mini Vanity logo with white letters

Sexual Abuse and Addiction: Does Trauma Contribute to Substance Use?

Fearing Child

We've All Experienced Some Form of Trauma In Our Lives

The following contains sensitive material regarding sexual abuse and its aftereffects.

Arguably the most egregious trauma is in the form of sexual abuse. It doesn’t discriminate and the resulting trauma often forces its victims to turn to substance abuse.

Sexual Abuse And The Aftereffects

Simply put, sexual abuse is a sexual act or behavior that is forced upon someone without their consent. Most of us think of rape and molestation when we hear the term, but non-contact sexual acts such as exposure can be just as damaging. 

In a male-dominated society, it’s more common for women to be victims of sexual abuse than men. However, the abuse oftentimes stems from trauma at an early age. Children carry this trauma into adulthood with negative effects. In fact, roughly 1 in 6 boys (16%) and about 1 in 4 girls (25%) are sexually abused before they turn 18. This number is likely substantially higher, due to unreported cases.

These are just a few of the major repercussions that we face after encountering sexual abuse:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness and Isolation
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm

As one can imagine, these can have a devastating effect on our mental state and can very well lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Certain sights, sounds, or even smells can trigger a flashback to the traumatic incident itself. This can make it nearly impossible for us to have stable relationships or hold down a job and can even put a strain on the family dynamic.

How Sexual Abuse Can Lead To Addiction

Victims of sexual abuse will often turn to alcoholism or drug addiction to cope with the trauma and negative emotions. We self-medicate as an escape from reality, but the truth is, we can’t escape reality no matter how hard we try. Being a drug addict or developing an alcohol use disorder further strengthens a dual diagnosis – our trauma coupled with the addiction itself. 

To put this into context, 75% of women who enter addiction treatment centers say they have experienced some form of sexual abuse. Digging deeper, 90% of women who suffer from alcohol abuse were sexually traumatized as a child, sometimes even violently. 

How Vanity Can Help You Get Your Life Back

Sometimes victims blame themselves for the sexual abuse trauma that they’ve faced. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Here at Vanity Wellness, we are committed to proving that to you.

At our rehabilitation center and sober living, we offer a variety of addiction recovery options led by licensed professionals to make you feel whole again. For example, our Individual Intensive Therapy and Trauma Therapy programs are designed specifically in a way where we can help you become you again. 

If you want to branch out and explore a group setting, Group Therapy could be just what you’re looking for. In a safe, judgment-free environment, our patients are encouraged to share their stories. The support that our patients receive from one another can’t be understated. Building stronger socialization skills will eliminate the lonely, isolated feeling that sexual abuse survivors often feel.

While dual diagnosis treatment may seem impossible, together we can make it possible. By treating the cause of the sexual abuse, it will be much easier to treat the resulting addiction. Along these same lines, psychiatry has been effective in analyzing dual diagnosis and learning to manage co-occurring issues.

We at Vanity Wellness Center truly sympathize with your struggle. Together, we can boost your self-esteem, and get your confidence back. Our goal is to help you get back on your feet, no matter how many steps you’ve taken.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *