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How Childhood Trauma Impacts Your Adulthood

There is a difference between trauma and something being traumatic. A traumatic event is something that happens, whereas trauma is the response of that traumatic event in the mind, the body, the spirit, the soul of the human being. So trauma is a byproduct of a traumatic event.

If you grew up in a home where there was psychological, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, divorce, separation or death, you may have grown up in a dysfunctional environment. If your parent or a primary caregiver was addicted to substances, or if they were incarcerated, or suffered mental health issues, you may have experienced childhood trauma. If these issues remain unaddressed and unresolved, they impact you in a way that dysregulates your emotions. To regulate your emotions you may have turned to alcohol, drugs or addictive behaviors.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Vincent Fellitti, a world renowned expert on childhood trauma did a study on working with individuals that came through obesity clinics. He noticed that for some of them, no matter what he did, whether it was education, or medication, or a change in lifestyle, diet, or nutrition, these individuals were unable to, after a period of time, lose the weight, or maintain the weight loss. He recognized that there could be other factors and began to explore into the world of trauma to see what these individuals experienced in their life that they’re unable to adapt, or utilize these tools that are being given to them. He created a list called the Adverse Childhood Experiences of eight types of experiences.

The 8 Adverse Childhood Experiences:

  1. Did you ever experience any type of physical/sexual abuse?
  2. Did you ever experience any type of psychological abuse?
  3. Did you ever experience any type of neglect or abandonment?
  4. Did you ever watch physical abuse, like domestic violence in the home?
  5. Did one of your primary caregivers go to prison?
  6. Were they mentally ill?
  7. Were they addicted to substances?
  8. Was there divorce or separation in their life?

He tracked these experiences from the ages of zero to 18 and found, without any shadow of a doubt, that individuals who have been through adverse childhood experiences were impaired later on in various areas in life.

Impact on family unit

When an individual has been negatively impacted by family dysfunction and childhood trauma, the same problems show up in their own families when they become adults and form their own family units.

It doesn’t always have to have a negative impact: you could be rooted in love and a good family and a good upbringing and bring all that in a relationship. But if you come from dysfunction and you never worked on it there will be dysfunction inside your home. If you experience certain things as a child such as alcoholism, addiction, divorce, or separation, there will be some of the same experiences repeating again when they become adults.

Hurt people hurt people.

People who are hurt when they don’t work on their stuff hurt the next generation. The next generation, if they don’t work on their stuff, will hurt the generation that’s not even here yet. 

It takes courage to delve into the roots of our behavior patterns. The definition of courage is the ability to take action despite of fear and discomfort. It’s a courageous act to dive into the roots of our behavior patterns because there is fear in those roots. Because when the fears developed originally, it was when they were a child in a dysfunctional home experiencing childhood trauma. Addressing those fears takes the individual back to the time when they were a child in trauma.

Get Help Now

If you are suffering from addiction as well as trauma, you know that unresolved and unprocessed trauma continues to make the future look like the past. If you want to free yourself from the chains of the past, then looking at the appropriate time with the appropriate provider and the appropriate clinician to address trauma is something that is necessary for long-term success in the recovery world.

When you’re ready to start your recovery reach out to us at

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.