Unresolved trauma increases stress and can also trigger mental health conditions, such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. 59% of young people who have PTSD also struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Despite their illegality, psychoactive substances are easy to obtain, and alcohol is readily available. By 8th grade, one in three U.S. teens has experimented with drugs or alcohol. Earlier use of drugs or alcohol is also positively correlated with an increased risk of lifetime addiction. For individuals of traumatic experiences, they will often turn to substances to find relief from their symptoms.
Many different studies have found that substance use follows a traumatic experience in up to 76% of cases. These studies have also indicated that people who use drugs or alcohol to cope with trauma or PTSD have a more difficult time stopping use than people who do not use drugs to cope with trauma. Being exposed to events, places, or people that trigger symptoms of PTSD or remind users of their traumatic event increases drug or alcohol cravings.
For teenagers and youth who turn to substances to treat the effects of trauma, they are putting themselves at increased risk of experiencing more traumatic events. So, trauma leads to addiction, and addiction also leads to more trauma.