Sexual Assault and Addiction

Sexual Assault and AddictionAlthough many people only associate sexual assault with female victims, males are also vulnerable to this form of abuse. Sexual assault causes victims to experience physical, emotional, and psychological pain. Survivors of sexual assault may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Using drugs and alcohol to medicate for traumatic experiences often leads to addiction, which is a disease that requires treatment.

Sexual Assault and Addiction Among Males

When men who were sexually abused as children are unable to come to terms with their abuse through therapy or other means, they often grow up to suffer from anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and addiction. In the article “The Psychological Impact of Sexual Abuse,” David Lisak presents the results of his study of males who survived childhood sexual abuse. Lisak found that among male survivors 80 percent had a history of substance abuse, 50 percent had suicidal thoughts, and 23 percent had attempted suicide.

Sexual Assault and Addiction Among Females

One in three American women are sexually abused within their lifetime. When abused women do not receive appropriate treatment for the traumas they have suffered, they may develop issues such as relationship problems and low self-esteem. These issues can eventually lead to substance abuse. According to an article titled “The Link Between Substance Abuse and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Women,” which was published in the American Journal on Addictions, 75 percent of women in addiction treatment programs report that they have been sexually abused.

Sexual Assault and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear are normal after a traumatic event. When these feelings are severe and last for several weeks or more, the condition is classified as PTSD. Victims of sexual abuse and assault commonly suffer from PTSD. Symptoms of this disorder include the following:

  • Re-experiencing: Reliving the event over and over through flashbacks, thoughts, dreams, and reactions to reminders of the event
  • Avoidance: Avoiding people, places, and objects that serve as reminders of the abuse, which can cause feelings of numbness, guilt, and depression
  • Hyper-arousal: Experiencing physiological symptoms including difficulty falling asleep, trouble concentrating, feelings of tension, and feelings of anger that result in outbursts

When left untreated, PTSD symptoms may worsen and last for many years. Survivors of sexual assault who have developed addiction problems while suffering from PTSD can benefit from addiction treatment, which addresses both the physical and psychological nature of addiction.

What Happens in Addiction Treatment?

Professional addiction treatment can help patients physically recover from drug addiction while they work through the pain that is associated with a history of sexual abuse. Addressing the pain of abuse offers patients a better quality of life and helps them remain sober long term. In treatment, patients are treated physically through medically supervised detoxification. They also attend various types of counseling sessions. Counseling helps rehab patients identify and work through their trauma.

Need Help Finding Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction?

If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, we can help. Please call our toll-free number today to reach a rehab admissions coordinator who can connect you to a high quality treatment center. We are available 24 hours a day to take your call and help you stand up to addiction. You don’t have to let addiction control your life. Call us today.

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