Trauma and Prescription Drug Use

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October 19, 2022

Whether it happened recently or when you were a kid, past trauma can serve as today’s substance abuse trigger. There is a deadly connection between trauma and addiction.

If you or a loved one is using prescription meds to deal with past trauma, know that help is available.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is more than a bad experience. It’s a single event or a series of incidents that have a long-lasting impact on your mental, emotional, social and physical well-being. Childhood abuse, sexual assault, parent neglect and military combat are common examples, but trauma can result from other experiences, too. 

If your mind and body view something that happens to you as harmful or life-threatening, the event will trigger an intense stress response. Your body will release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. 

These bodily chemicals are essential in emergencies, but they can become toxic in high concentrations. Your mind may try to cope with the trauma by covering it up, but the signs of the event can still come out in a wide variety of ways, such as:

  • Drastic mood shifts and inappropriate displays of emotions.
  • Erratic behavior.
  • Ongoing anxiety or fear.
  • Excessive irritability or agitation.
  • Hypervigilance, or the feeling of always being on guard.
  • Continually reliving the event.
  • Issues with social and romantic relationships.

Why People Use Prescription Drugs When Dealing With Trauma

Traumatized people are more likely than others of similar backgrounds to misuse addictive substances like prescription drugs. Often, those who have experienced trauma and not sought treatment are left to deal with undiagnosed mental health issues, including acute stress disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Using prescription meds may be a well-intentioned yet self-destructive attempt to find relief. 

While self-medicating with prescription drugs may offer temporary distraction, opioids ultimately lead to serious problems down the road. Once your body becomes dependent, traumatic symptoms can intensify. Sleep becomes less restful. Feelings of anger and depression grow. Anxiety and hypervigilance escalate. Plus, once addiction takes hold, there’s not much you can do to break free from these drugs on your own. 

Treatment for Trauma and Substance Abuse

If you’re using prescription drugs as a means of dealing with trauma, we want to help you find freedom. At AppleGate Recovery, we specialize in comprehensive medication-assisted treatment that can help you overcome the cravings and withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction. 

We also provide compassionate counseling. Discussing the traumatic things that have happened in your life with a professional counselor can help you learn what to do with your feelings and memories without turning to prescription drugs. 

While we can’t change what happened to you, we want to help you move forward from it. Contact us today to learn more.