“Many people do not realize the toll stress can have on their lives. Caring for mind and body leads to a healthier, happier and more productive life.” Cynthia Wainscott

Celebrating 18 years of Mind & Body Therapies.

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Trauma »
Substance Use

Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) frequently predispose a person to substance use.  While exposure to trauma doesn’t necessarily lead to addiction, research clearly suggests that trauma is a major underlying source of addiction behavior.  

How Trauma predisposes the Brain to Addiction

  • The amygdala (detects threat) can become overactive, causing hypervigilance. Patients may feel intensely anxious, vulnerable and fearful.
  • The hippocampus (processes memory) can become underactive. Rather than consolidating and then placing memories in long-term storage, memories get hung up in a present-day loop. The result: Patients experience and re-experience intrusive, disturbing and uncomfortable recollections.
  • The cortex (executive control) becomes interrupted by survival-oriented instincts from deep inside the inner brain. These instincts overrule logical thinking, diminish cognitive processing and decrease the ability to inhibit behavior. Even when trying to refrain from addictive behaviors, cravings and an unstoppable urge will sabotage often best intentions.

Addictions, substances and compulsive behaviors often help reduce sensations of overwhelm that post-trauma changes create. Addictions and compulsions tend to take the place of self-soothing, provide much needed relaxation for a time, and seemingly protect from unwanted feelings and emotions.

It’s a high price to pay.

Health Psychology Sacramento provides trauma treatment, and fosters healing through genuine relationship in the context of compassionate understanding, connecting to an affirmative self-script, attending to relationships, nutrition, calming the brain, and healing body and mind.