Trauma As the Cause of Addiction

Trauma As the Cause of Addiction.

As I heard recently Gabor Mate MD state in a talk on the collective trauma summit, he is getting paid to state the obvious. It seems so obvious to me that trauma is not only the driver of addiction, but is the driver of so many things we consider to be dysfunctional.

The reason that people may disagree with this is that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what trauma is.

When we carry large amounts of pain (trauma) in our body's living becomes a nightmare. Just being here becomes so uncomfortable that we seek to relieve the pain. Its actually hardwired into us to seek relief from pain. And what better way to relieve our suffering than drugs.

I can relate to this personally having had a long history of addiction to heroin and other drugs. I used to say to my parents that if I don't have large amounts of heroin in my system, it feels like I have walked in and found my whole family dead.

In other words, my fight flight freeze response was triggering every moment, I was in a constant state of panic and fear. And the only way I could relieve that was putting a very strong painkiller into my bloodstream as many times a day as possible.

If we understand trauma, we understand addiction. Addiction is not a disease in the sense most people think of it as. Unless we understand that trauma actually effects the body and the brain, we will continue to just see it as its own disease and untreatable.

If we learn to look at what drives a behaviour, instead of the behaviour itself, we have a chance at resolving it.

If we look at addiction as a symptom of trauma, we can take a compassionate approach. I have never met a person suffering from substance abuse that isn't in some kind of emotional pain. Some are in heavy denial about the pain, and others the pain is very unconscious but none the less its there.

Lets start talking about this topic, please.


Matt Nettleton

Senior KI Facilitator and Trainer

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