How Trauma Contributes To Alcohol Addiction
“You can’t process or overcome a trauma when you’re still going through”
Most of us can relate to this, as, if you’ve spent any length of time in recovery, you’ll appreciate that *all* of us have the underlying trauma that goes with addiction.
Why The Pain?
As Gabor Mate says – don’t ask “why the addiction”, but instead ask “why the pain?”
It takes time to pass, before we can:
(i) come to terms with what’s happened
(ii) adjust our daily lives to account for this
(iii) then, later, take the learnings and wisdom from it.
It’s not until later in the addition journey that I was able to actually fully realise to what extent my traumatic past (I won’t bore you with the details…..today (lol)) actually contributed to my actively developing addiction.
At the time of course we just believe “this is life”, “this is what happens to people” or worse “I deserve this somehow”.
Nowadays I realise, that even through there are often negative consequences in the outside world as a result of trauma, there is no negative malice or negative intention inherent inside any one event – but sometimes we interpret it like that at the time.
And it’s how we react to this interpretation – what we think it means, either about us, or about life, that then leads us to addiction, quite simply, in order to cope.
When I relay this story at meetings, I either get the glassy-eyed, nodding “yes of course I know what you mean” look, (no, she really doesn’t), or, if I run it past, say, one of the more experienced alcoholics in the room, I’ll usually get a more wistful response.
Demons Don’t Need to Be “Conquered”
Understanding your own demons and conquering them is a life-long thing to navigate, and although we can never really claim to know or understand the impact of life events on our addiction, we can certainly begin to fear them less.
In my experience having the addiction recovery community around me has helped me realise that the demons aren’t really there to be “conquered”.
There is no enemy within.
It’s only when we realise that it’s *understanding* that we need – to overcome powerless, fear, helplessness, and all our other perceived problems in addiction, that the cogs being to shift internally, and changes begin to happen in the outside world.
It doesn’t make the trauma at the time any easier to deal with of course, but later, in hindsight, we can look back at what seemed at the time to be a gruelling ordeal, that would surely last forever, and with the wisdom of age becomes an event that had to happen, to provide a certain learning, or so that something else, much more positive, could take place in life.
Often times I feel like we’re so consciously focussed on “being positive” and staying “upbeat” about recovery that we forget that the old traumas actually do have positive value – in the right light.