This is the first in a series about childhood trauma and alcohol.
I’ve been re-reading Ann Dowsett Johnston’s book Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol.
I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, but the correlation between childhood trauma and adult alcoholism is staggering. Here’s what Ann says:
“The strongest single predictor for both alcoholism and depression is having been sexually abused or traumatized in childhood. …Sexual trauma is the strongest predictor.” (page 81)
The women Johnston interviewed had this to say:
“I drink to numb, I drink to forget, I drink not to feel, I drink not to be me.” (page 107)
Anyone who has ever felt the soft hum of alcohol going down her throat, blurring pain and depression, knows that alcohol works. You feel more relaxed as the alcohol triggers the reward spot in your brain. All’s well with the world, you’re wittier and wiser than you were before the drink. It’s quick and effective. It’s your best friend. … Until you want it to let go … And it won’t.
The trouble with wine, spirits and beer is this: by the time you realize you’re dependent on them, that your sleep is shallow and your body is suffering, it demands that you drink more and more before it will bless you with its nice warm feelings.
There’s another association with alcohol abuse and childhood trauma. In my personal experience and in all the people I’ve met who suffered abuse at the hands of an adult they trusted, that perpetrator was almost always fueled by alcohol.
In the next post in this series, I’ll look at how traumatized children tend to start drinking early and I’ll introduce another author you may find useful.