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Is there a link between early trauma and addiction?

The link between early childhood trauma and the onset of addiction in later life, I think, is undeniable. A copious amount of research has shown a direct correlation between traumatic experiences in childhood and addiction later in life. Whilst addiction masks the primary issues, the addiction becomes the identity of the persons all round being. The addictions display themselves in many guises, ranging from drug addiction and alcohol misuse, process addictions like sex, pornography, gambling and shopping addictions through to eating disorders and a wide range of addictive attachments and behaviours. Through these, the individual is aiming to fill the voids, or perceived hopelessness within their lives.

What each individual is attempting to achieve is to ideally fill the void created by the absence of bonding, nurturing and protection in childhood. The underdeveloped attachment is frequently caused by childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse, trauma, mistreatment and neglect.

The individual is not necessarily seeking the chaos that comes with addiction but rather looking at filling a void that has been plaguing them throughout their entire existence. While the addictive personalities do vary, the ideal aims are similar the addict has a desperate desire to feel, to experience, to be attached. Whilst what they are seeking to fulfil may vary, the idealistic hope of feeling, experiencing, and being alive is true in a majority of cases.

Early childhood trauma has consequences for how humans respond to stresses in their lives, and as most of us know stress plays a huge part in addiction. We are born into families who sometimes do not have the emotional maturity to parent, we are subjected to dysfunctional, volatile relationships and educational upheaval sometimes parental substance misuse and neglect. We have no say in this and the responsibility is not our property, it’s how we are conditioned as children. We haven’t been given the tools to learn to cope with the chaos that sometimes goes on around us, and we have got the verbal ability to articulate and express or needs and worries. As we grow and we attempt to express our needs, we are sometimes ignored, and we seek solace in comfort with the group of people that may be detrimental to our development, we seek out other damaged people, who may introduce us a world that we are unfamiliar with, and in order to fit in we comply to their way of life, as we have spent our wholes lives attempting to fit in and be part of. We find another dysfunctional family.

It may take years to break free from the cycles that we find ourselves in, it may take interventions from criminal justice, mental health and therapeutic services again and again to finally get the support and nurturing we truly require and a process that works to break the habits and behaviours that we have become familiar with and attached to.

Early childhood intervention is a luxury that some children miss out on and, services are oversubscribed and underfunded and unfortunately some children fall through the cracks. There is a tool I was recently informed of called The Adverse Childhood Experience test, I personally thought this was an excellent tool for parents, professional and other individuals to gauge and identify trauma, it may open people up to facing the issues they have experienced, and hopefully look to find therapeutic support that will help them, let go of old patterns and behaviours, end the cycle of dysfunction and put them on the right track to recovering in order to have a fulfilling, happy life.

Kids Company get therapeutic support for their Young Adults and Families.

Camila Batmanghelidjh and One40 Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centres work together on providing rehabilitation treatment from addiction.

One40 are committed to supporting the Kids Company young adults and their families, in continuing to offer accessible detoxification treatment programmes and therapeutic addiction programmes for drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders and process addictions. Family therapy and individual care are open to the Kids Company Children via a bursary that was set up in 2014.

Camila Batmanghelidjh chief executive of the charity Kids Company was instrumental in accepting the One40 bursary, recently publishing the benefits and outcomes of this partnership.

Camila Batmanghelidjh wrote:

“The therapeutic rehabilitation centre One40 approached Kids Company in 2014 to offer their programme to some of our young people suffering with substance addiction. This was a phenomenal offer, because we see great numbers of teenagers who abuse drugs in an attempt to numb the overwhelming emotional side effects of their trauma. Rehabilitation is long, painful and incredibly draining – on a mental, physical and financial level.

So far, One40 has opened its doors to four of Kids Company’s young people. Each one successfully completed the detox. Two of the four stayed with the provision for a number of months; one is now headed for university in September, the other is holding down a job in London and is rebuilding his relationships with friends and family. Both are clean and viewing life with refreshed confidence, determination and hope.

It is magical when experts come forward to offer their support, providing tangible solutions to the children’s problems. One40 have provided these individuals with a priceless gift – the chance of a fulfilling, drug free future.

To the wonderful team at One40 – behalf of the young people you have helped, we are forever grateful.

Gavin Cooper Founder of One40 agreed “One 40 are delighted to have been able to help these clients and look forward to further supporting the great work that Kids Company do”