Sexual Abuse and Addiction

Sexual abuse is arguably one of the most emotionally scarring traumas that a person can suffer. The effects of sexual abuse can present themselves for years after the actual event.

It has been shown that sexual abuse can both lead to and stem from addiction to and abuse of drugs and alcohol. Studies have shown that as many as two-thirds of women in addiction treatment programs have suffered from sexual abuse at some point in their lives.

The sexual abuse may have been something that occurred at a young age or it may be something more recent, and may be anything from molestation to rape. Any occurrence of sexual abuse is traumatic and those who have been sexually abused should seek treatment and help for the effects.

Sexual Abuse as a Cause of Addiction

Sexual abuse whether recent or in the distant past, often attributes to a woman’s chances of abusing drugs and alcohol. A study done at the Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, found that women who have been sexually abused, are three times more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol than their counterparts who have not suffered sexual abuse.

The mental anguish of a trauma such as sexual abuse can be incredibly difficult to deal with. Many women who have suffered from sexual abuse don’t know where or how to get help, or may feel embarrassed or shamed by the event and be afraid to seek help. In many cases, this leads the woman to self-medicate the effects of the sexual abuse with drugs and alcohol.

In some cases, the trauma may cause severe enough symptoms to be diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is particularly prevalent in women. In addition, women are found to be less likely than men to seek help, leading to higher numbers of self medication with drugs and alcohol.

Addiction Can Lead To Sexual Abuse

The use of drugs and alcohol leads to lowered inhibitions. A person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is more likely to be the victim of sexual abuse, as they are more vulnerable and around others who are likely also under the influence. Women under the influence are also more likely to find themselves in situations where common date-rape drugs may be used.

For women who have experienced sexual abuse, it is important to get help to deal with the issues. When addiction has presented itself, it is important that both the emotional trauma and addiction be dealt with at the same time in order to achieve long-term recovery.

Destination Hope: The Women’s Program has experience treating women that have suffered from sexual abuse. We offer dual diagnosis treatment because we understand that the emotional anguish of traumas such as sexual abuse and the perils of addiction lie hand in hand and must both be treated for the best success. With the proper counseling and treatment, a woman can recover from the trauma of sexual abuse and obtain sobriety.

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