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Do You Have Childhood Trauma? PART 1: 8 Questions to Ask Yourself

Most people who end up in sober recovery communities and addiction programs come from some type of dysfunction in the home, where they may have had childhood adverse experiences, because addiction is one of the outcomes of family dysfunction and childhood trauma. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it always leads there but there is a high possibility for it. 

The questions below are designed to help you gain insight and understanding into the potential impact your family dysfunction may have had on your loved one or on yourself, and how it continues to have consequences in your life, if it has not been treated or resolved by addressing the underlying causes and the roots of the trauma.

1. Do you constantly seek approval?

When you are a product of a dysfunctional home and experience childhood trauma, it is very common that that individual is constantly seeking approval or affirmation later on in life. This is the person that is in a relationship and is constantly asking the other person, “Do you love me, do you love me, do you love me, do you love me?” It’s because at some point in their life maybe nobody told them they loved them and they never experienced love. Later on in life when they are an adult in a relationship they continue to have that same adult-child mentality. This is an example of unresolved issues of family dysfunction and childhood trauma that appear later on in life. 

2. Do you fail to recognize your own accomplishments?

Failure to recognize accomplishments is something we see often in Buckeye Recovery programs. When someone accomplishes something, whether it is a degree or getting sober, they put themselves down because they fail to recognize and acknowledge their own accomplishments. This is typically because growing up in a dysfunctional family, maybe when they achieved something and accomplished something, nobody was there to support them, love them, or pat them on the back. All accomplishments need to be celebrated because small accomplishments accumulated on top of each other become big accomplishments. One can’t have a big accomplishment without minor daily accomplishments.

3. Do you fear criticism?

If you are a byproduct of a dysfunctional home, or you have childhood trauma, you are probably terrified of criticism because one of the characteristics of a dysfunctional home is having highly critical parents, or a highly critical environment where no matter what you do is not good enough. This in turn prompts the individual to go on a lifelong pursuit of perfection, where if someone criticizes them, they are terrified of it. They see it as a personal attack to their character, rather than their actions.

4. Do you overextend yourself?

Overextending yourself is usually the result of trying to make up for lost time by taking on everyone else’s stuff and then end up feeling overwhelmed and giving up. This is a cycle they often repeat because they are trying to compensate for a lack of something at some point in their life. 

5. Do you have a need for perfection?

A need is usually a basic necessity such as water, shelter, food, safety, and love. However some people have a need for perfection because of family dysfunction and childhood trauma. When a child’s home life is in disarray the only way they know to survive it is to show up perfectly. They think who they are and how they are is not enough and that they need to be more perfect somehow. Unfortunately, when they become adults this leads to a significant fear of failure, a significant fear of success, crippled mental paralysis, and self-sabotaging behavior. This could also translate into a need for perfection from everyone else around them as well. Being disappointed in the people around them could create loneliness.

6. Are you uneasy when life is going smoothly?

Children raised in a dysfunctional home where there were chaos, problems and challenges to overcome constantly feel uncomfortable when they experience calmness. Their brain is wired to expect something chaotic to happen. 

Many people who are in the beginning stages of their recovery process feel uncomfortable when their life starts to get calmer because the consequences of their using substances are no longer happening, they start to get uneasy. Through years of living in a chaotic experience, dysfunctional home, and childhood trauma, they are addicted to chaos, and their brain has been wired to deal with chaos. So that when things get calm they intentionally or unintentionally destroy it all to create chaos again. This happens with a lot of chronic relapses.

7. Do you feel responsible for others?

When a child was raised in a family where they had to become the primary caregiver for their younger sibling, they take on adultlike responsibilities. When the same child becomes an adult and is in a relationship, they start to attract people who they can take care of and become responsible for, so that they can show up in a caregiving role. This develops codependency, and getting into jobs and careers and fields that they become caregivers in, such as nursing. 

8. Do you isolate yourself from other people?

One of the most common behaviors we notice in our clients is isolation. Isolation leads to relapse because they are stuck with their own thoughts. Even though some people tend to be more introverted than others, and uncomfortable in groups of people, isolation is a different phenomenon which can lead to depression. Human beings are communal beings who are wired to gather together to work in groups and live in communities. We are meant to be together and connected. So when someone is isolating that goes opposite of our true essence. Children who grow up in a home with family dysfunction and experience childhood trauma where it is not conducive for connection and togetherness isolate themselves to cope with dysfunction, for self-preservation and safety. When these children grow up into adults they isolate because they find safety in isolation. However isolation negatively impacts mental health and often causes depression.


Read part 2 where we discuss 9 through 16 of the questions to ask yourself if you had experienced Childhood Trauma.

Get Help

If you would really like to address the roots of these issues, it is highly recommended to seek a therapist or a counselor to help address the unresolved experiences. Every human being is an independent entity from their loved ones. It is not enough to help your loved ones receive treatment and therapy for their issues. It is important that you address your own issues as well. Your loved ones becoming sober will help their peace of mind, however you will not experience the same peace of mind until you address and resolve your traumatic experiences. Reach out to Buckeye Recovery Network for help.

Today is going to be the best day of your life.

Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.