The Link Between Sexual Abuse and Addiction


Sexual abuse can affect people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds; statistics indicate that one in three women and one in four men experience sexual abuse. It is a traumatic experience that can cause long-term effects, and one strong indicator of this is the link between sexual abuse and drug addiction.

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Sexual Abuse Can Happen to Anyone 

The definition of sexual abuse is any sexual activity that happens without consent—commonly referring to sexual assault or sexual violence. However, it can also include unwanted sexual touching, forced oral sex, and rape. Sexual abuse can affect people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds. In addition, statistics indicate that one in three women and one in four men experience sexual abuse. It is a traumatic experience that can cause long-term effects. Moreover, a strong indicator of this is the link between sexual abuse and drug addiction. 

If you or someone you love is in need of addiction treatment, reach out to our professionals now at 912-214-3867. Our specialists are here to help you, or someone you care about, fight through their addiction. We offer many services and treatments. Let’s find the right option for you together. Do not wait; call today.    

Is Addiction Linked to Sexual Abuse?

Research shows that those who experience sexual abuse are more likely to have substance abuse issues. For example, high-risk sex or other risky behaviors are common. These behaviors apply to both men and women. Most people are aware that they have a higher chance of sexual abuse while abusing drugs. However, many don’t realize that sexual abuse can cause substance abuse. Sometimes those who have drug or alcohol addiction do not even realize that the sexual abuse they experienced as a child, or teen, maybe the root of the problem. 

The long-term effects of sexual abuse can be particularly harmful. Studies show that victims of sexual abuse are more likely to have a substance use disorder. Consequently, they are less likely to complete substance abuse treatment.     

Those who experience sexual trauma find it hard to keep reliving the event in their mind. In addition, when trauma occurs during childhood, the child does not receive the treatment they need to deal with trauma. Long-term childhood sexual abuse effects can include:  

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Revictimization
  • Substance abuse
  • Low self-esteem
  • Interpersonal relationship problems.

As a result, trauma increases the probability of someone developing a dependence on a substance. Additionally, substance abuse can increase the individual’s likelihood of being traumatized again due to the high probability of sexual assaults around drug abuse. 

Sexual Abuse of Men 

Women are more likely to experience sexual abuse in their lifetime; on the other hand, this does not mean that men are not affected. As we noted earlier, one in four men are victims of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can happen to anyone. Male victims face extra hurdles due to how society views men and masculinity. Some men could view themselves as not being strong enough if they could not fight off the abuser. It can also make an individual feel that he is “less of a man” because of the abuse. In conclusion, if you are the victim of sexual abuse, it is not your fault, and you are not alone. Call us today, and our experts will assist you in getting the help and treatment that you need.

If you, or a man that you care about, are struggling with this, call us as soon as possible. We have the tools to help males and females who are suffering. With our non-judgment policy, never feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk to one of our professionals. Let us help you start your new life today.

Did Sexual Abuse Cause My Addiction? 

There is an undeniable relationship between sexual abuse and drug addiction—about half of all men and two-thirds of all women in treatment report past trauma.  

Research conducted at the Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University shows that women who suffer sexual abuse as children have an increased risk for drug abuse as an adult. After interviewing 1,411 adult twins to determine the relationship between the three levels of childhood sexual abuse and six adult disorders. The three levels of childhood sexual abuse are non-genital, genital, and intercourse. For instance, the six adult disorders are:

  • Major depression
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Drug addiction

Above all, this study showed that women who experience any of the three types of sexual abuse during childhood are approximately three times more likely to have drug dependence. Compared to girls who do not experience abuse. In addition, the study also found that drug and alcohol dependence was the most related to childhood sexual abuse out of all the psychiatric disorders. Not only that, but drug and alcohol dependence were the only disorders associated with all three levels of childhood sexual abuse.   

Effects of Severe Cases of Sexual Abuse

Another study shows that the correlation between sexual abuse and drug addiction was more substantial than between abuse and alcoholism. Furthermore, in the most severe cases of sexual abuse, those affected abused harder drugs. For example, sexually abused individuals also show more symptoms of:

  • Suicidal behavior
  • Social isolation
  • Aggressive behavior
  • A reduced dynamic binding to others
  • Frequent victimization
  • Prostitution
  • Violence

These symptoms are not only related to addiction but are linked to other diseases such as eating disorders and Borderline Personality Disorder.    

In addition, researchers have found that 48% of sexual violence survivors meet the DSM-IV criteria for diagnosing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These individuals often experience an increased intensity of symptoms than those who have PTSD from other types of trauma. Meanwhile, both adults and children are five times more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and four times more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Are you suffering from PTSD or other kinds of trauma? Call us today. We will be able to find the right type of treatment for you and your situation. We want to work with you to help you regain control over your life. 

Do Not Blame Yourself  

Individuals struggling with emotions such as fear, anxiety, and shame that accompany sexual abuse often look for a source of comfort. Many blame themselves for what has happened to them. Victims frequently do not have anyone they can talk to about the abuse. Consequently, they attempt to resolve the issue on their own. For instance, these habits, often referred to as self-medicating, may include:

  •  Drinking alcohol
  •  Risky sexual behavior
  •  Gambling
  •  Compulsive shopping
  •  Drug abuse 

The individual may do these habits without even realizing it. They find relief in their actions. But, this relief is short-lived and is not a solution. However, it certainly explains the link between sexual abuse and drug addiction. Individuals who find themselves using drugs or alcohol in this manner have a very high probability of becoming dependent on their substance of choice.   

Recovering from sexual trauma takes time. In addition, substance abuse is brutal to overcome. Drugs, alcohol, and other substances cannot erase the memories of sexual abuse. That is to say, medications do not cover up the past, but dark times do not last. Above all, those who have survived sexual abuse can learn how to cope with their history healthily.

There are proven and effective treatment options for those reliant on drugs or alcohol to cope with their past sexual abuse. Continuing to use substances to cope with sexual abuse does not make anything better in the long run; it does quite the opposite. Managing past abuse with drugs or alcohol has long term consequences that they will have to deal with later on. For example, some of these include:  

  • Risk of death by overdose  
  • Leaving yourself vulnerable to more traumatic experiences; including more sexual assault  
  • Damaging your organs, such as the liver 
  • Increasing the potential of suicide or self-harm   

Do I Have an Addiction? 

Individuals of all backgrounds can become addicted to substances. Addiction can happen at any age but typically begins when someone is young. A habit is when the urge to take drugs is too strong to control. Also, when they cannot stop taking drugs even when they want to. For example, if an individual taking drugs is being harmed but continues to use drugs, they are highly likely to encounter addiction. Fortunately, treating and managing an addiction can be done successfully. Do you think you have an addiction? Call our experts today to discuss your options. Find out when or if you need treatment. But also find out what you can do to make your life safer, happier, and healthier.

Can I Stop My Addiction On My Own? 

Long-term drug use changes how the brain works. It strongly affects the area of the brain that manages self-control. However, sometimes an individual does not realize that their past abuse is one of the reasons for their dependency. Thus, when these individuals try to stop using drugs or alcohol, the trauma resurfaces—making it incredibly hard to address this kind of substance abuse without help.
Addiction treatments will focus on past issues and give patients the tools they need to cope with their past healthily. Moreover, these treatments make it possible for victims of sexual abuse to complete their treatment program and return to the community with a lesser chance of relapse.

Finding the Right Help  

Finally, one of the first steps to getting help is reaching out to your primary care doctor or one of our addiction treatment specialists. A primary care doctor may be able to discuss drug treatment with you. It is essential to be honest with your care providers, as they need to understand how to create a treatment plan best for you.   

There are a lot of options for treatment. The choice of treatment options depends highly on the patient and affects how successful treatment will be in the long run. One of our specialists on addiction will be able to assist you in choosing the best option.  

In short, call us today if you would like to talk to a specialist. Our team of experts is standing by, ready to help turn your life around. Call today, and we can work towards a better tomorrow. 

What Should I Do If I Think Someone is Being Abused? 

Finally, as we have seen, there is a strong link between sexual abuse and drug addiction. Often the substance abuse is the result of past sexual trauma. However, if current sexual abuse is suspected, it is essential to encourage the victim to get help. It can be uncomfortable and awkward to discuss abuse, but it is necessary to urge them to help. Victims can also reach out to our medical providers or their local law enforcement. If a child is involved in the abuse, assistance from Child Protective Services may be given.

Meanwhile, if you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or other drugs, we can help. Reach out to our professionals today. Let our team help you start on your new road to sobriety.

Written by Kailee Oliver 

the link between sexual abuse and addiction


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