drug abuse
    • Unsafe sex
  • Opportunities
    • Education
    • Occupation
    • Income

There are also some interesting findings associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences:

  • For each occurrence, the risk for early initiation of substance abuse increased 2 to 4 times.
  • People with 3 or more ACEs have higher rates of alcohol, drug abuse, depression, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and heart disease.
  • People with 5 or more ACEs are 7 to 10 times more likely to become substance users.
  • Almost 2/3 of IV drug users report abusive and traumatic childhood events. 

Addiction and Trauma

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has also done studies on addiction and trauma. Here are their findings:

  • 75% of people in substance use treatment report histories of abuse and trauma.
  • 97% of homeless women with mental illness report reserve physical or sexual abuse.
  • 12%-34% of people in substance abuse treatment have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • About 1/3 of people exposed to trauma develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Villa Tranquil Recovery is here for you if you have histories of traumatic experiences or are abusing substances. We can help. Call us now at 866-697-7573. We want to help you today. Call now.