Undiagnosed Trauma Can Fuel Addiction

by baladmin | May 27, 2014

Undiagnosed Trauma & Self Medicating

The dually diagnosed client is a person who is suffering from one or more mental illnesses while at the same time being actively involved in a substance abuse addiction.

Trauma is a debilitating mental illness and is similar to the experience of PTSD. In an effort to alleviate the suffering, individuals will sometimes self medicate with alcohol or drugs prior to being diagnosed with a mental disorder such as PTSD or Trauma.

PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is one of the many underlying mental illnesses that can be found in a dually diagnosed client.

The medical definition of PTSD is a psychological reaction that occurs after experiencing a highly stressing event (as wartime combat, physical violence, or a natural disaster) outside the range of normal human experience and that is usually characterized by depression, anxiety, flashbacks, recurrent nightmares, and avoidance of reminders of the event—abbreviation PTSD; called also delayed-stress disorder, delayed-stress syndrome, post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Balboa Horizons treatment center is renown as a top dual diagnosis treatment center located in Orange County, California. The outstanding treatment team is expert in discovering the underlying issues a client is suffering with that can contribute in full or in part to the dual diagnosed addiction.


Trauma is defined as a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury. Much research has been done to support the need of addressing early childhood trauma that may unconsciously be fueling the client’s substance addiction. If a client is suffering with an undiagnosed mental illness and actively engaged in substance abuse, there is little chance for lasting recovery unless the underlying issues are addressed. This is why the best choice for a treatment center is one that has the clinical experience to properly assess the client’s needs.

Symptoms of Trauma

People who go through these types of extremely traumatic experiences often have certain symptoms and problems afterward. How severe these symptoms are depends on the person, the type of trauma involved, and the emotional support they receive from others. Reactions to and symptoms of trauma can be wide and varied, and differ in severity from person to person. A traumatized individual may experience one or several of them.

Triggers and cues act as reminders of the trauma, and can cause anxiety and other associated emotions. Often the person can be completely unaware of what these triggers are. In many cases this may lead a person suffering from traumatic disorders to engage in disruptive or self-destructive coping mechanisms like drug or alcohol abuse, often without being fully aware of the nature or causes of their own actions. 

Research Found Talk Therapy Works

One aspect of the treatment programs offered at Balboa Horizons includes talk therapy. Research has found that individuals who experienced maltreatment in the past and were willing to talk about their painful experiences thoughts and emotions, were less likely to have PTSD symptoms one year later.

Talk therapy is utilized in both individual and group settings at Balboa Horizons Treatment Center. In recovery you will hear people say, “We are as sick as our secrets”.   Discovering and disclosing underlying secrets in a safe and supportive environment is the beginning of the healing and recovery process.

If you or someone you love is exhibiting symptoms consistent with trauma and/or addiction. Please call Balboa Horizons today for help.

We are here for you!  1(866) 316-4012