Having concerns and questions about mental health disorders and their connection to addiction is valid. There is a link between trauma and substance abuse.

Trauma impacts a person’s ability to cope with stress and suffering. Unbearable and unmanaged stress may lead to addiction as a person seeks to numb themselves and withstand the trauma. Their ability to cope is exceeded, and they abuse substances to get through the ordeal.


Definition of Trauma

Trauma is a biological stress response to an event or circumstance. It compromises the brain’s ability to function and potentially leads to psychiatric disorders such as severe depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 


According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (www.samhsa.gov), “individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”


Trauma: Acute, Chronic, or Complex 

There are different types of trauma. Acute trauma refers to a single incident, while chronic trauma is prolonged and repeated. Multiple, various traumatic events are considered complex traumas. 


Symptoms of trauma

Trauma presents differently in each individual. People may experience:

  • Disbelief
  • Mood swings
  • Anger
  • Guilt or shame
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Disconnection or withdrawal
  • Numbness




Addiction by itself cannot be treated without addressing potential co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and trauma. The whole person needs to be treated. Finding a treatment center that specializes in diagnosing complex mental health disorders and substance abuse is essential for the healing process.


At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.