Why Sexual Trauma Can Trigger Substance Abuse Later in Life

When people think of childhood sexual abuse, they may not often like adult disorders that go along with that. There are many cases that go unreported, so people never receive the mental health services they require. This includes help for depression, substance abuse, and addiction. It is easier to think of women as victims of abuse than men, but young boys are suffering sexual trauma at earlier ages, requiring specialized care and support to navigate the trials of this down the road into their teens and early twenties. Find out why this trigger it is associated with addiction later in life and how to support a loved one who needs help.

Young Onset for Drug Use

Drug abuse can start early with survivors of childhood sexual abuse, around 14 to 15 years of age. Many young people turn to drugs to help them cope with and to mask the past they have tried to run away from. Child sexual trauma may increase the risk of drug abuse, which might also be used to:

  • Increase sense of self-worth
  • Cope with mental problems
  • Deal with feelings of isolation and loneliness
Mental Health Issues

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse may feel deeply that they are unloved or not lovable unless they have something of value to others. Mental health issues can arise from the feeling they are not as valuable as they are. Other reasons persist that they cannot shake and make them feel:

  • Depressed, with periods of prolonged sadness, crying, feelings of hopelessness, lack of interest, and pleasure in activities they used to like. Depression can negatively impact daily functioning and result in poor school and work performance.
  • Anxiety is an emotional state that results in persistent fear and worry. Anxiety is associated with fear abuse will start again. Some survivors experience fear of going in public and lock themselves in their homes. Others may have panic attacks and not be able to go out.
  • PTSD and other issues may also arise, that contribute to addiction feeling like it is the only way they can heal their wounds. A person with PTSD may feel they are not able to function without having support from professionals because of recurring bad thoughts, ideas, and nightmares
Recovery Road Home

Recovery from sexual trauma takes time and does not happen overnight. Children who have experienced trauma from sexual abuse often report feeling shame, depression, guilt, and self-blame. Drugs are only temporary relief as they don’t erase all the memories of what happened. Young people need resources when they are younger, but many do not always get it. Teens often get counseling and put a wall of resistance. Working through pain can pose a challenge. Substances only fix things for a little while but do not erase the past. Survivors can learn healthy coping skills and become a beacon of hope to young people who travel a path to healing.

The Last Resort understands the multiple needs of people we treat. We treat mental health, physical health, and the soul to help a person find a plan that works for their needs. Recovery is multi-faceted and requires support from everyone. We are here to help you and your loved ones move forward with hope. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.