Addiction rooted in trauma

Opioid Crisis

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Addiction is the desire to feel better and trauma can be the root cause of it, especially childhood trauma.

We have a unique inside look at the life of a woman struggling with substance use disorder.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 20 million Americans ages 12 and up battle substance use disorder.

One out of every eight adults struggled with both alcohol and drug use disorders simultaneously.

But the actual lives being destroyed by addiction tell the story much better than statistics ever will.

The majority of addictions are believed to be rooted in trauma.

“Growing up my parents had no problems with me. I never had detention. I never got in trouble. I never snuck out. I never did anything wrong. I think I drank one time during high school; when I was 16,” Jessica Pfau said.

That was also the age Pfau began to struggle with her weight. She now realizes she was addicted to food. In 2011, she underwent gastric bypass surgery. That’s when her problems with painkillers began.

“Traded my food for pain pills after that,” Pfau said.

Angela Kennecke:  Did you know you were addicted?
Pfau: I knew I had a problem and I took too many, but I always thought I could stop.

Failed treatment after failed treatment led her to a realization of what had caused her to want to numb the pain: trauma from her childhood. She didn’t want to go into specific details, but she did tell us this.

“I didn’t deal with it. I didn’t open up about it. I wasn’t honest about things that were going on around me,” Pfau said.

Sometimes when it does happen in childhood, it does have an effect on how they manage stress a little later in their life. They don’t develop the skills to better manage those life stressors.

Malia Holbeck, Manager of Avera Addiction Recovery Programs

Pfau’s way of coping was to turn from food to pills to booze and eventually harder drugs.

“Addiction can be kind of a slippery slope. Often times you maybe have a beer or glass of wine to be able to numb out; to cope with that situation and then over time, one turns into two, two turns into three and that one night a week turns into two or three and over time that continues to progress where that person develops a dependence or addiction to that substance,” Holbeck said.

“You don’t feel anything. You don’t feel happy, but you don’t feel the sadness,” Pfau said.

While Pfau used food to deal with her trauma initially, gastric bypass surgery changed that.

Wednesday night on KELOLAND News at 10, we begin Jessica’s Journey with the tie in between gastric bypass and addiction. Plus, we hear about her years of struggle and trying to break free of the cycle to no avail.

Visit our Opioid Crisis Special Coverage page for resources and information on addiction.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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