Childhood Sexual Trauma and Addiction, survivors abuse drugs because it helps them cope with or block out the traumatic memories.
Today on the Transform your mind podcast, we look at Karmen’s story, from the book “Call me an Addict, War on Women” by Dr Tra Ahia. First, I want to establish a connection between, Childhood sexual trauma and addiction.
Adults abused as children are reportedly 1.5 times more likely to say they used illicit drugs as compared to individuals who were not abused as children. The age of onset for non-experimental drug use with, Childhood sexual trauma and addiction, survivors is around 14.
Studies indicate that drug abuse is more common than alcohol use in adolescents who have been sexually traumatized and have found a link to, childhood sexual trauma and addiction,
Childhood Sexual Trauma and Addiction, survivors abuse drugs because it helps them:
- cope with or block out the traumatic memories.
- deal with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- improve feelings of self-worth and self-esteem.
- cope with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Karmen’s story of, Childhood Sexual Trauma and Addiction.
Karmen’s story is a little different from Kelly’s story in that her, childhood sexual abuse and trauma, did not come from her parents. In fact she said her father loved her and took her everywhere with him. But her brother started beating her up because her father loved her more than him. The beatings progressed to, sexual abuse, and then her father’s girlfriend made her eat her “Peach pie.”
Her brother jumped her into a gang and she started breaking into people’s homes, beating them up, robbing them, and selling dope.
She was raped by the gang members at age 14 and started being sexually promiscuous soon after that. She ended up with 2 kids by age 16.
With no money to feed her kids she started taking money from a drug dealer.
He bought her a car, furnished her apartment, and spoiled her and her kids, until he started beating her on the regular and abusing her sexually. Then he started pimping her out. She started getting high every day to cope. She started out using crack and then progressed to heroin.
After spending time in prison for robbery and selling drugs, she became seriously depressed.
She got tired of getting high and tried to commit suicide 4 times. Her story ends with her 5th suicide attempt.
What lessons can we learn from Karnen’s story of, Sexual Trauma and Addiction?
We learn that Karmen’s story showcases sibling rivalry and parents who were not aware and allowed her brother to abuse her sexually and physically.
You mentioned in our first episode that most addicts can’t just go into rehab and in 30 days get clean and never touch drugs again. In reality it is a daily struggle and most times they can’t even stay clean for their kids. In your 30 years as an addiction therapist what is the difference in the ones that made it?
I would say two things Desire to stay clean and and a faulty stop and go mechanism in the brain
Arifah as a mental health counselor what do you think is the reason youth with, sexual trauma, resulting medicate with drugs? Is it different from my list above?
Yes most youth use drugs to fit in and gain confidence.
Dr Tra walk us through how crack cocaine changes the brain.
Crack is a psychological drug. Your body thinks you need it; but if you don’t take it, you don’t go into the sweats. You don’t die or even feel pain.
Whereas physiological drugs like opiates, if you don’t take these drugs your body goes into withdrawal and you get pain in your body, you get diarrhea, sweats etc.
When it gets into the body, crack acts upon a midbrain structure called the ventral tegmental area (VTA), where a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine lives [source: National Institutes of Health]. Crack interferes with dopamine, which is involved in the body’s pleasure response. Dopamine is released by cells of the nervous system during pleasurable activities such as eating or having sex. Once released, dopamine travels across a gap between nerve cells, called a synapse, and binds to a receptor on a neighboring nerve cell (also called a neuron). This sends a signal to that nerve cell. (Dopamine doesn’t actually cause feelings of pleasure but it does influence how pleasure affects the brain, usually by reinforcing a pleasant feeling.) Under normal conditions, once the dopamine sends that signal, it is reabsorbed by the neuron that released it. This reabsorption happens with the help of a protein called the dopamine transporter [source: National Institutes of Health].
Crack interrupts this cycle. It attaches to the dopamine transporter, preventing the normal reabsorption process. As dopamine builds up in the synapse, it continues to stimulate the receptor, creating a lingering feeling of exhilaration or euphoria in the user.
Because crack is inhaled as a smoke, it reaches the brain much faster than inhaled powder cocaine. It can get to the brain and create a high within three to five minutes, compared to the 20 to 30 minutes it takes to feel the effects of snorted cocaine. On the downside, the crack cocaine high lasts about 30-60 minutes, while the cocaine high could last one to two hours [source: American Addiction Centers].
I have a personal experience with crack. I was engaged to a guy who was addicted to crack. I could never forget, on our second date he casually mentioned that he was a crack addict for 20 years and he was now clean.
I had never had experience with anyone addicted to drugs before, so I took his word at face value.
Needless to say, he was not over crack. I started to do my research and found that crack makes permanent changes to the brain and an addict has to deal with cravings every day. My boyfriend was no different. I had a Limousine service and he drove for me. One night someone was smoking crack in the back of the limousine and that triggered him. He disappeared for 4 days with the money from the run. I had to report the limousine stolen. He did not come back until all the money was finished. He was a binge smoker, as soon as he got paid he would disappear. He finally spent one year in the, Salvation Army rehab program. We broke up. I don’t know if he managed to stay clean.
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In the crack world a lot of women who are addicted to crack become crack whores and prostitute for drugs, Karmen was no different. It is really interesting that the men addicted to crack still abuse the women addicted to crack so this is really a war on women.
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Most children who suffer from, childhood sexual trauma and addiction, simply fail to recognize, acknowledge, and effectively process this trauma until it manifests in self-destructive ways like self-harm, substance abuse, or the inability to control their emotions.
While both males and females can be affected by, childhood sexual trauma and addiction, the prevalence rate is higher for females. It is estimated that nearly 15 million adolescent girls worldwide have experienced forced sex. According to UNICEF,
Data from the, Department of Health and Human Services, indicates that almost sixty-thousand children are sexually abused per year in the United States. This abuse lends itself to, childhood sexual trauma and addiction, The Department of Justice’s report indicates that 14 percent of all men and 36 percent of all women in prison were abused as children.
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Here are some Specific symptoms of, sexual abuse causing, sexual trauma and addiction:
(citation, the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress)
- Withdrawal and mistrust of adults
- Difficulty relating to others except in sexual or seductive ways
- Unusual interest in or avoidance of all things sexual or physical
- Sleep problems, nightmares, fears of going to bed
- Frequent accidents or self-injurious behaviors
- Refusal to go to school, or to the doctor, or home
- Secretiveness or unusual aggressiveness
- Sexual components to drawings and games
- Neurotic reactions (obsessions, compulsiveness, phobias)
- Habit disorders (biting, rocking)
- Unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
- Forcing sexual acts on other children
- Extreme fear of being touched
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Additional Resources, Childhood Sexual Trauma and Addiction
Side Effects of Crack Cocaine
The fleeting high from smoking crack can be outweighed by a host of negative effects. Though these can vary as widely as the positive effects listed above, commonly reported side effects of, childhood sexual trauma:
- Aggressive, paranoid behavior.
- Abdominal pain.
- Sudden death due to heart attack or stroke.