Many people who struggle with substance abuse have experienced trauma at some point in their lives. A number of different events and stressors can cause a traumatic response in an individual. Whether the trauma happened yesterday or many years ago, the emotional and psychological impact can be profound.
Proper treatment is critical to address the lasting effects of trauma. In this article, we’ll look at different types of trauma and the stressors behind them, and we’ll discuss the value of a trauma-informed approach to addiction treatment.
Types of Traumatic Events
The National Traumatic Stress Network has identified a wide range of events and stressors that can cause trauma.  A few of the most common traumatic events include:
- Sexual abuse or assault
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
- A violent attack or crime
- An accident, injury or serious illness
- Natural disaster
While traumatic experiences often involve a life-threatening event, any situation that makes you feel helpless and overwhelmed can be traumatic, even if physical harm is not involved. Trauma is subjective; an experience that leaves one person traumatized may have little impact on another individual.
Certain risk factors increase the probability of an individual suffering trauma. A person who is under significant stress or who has recently suffered a loss is at greater risk for being traumatized by an experience; individuals who have suffered childhood trauma are also more susceptible to trauma as adults. 
Symptoms of Trauma
Not only are there many events and stressors that can cause trauma, but people also react in many different ways to a traumatic experience. People who are dealing with the effects of trauma shouldn’t feel like their symptoms are wrong or abnormal. There is a wide range of emotional and physical effects. A few symptoms of trauma include:
- Nightmares or insomnia
- Shock or denial
- Feelings of guilt or blaming oneself
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Withdrawing from other people
- Flashbacks to the traumatic event
- Difficulty concentrating
Trauma symptoms may last for a few days, or they may persist for months or years. In most cases, these physical and emotional effects slowly fade as time passes and you process the traumatic experience.
Trauma and Addiction Treatment
There’s a strong relationship between trauma and substance abuse. Experiencing trauma increases the risk of a substance abuse problem later on, and substance abuse can increase the likelihood of experiencing some form of trauma. High-quality addiction treatment centers will take a sensitive and compassionate approach to each client’s treatment, acknowledging the painful effects of trauma and offering an environment that promotes healing. This philosophy toward addiction treatment is known as trauma-informed care.
The effects of trauma can be long-lasting and can interfere with daily life, but treatment is available to help trauma survivors heal. With the right therapy, it’s possible to heal the wounds of trauma and move forward with a healthy, fulfilled life.