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A trauma response is how a person reacts to things that remind them of a past trauma. Certain people, places, or things can cause emotional triggers and distress, leading to problems with their mental health, relationships, and ability to function day-to-day. Unfortunately, these trauma responses can also affect one’s parenting style, but it can be challenging for parents to recognize just how influential trauma may be on them. 

Understanding your trauma responses may help you become more self-aware and conscious of how it’s influencing your parenting. That also means you may be able to improve your parenting style and even heal some of the strained relationships with children. In many cases, unmanaged trauma may lead to the development of substance use disorder (SUD). For help seeking treatment, contact West Coast Recovery Centers today. 

What Are Trauma Responses?

As mentioned, a trauma response is how we naturally react or respond to trauma. That includes how our mind and body cope with distress. People’s trauma responses vary depending on a number of factors, such as the severity of the trauma.

Two of the most common responses to trauma include anxiety and numbness. Individuals experiencing anxiety are usually hypervigilant because they’re afraid something else traumatic will occur. On the flip side, those experiencing numbness are typically in shock and, in severe cases, completely dissociate from their feelings and environment. 

It’s necessary to remember that a trauma response doesn’t solely illicit an emotional response. A trauma response encapsulates behavioral and physical reactions, as well. Some responses people experience may include the following: 

  • Intrusive thoughts 
  • Reduced concentration 
  • Disorientation 
  • Intense fatigue 
  • Disturbed sleep 
  • Self-isolation 
  • Increased stress 
  • Avoidance issues 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Constantly reliving the traumatic event 

If unmanaged, these responses can impair one’s ability to function day-to-day. However, there’s another dangerous response to trauma that people must be mindful of – substance use. 

Trauma Responses and SUD

It’s not uncommon for people who’ve undergone trauma to turn to substance use as a way to cope. Some people drink, some smoke cigarettes, and others turn to drugs. In any case, self-medication is extremely dangerous and, more often than not, leads to dependency. 

To heal from both, individuals must understand how the two are connected. That sometimes requires them to look deeper at the vicious cycle of trauma and addiction. 

Understanding the Cycle of Trauma and Addiction

Believe it or not, many professionals believe trauma to be the root cause of most addictions. Traumatic experiences impact people deeply, and without proper coping mechanisms, it’s no surprise people turn to substance use. 

The cycle of trauma and addiction occurs when someone can’t free themselves from afflictions. Despite trying to manage their trauma symptoms with drugs and alcohol, the substance use only makes these symptoms worse. In turn, the trauma remains, the symptoms intensify, and it becomes increasingly difficult for the person to function day-to-day. 

The only way to break the cycle is to get better. That includes seeking treatment, attending therapy, and making positive life changes. However, taking that first step can be difficult, but it’s critical for yourself, your loved ones, and your children. 

How Are Your Trauma Responses Influencing Your Parenting?

Remember, trauma responses are natural. No one should feel ashamed of their natural reactions to trauma, but we should be mindful of how those responses influence our lives. That includes observing these influences on our relationships with children.

Individuals can’t always see how their traumas and addiction are influencing their children or their parenting styles. Let’s consider the two most common responses to trauma – numbness and anxiety. 

A parent who dissociates often becomes completely numb to their surroundings because of untreated trauma. The dissociation can cause them to become emotionally unavailable, making children feel like their parents don’t care about them. In its most severe case, dissociation may even lead to neglect. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, over-anxious and hypervigilant individuals can become overbearing and controlling. An overbearing parent can quickly strain their relationship with their child. As they get older, they may become rebellious as a result of feeling suffocated, and even as kids mature, lingering feelings can impact the relationship even into early adulthood.  

Seek Healing for Trauma

The best way to prevent past traumas from influencing your parenting style and relationship with your kids is to seek help. For those struggling with trauma and SUD, dual diagnosis treatment and trauma-informed care may be the way to go. However, parents who are managing their trauma but simply need a little assistance may consider seeking a therapist, finding a support group, or confiding in the support of a spouse, parent, or other trusted confidant. 

We all naturally respond to trauma in a myriad of ways, but that doesn’t mean we should let the trauma control us. Seek help for your untreated trauma, and if you or someone you love is also struggling with addiction, call West Coast Recovery Centers today. 

Everyone experiences trauma in their lives, but not everyone’s trauma responses are the same. A number of factors can influence our trauma responses, and while many of us are able to manage those symptoms, others sometimes need a little more help. If left unmanaged, these trauma responses can lead to other mental health conditions, substance use, and the development of substance use disorder (SUD). These trauma responses can also influence one’s parenting style and your relationship with your children. Thankfully, there are ways to recognize and address your trauma in a way that can improve your parenting and your relationships with your children. To learn more or seek help, call West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509 today.