Addiction and Trauma

I appreciate everyone's responses. I think I waited a bit too long to acknowledge them one by one, but I've read them all and have found valuable stuff in all of them. Manipulated, I agree with you on how charged the term 'addiction' can be. I attend AA, but when I introduce myself, I say, "I'm [insert name here], and I struggle with addiction and alcohol." The reason is because saying "I'm an addict" seems so much like a master identity. But even more than that, I don't think of addiction through moralistic or disease models of addiction. I think of addiction as an adaptation, especially when the roots are in trauma. "Adaptation" doesn't really render judgement on the individual, and it also leaves room for hope - it suggests a type of plasticity that doesn't leave one stuck in a 'white-knuckling' phase for the rest of their life. I appreciate you bringing that up, because it makes me think about many of the comments that followed yours. I'm especially interested in the idea of a 12-step program that centralizes trauma as a major contributing factor. I think much of the language of AA would be far too harsh, and the 12 steps themselves would look very different. I'm curious if anyone wishes to comment further, what they'd imagine a 12-step program like that to contain.

Thanks again, everyone. I appreciate all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. :)

Me Not Me

“But I also believe trauma survivors shouldn't be focused on "character defects", doing "moral inventories" or "making amends".”

Visitor, that is an excellent point. Many of us need to learn how to not focus on and magnify our supposed flaws. We need to, as you often remind us, embrace self-compassion and self-care.
Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I only recently started drinking more heavily to provide temporary suppression of thoughts/feelings surrounding my CSA. My abuse started when I was ten & lasted over a year (I'm now 43). Immediately following my abuse, middle school & high school, & most of my adult life I avoided drugs altogether or drinking too much because I was afraid of losing conscious control, which could lead me to accidentally disclose my secret. Very recently confided in my wife & started therapy, so a little less need to be cautious & definitely drinking more. Just my perspective if anyone else had similar concerns regarding loss of control surrounding substance abuse.
I avoided drugs altogether or drinking too much because I was afraid of losing conscious control, which could lead me to accidentally disclose my secret.
Thanks for sharing this. When I read it, I can relate to it. Even though I've struggled with addiction nearly my whole life, I've also had periods of sobriety. During those periods, I actually had visceral reactions to the thought of drinking with friends. I didn't want to lose control. Then during times where I was actively taking pills and/or drinking, that was also about control, but in a totally different way. It really does seem to me that control often plays a big role with this.
if anyone else had similar concerns regarding loss of control surrounding substance abuse
I started to drink before I was 10 and by 12 I was smoking cigarettes, pot and getting dunk. It just got worse intro to hard drugs by a perpetuator, 15 16 and 17 I was totally addicted to Crystal meth. After 8 months in and adult prison at 17 I didn't touch those kind of drugs again. I continued to smoke pot and did more LSD and mushrooms. In my 20's left all the drugs behind and pot behind and went to drinking to excess to pass out at night. The only time I didn't drink to pass out was at sea working on fish boats, coniyuned to drink in excess until in my 40's and my doctor told me if I would quit drinking he would treat my pain. I did for about 5 years and then started to have a beer everyone and then and that lead to drinking a drink of brandy almost every night. I was hardly sleeping and my Psychiatrist suggested that it maybe part of the reason. So now I don't drink anymore maybe have a drink with company. I use Medical Cannabis now and it is helping me but took a few other medications to allow me to sleep. I sleep fair now on most night and sometimes good. I have to much medication and am trying to leave some behind. The problem is when ever I drop one I find out it was helping me so I go back onto them. Having to take all of this medication is depressing, it is better than drinking to pass out.

I think I have already kind of told you this before. I wish you all the luck and strength it is going to take and know you can talk to me about it anytime my friend
I may have posted this before but it seems apropos to this conversation... 12 Steps of Trauma Anonymous... a mythical program... but at least these are steps to which I can relate.

12 Steps of Trauma Anonymous
  1. Acknowledged the reality of trauma we experienced that made our lives unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe embracing self-compassion and self-care could relieve us of our struggles.
  3. Turned to the healing power of acceptance and love, trusting them to show the way to healing.
  4. Acknowledged how our struggles to meet life often contributed to suffering for ourselves and for others in our lives.
  5. Sought support from others who experienced trauma, sharing our struggles with them and asking for support.
  6. Accepted that healing is possible, that shame can be released.
  7. Humbly invited kindness and healing to come into our lives.
  8. Considered those harmed by our struggles and how we might heal those relationships, including the relationship with ourselves.
  9. Made amends when called for, using the occasion to deepen connections with those people capable of acknowledging our pain and wishing to support our healing.
  10. Stay attuned moment to moment to how the residue of trauma might affect us, taking care of ourselves so we might remain available for life, intimacy and community.
  11. Invited connection with the natural world, with our most intimate selves and with those in our life to support the beauty and integrity of our being.
  12. Having found peace through our efforts of healing the wounds of trauma, we offer support to others still struggling with the effects of trauma they experienced. Together we get better.