Survivors of sexual abuse face a whole host of physical, mental, and emotional challenges. In particular, the trauma of abuse can result in depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Experiencing sexual abuse can also increase the likelihood that a person will develop an addiction. At our outpatient drug rehab in Sacramento, we council many people who are survivors of abuse.
Why Abuse Survivors Turn to Substance AbuseAccording to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual abuse survivors are 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. Why is that the case? Each person’s experience is different, of course, but some of the more common explanations include:
- Survivors may feel guilt or shame. While no one is ever responsible for being sexually abused, survivors may feel like what they’ve been through is in some way their “fault” because of something they did or failed to do. Drugs and alcohol can be a way to deaden those emotions.
- Often survivors are haunted by vivid memories of the abuse. This can be true even well after it has ceased. Substance abuse can be an attempt to keep those painful memories at bay.
- Survivors may seek a sense of control. Being sexually abused tends to leave a person feeling powerless. Drug and alcohol abuse, harmful though it is, can be a way to regain a sense of control.
- Substance use may ease social interactions. Survivors of sexual abuse may be left feeling suspicious of everyone they encounter, even well-meaning fellow students, coworkers, and relatives. Consequently, they may use substances to numb themselves in preparation for those interactions.
The “Solution” Leads to More Problems
Unfortunately, even as abuse survivors turn to drugs and alcohol for relief, they may be opening themselves up for more abuse. Conditions from impaired decision making to passing out can prevent people from defending themselves and allow predators to attack. That’s why stopping the sexual abuse and beating any addiction that is present are both necessary for a person to begin to fully heal.
Getting the assistance of a leading outpatient drug rehab in Sacramento can be life-changing for a sexual abuse survivor. By beating addiction, a person opens the door to many new possibilities, from job opportunities to trusting and supportive friendships. Contact us to learn more about our caring, compassionate staff and our treatment programs.