Is drug addiction the result of childhood experiences? One researcher thinks it could be. Dr. Daniel Sumrok from the Center for Addiction Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine has examined the link between childhood experiences and substance abuse — and the results are surprising.

What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Someone with alcohol or drug addiction could have experienced adversity in childhood, according to Dr. Sumrok. In fact, addiction could be a normal response to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). When children grow up in particular environments, they are more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol in adulthood.
A stigma still surrounds people who struggle with substance abuse problems. Sometimes, society blames them for their addiction. It’s the person’s fault, they say. They brought it all on themselves. Dr. Sumrok’s research suggests the opposite. Instead of drug addiction being a choice, people with substance abuse problems might have experienced traumatic experiences during childhood that changed their brain chemistry.
“It’s the trauma of childhood that causes neurobiological changes,” he says.

Changing Perceptions Toward Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Dr. Sumrok’s research is changing perceptions toward drug and alcohol addiction. If substance abuse is the result of ACEs, people can overcome their addiction with medication assistance, cognitive therapy, and group therapy. Plus, people who have a substance abuse problem will no longer have to feel shame about their addiction.
Other research also suggests that childhood experiences can increase the likelihood of addiction in adulthood. When children grow in an unstable environment, for example, they exhibit certain behaviors that they carry into adulthood. Children who participate in risk-taking behavior, in particular, might try to recreate this excitement when they become adults.
“Active children who rush into new experiences also would likely be more at risk to experiment with drugs/alcohol as adults than less active children because they might see drugs as new and exciting, not potentially dangerous,” says Dr. David Rice from American Addiction Centers.

How to Overcome Childhood Experiences

Not all rehab centers take into account a person’s childhood experiences when they provide treatment. Some centers see drug and alcohol addiction as learned adulthood behavior, for example. Others are quick to prescribe medication without providing any counseling to the patient whatsoever.
Serenity View does things differently. This Princeton, TX-based treatment center considers childhood trauma when creating personalized treatment plans for their patients, which can boost recovery rates and reduce relapse. Addressing childhood problems can prove useful for someone who struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and is looking to identify the root cause of their substance abuse problem.
Serenity View uses a wide range of different methods to identify and address problems from childhood that might have contributed to someone’s substance abuse problem. These methods include group therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
“Through a combination of one-on-one counseling sessions, group therapy, and complementary recovery activities, we provide a full, meaningful schedule of therapies proven to effectively reduce relapse rates and promote long-term recovery,” says Serenity View.
Research suggests that childhood experiences can influence drug and alcohol addiction later in life. People with a substance abuse problem, therefore, should seek out a rehab center like Serenity View that takes into account childhood trauma and other factors. Click here to find out more.