childhood trauma and addiction

7 Statistics on Childhood Trauma and Addiction – And How to Get Help

Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Trauma can be a psychological disturbance, a physical event, or even an emotional response to something unsettling.

Common traumatic event examples include abuse, neglect, violence, and even homelessness.

While we all may experience trauma at some point in our lives, the amount of children who face trauma is alarming.

Children are at the most vulnerable point in their lives, even until the age of 16. This is why traumatic events will affect their lives, potentially leading to serious problems such as addiction.

Here are 7 alarming statistics on trauma and the link between childhood trauma and addiction.

The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Addiction

While we don’t fully understand addiction, we do know certain biological and environmental factors influence one’s likelihood of developing an addiction.

Trauma is one of these factors. Here’s how we can link childhood trauma to addiction.

Emotional Trauma and Psychological Distress

As a child, every aspect of your body is developing.

Your brain and mental processes are heavily influenced during these years. Emotional and psychological distress can cause a disruption in your brain structure, and a major culprit of this disruption is trauma.

Neurological Anomalies

The human brain takes on an important role called plasticity, which is the process of responding and adapting to environmental stimulation. This comprises of creating, strengthening, and even discarding neural connections.

These neural connections influence the way the brain functions. In short, positive environmental stimuli results in positive brain functions. Negative environmental stimuli, such as trauma, results in negative brain function.

7 Alarming Statistics About Childhood Trauma

From abuse to neglect, too many children suffer from awful situations at a young age. Many people may not realize how common this issue is. These 7 statistics will open your mind to the terrible effects of childhood trauma.

1. 683,000 Children Were Neglect and Abuse Victims in 2015

Yes, you’re reading this number correctly. Over 680,000 children were victims of neglect and abuse in 2015. Unfortunately, that number isn’t getting smaller. If anything, child abuse statistics are on the rise.

“Neglect” and “abuse” are broad terms. This can include lacking medical treatment, neglecting basic needs (food, water, clothing, etc.), physical abuse, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse.

About 80% of this treatment comes from the child’s own parents.

2. Two-Thirds of Children Will Report At Least One Traumatic Event

The vast majority of children will suffer from at least one traumatic event. Most will experience trauma before they reach the age of 16.

Traumatic events are most commonly abusive and neglectful events. But trauma isn’t only limited to these situations. Other traumatic events include an accident (such as a car accident), a natural disaster, and even war.

Many children also endure the death of a loved one and health turmoils, either affecting themselves or a loved one.

3. 1 in 4 High School Students Will Endure Physical Violence

Abuse in the home isn’t the only type of abuse young people will experience.

Violence is a common occurrence in schools. From fist fights to mass school shootings, the school is no longer a safe haven.

Most of these violent episodes include physical violence, such as fights. These occur with and without weapons. But other examples include sexual battery and rape. In addition, threats are also included in these statistics.

Factors that influence school violence include school management policies, location, academic achievement, and even the number of students.

4. The Number of Youths Hospitalized for Abuse-Related Injuries Could Fit Nine Stadiums

Each year, thousands of children are hospitalized for injuries relating to abuse.

This number could fit nine stadiums. The majority of football stadiums sit slightly less than 70,000 people. That means almost 700,000 children are hospitalized for abuse every year.

Some of these injuries are minor, such as cuts, bruises, and even slight burns.

Other injuries are severe. These include head injuries, bone fractures, and internal damage.

5. 43% of Girls and Boys Have PTSD

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is common amongst childhood trauma victims. This is why almost half — 43% — of both girls and boys suffer from this condition.

PTSD is a condition characterized by flashbacks of a traumatic event. This incites panic and depression. 

PTSD sufferers develop an addiction to endure their disorder. For drugs, such as cocaine, between 8 and 43% of users have PTSD.

PTSD makes it more difficult to treat addiction.

6. 1 in 6 Students Experience Bullying

Today, bullying encompasses the trauma you experience at school and the trauma you can experience digitally, called cyberbullying. Repeated bullying can cause stress for victims.

This is why many bullied students experience mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety as adults.

This can lead to addiction and many bullied victims commit suicide.

Bullying is a long-standing epidemic in our school system. Experts are trying to alleviate the problem, taking drastic measures to implement new behavioral strategies. Unfortunately, bullying still persists.

7. 2/3 of Addicts Experienced Childhood Trauma

After reading these statistics, it’s not surprising why youths who were trauma victims develop an addiction in their adult years. That’s why the majority of addicts experienced childhood trauma.

Common examples of the trauma they faced include sexual and physical trauma. But these aren’t the only examples. Many addicts endured death in the family, neglect, family history of mental illness, and domestic abuse.

As mentioned previously, this negative stimulation causes negative brain activity.

This is why childhood trauma victims likely develop an addiction.

Drug and alcohol addiction aren’t the only examples. Trauma victims experience all types of compulsive behavior, including sex addiction, gambling addiction, and even an eating disorder.

Did Your Addiction Stem From Childhood Trauma?

The link between childhood trauma and addiction is not one we completely understand. But experts can help those in need.

Are you an addict who suffered childhood trauma?

You’ll have to target both the addiction and the underlying cause to achieve sobriety. If you’re based in Costa Mesa, California, we can help you. Take a look at our addiction treatment services.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.

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