River Ridge Recovery

How Trauma Informs Addiction

How Trauma Informs Addiction

What is Trauma?

Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Trauma may take many forms throughout life including but not limited to neglect, abuse, death or near-death experiences, and instances of extreme violence. In any case, it has a long-term effect on the person who experiences it. Often, traumatic experiences can lead to addictive tendencies. Research suggests that there is a strong correlation between trauma and addiction. Below are some of the most common types of trauma and how they relate to addiction.


Abuse is really a blanket term that covers a wide variety of acts. Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Physical abuse encapsulates all of the physical pain inflicted upon a victim. Emotional abuse refers to behavior that causes emotional distress. And sexual abuse most commonly denotes rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment. All of the above may lead to addiction as a way of coping. The emotional and physical strain of abuse causes stress which is often dealt with by addicts through substance abuse. Turning to substances neutralizes the stress they feel regarding their abuse. All-too-often abuse that happened during childhood informs addiction in adulthood.

Death & Grief

The emotional toll that grief takes on a person can lead them down a dangerous path. When someone close to an addict dies, suffers from serious illness or injury, or becomes incapacitated in some way, it can cause a great deal of emotional stress, depression, and anxiety. In order to counteract these feelings, addicts will turn to substances to numb their pain. This does not do anything to actually help the grieving process, and usually prolongs it.

Other Traumatic Events

There are a number of other traumatic events that may result in addiction. Near-death experiences or incidences of extreme violence or danger may leave victims unable to cope. Natural disasters, car accidents, crime, and other events can have long-term effects on the brain. Flashbacks, recurring dreams, and vivid hallucinations may all result from these events, causing the victim to seek an escape. For addicts, this escape from the memories of trauma is the use of mind-altering substances like drugs and alcohol. They self-medicate to dissociate from reality. Although this may provide the illusion of temporary relief, it ends up doing a great deal of long-term damage.

Trauma-Informed Treatment in Minnetonka & Burnsville

All instances of trauma have adverse effects on their victims, and all the emotional distress that comes with trauma is valid. However, the addiction that often sprouts from trauma is not healthy and must be addressed. If you or a loved one have encountered trauma or are dealing with addiction in Minnetonka or Burnsville, MN, please do not hesitate to contact River Ridge.

Upcoming Events

April 2022

Legacy Meetings - River Ridge Recovery Alumni

Every Wednesday

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

4555 Erin Dr Suite 100, Lower Level Eagan, MN 55122

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4555 Erin Drive, Eagan, MN 55122 Upper Level Entrance, Suite 200


4205 Lancaster Lane N, Suite 101 Plymouth, MN 55441




Fax: 952-894-0882