The correlation between females experiencing trauma and those struggling with alcohol addiction is concerning.
Approximately 50% of all people will endure some form of trauma in their lives, with women finding themselves statistically more likely to experience sexual trauma and intimate partner violence.
According to recent studies, nearly 30% of all women will suffer some form of violence during an intimate relationship, while 35% will experience sexual abuse at some point in their life.
To think that over a third of all females living within the U.S. will endure these traumatic, violent experiences is socially disheartening.1 It is no wonder that the addiction rates among women experiencing traumas are as staggering.
Over the years, multiple studies have focused on the correlation between alcohol addiction and experienced trauma, with nearly 75% of all respondents divulging that they have been the victims of either sexual or physical trauma throughout their lives.2
So, why are traumatic experiences and addiction so closely intertwined? Do men and women experience trauma in different manners? What are the best methods of treating post-traumatic stress and a co-occurring alcohol addiction?
Starting from the perspective that men and women are emotionally and behaviorally unique, requiring an individualized therapeutic approach and personalized clinical interventions is foundationally essential.
Is Female Trauma Different from Male Trauma?
To sum up the manner in which females and males differ in their experiences of trauma, a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics researched traumatic events according to gender and discovered:
- Approximately 20-35% of all childhood sexual assault victims are male
- Approximately 65-80% of all childhood sexual assault victims are female
- In adulthood, nearly 100% of all sexual assault victims are female3
While sexual victimizations during childhood show some parity, the statistics into adulthood highlight the manner in which females find themselves more susceptible to not only sexual traumas, but also violent interactions in general.
To contrast this perspective, males encounter their fair share of traumatic events in a different way, including combat trauma, natural disasters, and disasters caused by humans.
However, the rates of long-standing traumatic stress show that 5-6% of men develop serious emotional issues during their lives compared to 10-12% of women.
The primary difference separating men and women and their traumatic experiences is the prevalence of sexual traumas impacting women.
Victims of sexual trauma are statistically more likely to be diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and develop severe emotional issues impacting their daily interactions and increasing their predisposition to alcohol addiction and other substance use disorders.4
The Link Between Women, Trauma and Alcohol Abuse
The connectivity interlinking women who endure a traumatic experience and their potential to develop an addiction to alcohol is fundamentally rooted in the need to self-medicate.
This is due to the emotional impact that trauma can have on a person, including re-experiencing the traumatic event through:
- Increased susceptibility to depressive symptomology
- Excessive feelings of anxiety
- An overall desire to simply numb the pain
Without receiving supportive clinical treatment for the trauma endured, the stressors and emotional weight of the experience will grow like a cancer.
For many, this often results in excessive alcohol consumption in the hopes that the feelings and traumatic stressors will simply go away over time.
Unfortunately, this is not how post-traumatic stress works, so instead of dissipating, the symptoms associated with the event continue to grow, increasing negative emotionality and driving a woman deeper into alcohol addiction.
Female PTSD and Alcohol Abuse As Co-Occurring Disorders
Someone struggling with clinically diagnosable mental health issues and a substance use disorder is said to be dealing with a co-occurring disorder.
These two disorders interact and feed off of each other, exacerbating the symptoms associated with each and providing potential complications throughout the treatment process.
The key is to identify all existing symptoms through an extensive diagnostic assessment and collaboratively formulate a comprehensive individualized treatment plan in order to accurately address any and all experienced symptoms associated with both disorders.
For anyone beginning their recovery journey, it is imperative to divulge any traumatic experiences influencing or impacting alcohol consumption in order to begin the rehabilitative process effectively.
What Can You Do?
Whether your traumatic experience is fueling your alcohol consumption, or your alcohol addiction influenced a traumatic experience; the fact is you need help.
Trying to overcome something as debilitating as post-traumatic stress through self-medicating and emotional neglect is an act of futility. It can leave you lost within your addiction and overwhelmed by your traumatic experience and subsequent stress.
Finding a treatment facility that can address every component of your co-occurring disorder is the key to once again discovering happiness through effective clinical therapy and addiction rehab.
While there is no quick fix to a co-occurring disorder, finding peace is well within your reach. You just have to discover the right path in order to start your journey toward health, happiness, and sustained sobriety.
The Faith-Based Alcoholic Recovery Program that Caters to Women’s Needs at Covenant Hills
Unfortunately, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, women are less likely to seek alcoholism treatment. Additionally, women often seek generalized mental health therapy, rather than an all-encompassing addiction and mental health treatment program, which tends to result in weaker treatment outcomes.5
At Covenant Hills, we believe that women can get the life-changing help they need through a gender-specific environment that’s led by an experienced, compassionate staff of women who both understand and relate to the issues that each of our female clients present.
Through our faith-based women’s dual diagnosis treatment center, we specialize in helping women who suffer from alcoholism, while also addressing any emotional or psychiatric issues that may be contributing to the addiction problem.
You can work towards living an addiction-free lifestyle.
1Woman’s Health Matters. Trauma is a women’s health issue. Accessed January 25, 2019. https://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/health-centres/mental-health/trauma/trauma-is-a-womens-health-issue/.
2Stephanie S. Covington. Women and Addiction: A Trauma-Informed Approach. Accessed January 25, 2019. https://www.stephaniecovington.com/assets/files/CovingtonSARC5.pdf
3U.S. Department of Justice. Criminal Victimization, 2016: Revised. Accessed January 25, 2019. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv16re.pdf.
4Psychology Today. Why Women Have Higher Rates of PTSD Than Men. Accessed January 25, 2019. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201809/why-women-have-higher-rates-ptsd-men.
5National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Gender and Use of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. Accessed January 25, 2019. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh291/55-62.htm.