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How Trauma Impacts Men with Addiction

Jun 11, 2020

A man living with a substance use disorder may recognize its impact on his work and family, but he may not see how something not yet diagnosed could be contributing to the problem, even worsening it. When the undiagnosed condition relates to trauma, a man can feel that it’s something to endure rather than face and his attempts to stay sober might feel more challenging. Today, let’s talk about addiction in men as it relates to traumatic experiences and how to identify the kind of treatment a man needs to effectively begin recovery.

Undiagnosed trauma in men can contribute to substance use disorders at any time in their lives, even long after the traumatic experience itself is over. Men may have hidden it out of a feeling of shame or a means of emotional survival. For men who have developed a substance use disorder as trauma survivors, multidisciplinary programs for these co-occurring disorders are available at facilities offering dual diagnosis treatment with accompanying trauma therapies.

Trauma wasn’t a choice you made.

Trauma in any form is something that happened to you. For some men, it came as physical or sexual abuse. For others, it was emotional abuse or a combination of different types of abuse. It was not a choice you made — it was something out of your control.

You may hide trauma as a means of survival.

You may have chosen to keep traumatic experiences to yourself or avoid thinking about them because they’re painful. Perhaps you didn’t let people around you know because you might have felt shame or you thought that they wouldn’t understand. For you, it was about surviving the trauma in any way possible. This is a common experience that many men face, and you are not alone.

You haven’t been given opportunities to talk about trauma.

It’s likely no one has invited you to talk openly about your trauma, whether they knew about it or not. Your family might have avoided any conversations about it out of their own guilt or shame. The people closest to you might not have been aware it was part of your past as they didn’t witness it or hear about it.

You haven’t been diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

You might have experienced a trauma as a child but never saw a therapist or physician because of it. The trauma you suffered at one time could have been exacerbated by new traumatic experiences later on. The lack of an official diagnosis does not make the trauma any less real or any less disruptive in your life.

You’re beginning to see how trauma correlates with your substance use.

Trauma that is unaddressed in men can contribute to coping behaviors to manage the feelings associated with the trauma, whether they’re aware those behaviors are self-destructive or not. You may have experienced a variety of symptoms, such as denial, confusion, fear, anxiety, shame, disconnectedness, or withdrawal. Your response to these symptoms may have led you to begin using substances to self-medicate or increase the use of these substances to the point you became dependent on them and noticed signs of withdrawal when you attempted to stop using them.

You’re beginning to understand treatment for both substance use disorder and trauma are vital for your health and well-being.

For men with PTSD, you may have experienced more severe symptoms related to your trauma, including insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares, intense fear, or suicidal thoughts. As you begin to recognize how trauma has shown up in various ways in your life, affecting your relationships, your work, and your health and well-being, you may become aware of substance use as your only “strategy” for managing overwhelming symptoms of trauma.

You understand a specialized form of treatment is necessary now.

Your recovery from a substance use disorder is dependent on your commitment to address both your use of drugs or alcohol and the underlying mental health condition that’s been contributing to the SUD. In a setting offering dual diagnosis treatment with additional trauma therapies, you can learn how to respond to the feelings associated with trauma in healthy ways while working with addiction specialists on a recovery plan to help you end your dependence on substances.

Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-875-1558.

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