No parent wants to see their child become addicted to drugs or alcohol. However, many individuals who develop substance use disorders later in life have a history of untreated trauma in their childhood or teenage years. If your teen has experienced trauma, a trauma treatment program can lead to a healthy future.
Understanding Untreated Childhood Trauma
When a child or teen goes through a deeply frightening experience, they might experience a long-term impact on their mental and emotional health. Childhood trauma can lead to changes in:
- Brain development
- Coping skills
- Relational skills
- Emotional responses
- Physical health
What often happens is that the full impact of childhood or teen trauma only begins to make itself clear later in life.
Teenagers have increased amounts of autonomy and independence. They’re better able to make decisions for themselves – even when those decisions are unhealthy or dangerous.
A teenager with untreated childhood trauma is far more likely to engage in risky behavior like skipping school, having sex, breaking the law, and using drugs or alcohol.
The Connection Between Unresolved Trauma and Addiction
Unresolved trauma and addiction are deeply connected. Trauma involves experiencing difficult, unwanted emotions that negatively impact health and happiness. Trauma often leads to additional mental health concerns like depression or anxiety and can result in flashbacks, panic attacks, and nightmares.
An individual who uses substances may experience a sense of escape, numbing, distraction, or freedom from traumatic memories and the associated thoughts and feelings. This is why teens with untreated trauma are at a higher risk of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Neither trauma nor addiction resolves without professional help. If you believe your teen is struggling with untreated trauma, or you think they’re developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, they need professional help before things get worse.
Signs Your Teen Needs Help for Untreated Trauma
If your teen is struggling with untreated trauma, you may be dealing with behaviors that leave you feeling frustrated, confused, angry, or concerned. The following signs are indicators that your teen needs you to connect them with mental health professionals that can help them process untreated trauma and get back on track.
Signs parents should watch for include:
- Substance use
- High-risk sexual behavior
- Depression or anxiety
- Excessive emotional outbursts
- Defiance or rule-breaking
- Getting into legal trouble
- Skipping school or poor grades
These signs don’t always indicate that childhood trauma is an underlying concern. However, these are not normal teen behaviors, particularly if multiple behaviors happen simultaneously.
If your teenager is using substances or engaging in concerning behavior, a mental health professional can help identify the specific mental and emotional health concerns at play and provide an action plan for helping your teen learn to make healthy choices.
Teen Trauma Program at Foothills at Red Oak Recovery
A teen dealing with unresolved trauma is at high risk of developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, both now and later in life. They’re also more likely to struggle with academics, employment, relationships, and finding a sense of purpose.
Foothills at Red Oak Recovery is an addiction and mental health treatment center. We work with teen and adolescent male clients and their families. Our experienced treatment team knows how to connect with teens, helping motivate them to gain deeper self-awareness and make choices that will lead to health and happiness.
If you’re the parent of a teen with untreated trauma, call 866.300.5275 today to learn more about how your teen can begin healing at Foothills at Red Oaks Recovery.