If you hear a doctor talk about substance use disorder, then essentially, what they’re talking about is addiction. The two terms don’t mean precisely the same thing, but they describe similar situations. Someone who has either received a diagnosis of substance abuse disorder or who has been deemed an addict by a qualified medical professional is going through more or less the same struggle.

Substance use disorder can easily cross the line into full-fledged addiction. Someone with it may depend on alcohol or some other drug to get them through their days. They may be a functional addict, though. That means they can function relatively well in their normal life, even if they need to use their chosen substance every day or nearly every day.

What impact does trauma have on someone with substance abuse disorder, though? It’s a subject worth talking about, so let’s do so now.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is a catch-all term that includes many different conditions or situations. In the broadest possible sense, trauma means going through something difficult. That could include something like a divorce, a car wreck, being robbed at knifepoint, getting attacked by a dog, or just about anything else difficult to process that might come to mind.

How Does the Injection of Trauma Into Someone’s Life Change Their Existence?

Various individuals deal with trauma differently. Some of them that are mentally strong can get past it with relatively little difficulty.

Others might be completely paralyzed by it. How someone deals with trauma usually boils down to how traumatic the event is and how mentally resilient the person turns out to be.

How Does Trauma Impact Someone Who Already Struggles with Drugs or Alcohol?

Someone with substance use disorder is already leading a difficult life in some ways. They may have worked out a way to use their substance of choice every day or nearly every day, but they can still sometimes maintain a kind of equilibrium. It might go on for years that way. They’re damaging themselves with their addiction or dependency on alcohol or drugs, but they may never reach a crisis point.

Even someone who uses drugs or alcohol sparingly, or not at all, can find their life in a tailspin after going through a traumatic experience. Anything like the scenarios we mentioned might force that person to turn to the bottle or some other drug as a way of coping with what happened to them.

As you might imagine, someone who already has a problem with drugs or alcohol may be in an even worse condition after going through a traumatic experience than someone who didn’t have that problem previously. The situation might have put enough stress on them that they go overboard with substances and reach a tipping point.

Someone who maintains their equilibrium even when using drugs or alcohol every day might face a crisis if you factor in trauma as well. Don’t be surprised if that combination leads to an overdose or something equally deadly.