Pain and Trauma in Addiction
Healing from pain and trauma is as much a part of recovery as getting sober is. Addiction can cause a lot of pain and trauma in a person’s life that can be physical or emotional. Of course, many people develop addiction in the first place in attempt to cope with pain or trauma they have already gone through.
As addiction takes over, people do hurtful things to loved ones and even strangers if it allows them to continue drinking and using drugs. This causes feelings of shame, guilt, and depression. Addiction can be very isolating in this way, which also can lead to depression.
In active addiction, you stop caring for yourself properly and neglect your health, causing disease and injury. Regard for safety goes out the window as you put yourself in dangerous situations that result in physical and emotional harm. Engaging in abusive relationships is more common if you are in active addiction.
In fact, it’s common for people to develop PTSD during active addiction because of trauma they experience that is never processed in a healthy way.
In recovery, getting over pain and trauma is one of the most challenging aspects of the healing process. While acknowledging and accepting pain is an important first step, learning to reframe pain can be helpful down the road.
How have you flourished in lieu of struggle?
Reframing our struggles can help us to see the positive and bring us to greater levels of acceptance.
Philosophy Reframes Pain
Cornel West happened to write an essay called “Prophetic Pragmatism” that touches on the topic of pain and hardship in a valuable way.
[A]ll human struggle … calls for utopian energies and tragic actions, energies and actions that yield permanent and perennial revolutionary, rebellious, and reformist strategies that oppose the status quos of our day. These strategies are never to become ends-in-themselves, but rather to remain means through which are channeled moral outrage and human desperation in the face of prevailing forms of evil in human societies and human lives.
West argues here that revolution, reform, and progress are caused by human struggle.
Discontent with the human condition is what inspires “utopian energies” and efforts to imagine the world as a better place. It seems on a smaller scale, that growth within ourselves can also be inspired by struggle.
Many people who go through addiction, for example, turn around and work in the field of recovery once they are sober. They are inspired to improve the therapeutic services offered to others who are suffering with addiction. They are driven to help remedy the pain of addiction through aiding others.
C.S. Lewis also has something to say on this subject: “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
He’s not wrong about that. In many ways, we grow as people from pain and struggle. This of course is never to say that it is a good thing that we experienced that pain. The truth is that trauma should never have to be experienced. That doesn’t mean, though, that we should discount the growth it may have inspired.
Growth from Pain
In society, there are many examples of growth originating from pain. Every political revolution in history came about due to struggle and suffering. In more recent history, consider the “me too” movement. Those traumas were horrible and it isn’t fair that they happened. Yet, the exposure of them to the public has sparked activism for women’s rights and punishment of sex offenders like never before.
Another example that is closer to addiction is the opioid epidemic. The massive amount of deaths to opioid overdose in recent years is horrible. This tragedy, though, has led us to question pharmaceutical companies and drug distribution. Now, many of these companies have been exposed and sued. Lawmakers are working to pass legislation that can help resolve the current epidemic now.
On a more personal level, consider the X-Men character, Wolverine. He was tortured in his youth and experimented on. If you ask me, he has some serious PTSD. His pain has helped him to become brave and fearless, though. These experiences helped him to be strong in the face of pain, and to help people who are weak and defenseless.
Okay, I know Wolverine isn’t a real person… but his story is a great metaphor for this subject.
Healing from Addiction
If you or a loved one need help getting sober or healing from the pains of addiction, there are a lot of resources out there. Call (877)670-8451 to talk to someone who knows all about rehab and addiction recovery. They will help you figure out what the next step is.