Do you ever wonder why some people develop an addiction while others do not?
What causes addiction? Why do some people develop an addiction while others do not? This is a complex answer, but some answers can be understood by taking a look at trauma and the emotional hurt or pain that someone has experienced as a result of difficult life experiences.
Dr. Gabor Mate (2019) identifies that empirical research shows that the more trauma or the more difficult experiences that one has during childhood, the more likely that they will experience difficulties with addiction. The caution here is that not everyone who has experienced trauma or difficult experiences during childhood will develop an addiction, but it may mean that every person who is coping with addiction has experienced some sort of trauma or a difficult experience during childhood or throughout their life (Mate, 2019). Similarly, while addiction does have a tendency to run in families, that a genetic predisposition for addiction, does not mean that one will necessarily develop an addiction even if it runs in their family (Mate, 2019).
This is where trauma and difficult experiences impact genetics. For example, if an individual has a predisposition for addiction, experiences multiple deaths within their family, and does not know how to cope with these losses in their life, they are at increased risk of developing an addiction. Similarly, if a child grows up in an environment where a parent is depressed and cannot validate their feelings because of their depression, they are at increased risk of developing an addiction. It is important to remember that sometimes hurt and trauma is obvious such as the experience of a car accident, while at other times, it is harder to identify such as the feeling of anger.
Sometimes nature and nurture both matter when it comes to one’s ability to cope in healthy ways to trauma and difficult life experiences. It is for this reason that addiction is not a choice that one makes. It is often related to things that are outside of an individual’s control such as genes, hereditary traits, who their parents are, transgenerational trauma, a parent’s mental health, trauma, and difficult experiences throughout life. This is why addiction is so persistent and why it affects many people: friends and family, employed and unemployed, those with housing and those living on the streets, teachers and students, adults and youth, etc.
So, if you find yourself feeling stuck and unsure how to handle your substance use/abuse issues, begin by looking at not what is wrong with you as a person, and instead, begin by looking at what you have gone through and what you have experienced in your life (Gabor Mate, 2019). Resolving emotional hurt and trauma is a protective factor in working through addiction and substance related issues.
Kristen's areas of interest in clinical practice include mental health, addictions, grief and loss, trauma, anxiety, depression, as well as cultural competency and couples and family therapy. Kristen recognizes that throughout life we all travel on a continuum of health and wellness, and also recognizes that at times it is difficult to admit that we all struggle with mental health-related issues. Through her client-centered, Emotionally Focused Therapeutic approach and ability to be present with those that she works with, Kristen can listen without judgement. To book with Kristen, click here.
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