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April 17, 2013

Sexual Trauma can lead to Substance Abuse in Adolescents

Sexuality is one of the basics of human being. Every human has instincts, and the basic instinct is sexual. Sexual health is one of the most important and meaningful areas of human life. Sex is the base of relationship. A human life begins from sex. Healthy sexual life contributes to good health, good relationship, to personality development and to a wealthy life in society. Sexual health refers to different aspects and factors that influence sexuality and health in general. There are physical, emotional and mental factors. That means that sexuality has as positive as negative influence on the human personality. Normal sexual development leads to a healthy many-sided development of a human both in physical and psychological aspects. Normal sexual life leads to normal psychics of a person. And to the opposite. Physical disorders often leads to different emotional disorders, and to the opposite, emotional disoders lead to physical disorders. Psychiatry and psychosomatic proves this theory. The human body is the complex system, where everything, every system works and function together. Everything that impacts us one way or another impacts our health, our body and mind. Sexual sphere is one of the main functional systems of the human organism and it influences every other system of the human body.

The development of a sexual system starts from childhood. The following scheme describes it: birth-love-touch-empathy-trust-ability to relax, be soothed-body image-gender identify-self-esteem-power handled well-sense of owning self-permission to explore self/sexuality-change to develop social skills-masturbation/fantasy-loving/sexual relationship with other. What if there could be some trauma included in this scheme. Then sexual scheme can be changed and can lead to a completely another way of development. It is extremely valuable to reach the top point of the scheme – loving, sexual relationship with the other person, through it is not always gained. The reasons can be different – from wrong education, the absence or lack of parental love to different traumas in a child or later years.

A lot of children in our society are exposed to traumatic life events. In general, all children experience some stressful events and each event influence the character and health of a child. Traumatic event threatens injury, death, or the physical integrity and as usual causes stress to an organism. It can be a reason for feeling horror, helplessness at the time it occurs. There are lots of traumatic events like sexual or physical abuse, domestic or community violence, medical trauma, different car accidents, acts of terrorism, natural and human-made disasters, suicides, and other traumatic losses. Referring to statistics we can point that more than two thirds of children are influenced some traumatic events by the age of 16 years.

There are terrible cases when sexual traumas happen inside a family. There is a number of incests. It hurts children’s acceptance of the world, changes psychic and leads to different morbdities, abstance abuse and other co-morbidies, like hard psychological traumas, moral corrupion. The offender can be one of the parents, the offender can be known to a child (adolescent). It fundmentally breaks the trust of a person to anyone of the surrounding people, to society and world in general and leads to different psychic and physical disoders. In most cases, a help of a specialist would be useful. Human mind and body feel stressed.Stress can cause different changes in all physical and psychological systems of the human. Humans know this as “posttraumatic stress disorder.” (Horowitz, 1979).

Depending on the genetic diathesis of the organism and parental education the reaction on different traumatic cases can be different, it can cause a small stress or can cause some hard diseases. These reactions may be influenced by children’s developmental level, cultural factors, previous traumas, past and present family problems. However, every traumatic event causes a change in behavior and general condition of a child or adolescent. Not every response on trauma is problematic. Many cases can be turn to an experience of the person with a help of close people (friends, parents) and especially the specialists.

Human behavior is often driven by individual rational deliberation as well as by shortcuts and social preferences. Emotions are one of the most important parts of these behavioral. Behavior is influenced by emotions and driven by them. Emotions influence behavior in ways that are relevant to performance in processes. Individuals who were affected by some traumatic events are stressed, and their emotions are depressed or too impulsive to the opposite. They can feel anger for the offender, or sadness, despair and incorrigibility of situation. Certainly these emotions are reflected in the individual’s behavior one way or another because human emotions play one of the leading roles in the human reactions.
The most spread reactions of children and adolescents who have been influenced by traumatic events are similar. They include the development of new fears, sleep disturbance, indifference and loss of interest in normal activities, sadness, reduced concentration, nightmares, separation anxiety (particularly in young children), irritability, somatic complaints, reduced concentration, decline in schoolwork etc. The defense mechanism of the human organism on traumatic cases can be different. In some areas of psychology psychologists often mention defense mechanisms, which can be described as the ways in which we behave to better protect or “defend” ourselves. With a help of defense mechanisms, people distance themselves from a full awareness of unpleasant thoughts, feelings and behaviors. There are primitive defense mechanisms such as denial, regression, acting out, dissociation, compartmentalization, projection, reaction formation, and more mature defense mechanisms like repression, displacement, rationalization, undoing, and mature defense mechanisms like sublimation, compensation, assertiveness. Talking about defense mechanisms arising from sexual traumas, we can’t be sure in the right or wrong reactions of the organism of a child or adolescent because psychic is on the developing level.

Parents and family play a significant role in sexual development of children. They put the huge contribution (positive or negative) to their children’s sexual health. In most of the cases, children copy parental model of behavior. Parents should realize it and pay much attention to their parenting skills. Adolescence can be difficult for parents. If parents will put all their love and attention to children in these years, they can grow up a healthy and successful personality. One of the most parenting skills involves positive attention. Teenagers learn how to behave by watching their parents. Parents can teach their children in one way but behave themselves in a totally other way. Actions speak much louder than words. Parents should show a positive example and their children would likely follow them. It concerns all aspects of personality development, all spheres of life, including relationship and sex. Parents should spend time with their children to remind them their care. There is the attachment theory which was formulated by John Bowlby, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and author of the book “Attachment”. (Bowlby, 1999) This theory is based on a baby’s needs for safety, security and protection. All these provide mental health. The attachment theory emphasizes the importance of bonding with your child when you spend time with him and are sensitive and responsive in a social way. Talking, listening and teaching your kids help them to develop good problem-solving skills. The development of sexuality also depends on parenting and education. If parents give much care and attention to their children, if they have a close contact with them, they provide a good start of children’s perception of love, interpersonal and physiological relationship, sexual development.

Sometimes parents blame youth in their sexual and mental degradation. They stand on the low moral principles of the new generation. Though they should realize that everything that happen to the present generation is completely caused by education, by parenting skills and the contribution made to children’s education.

If we talk about education and parentig skills, certainly parents have a great influence on their children. They play previling role in the child raising. In most of the cases parents decide what is right and what is wrong for their children according to their own experience, to their own mistakes. There are different ways of parenting education. Parents are usually they know their children’s needs. The formation of personality starts from the early years, it sarts even in the mother’s wave.
Parents often blame youth in moral degradation, sex depravity, subtance abuse. They try to control youth and to install their own life programs, not realizing that the changing of new generation is normal according to changes in the world.
The society changes gradually and these changes are required by the previous generations. Every new generation is the consequence of the previous one. That’s why it is not rational to blame the new generation in something, because youth is the outcome of parents.

Parents often think that children need their help, they ask for a help. Sometimes after hard emotional times, sexual truamas, adolescence turn to substance abuse. It may be treated as a scream for help to the parents, that children need parental attention.

The society plays one of the leading roles in the forming of children’s minds. When a child borns the first society which he see and know is his parents. Later and on a child gets into the new environment: kindergarten, then school, college, university, first jobs. Media (TV, radio, internet) also influences greatly as well. Every person is like a product of society.

Certainly there are genetic factors that influence substance abuse. There is a great risk of alcohol-dependence in the families of alcohol-dependent parents. According to the genetic studies of alcohol-dependent adolescence and their relatives, the risk for this disorder explained by genes is between 40 and 60% (Prescott and Kendler, 1999, Schuckit, 2001). This proves that there is biological factor that can influence substance abuse of adolscence. The genetic liability to emotional disodres, such as schizoprenia, bipolar disoders, depressive conditions can lead to uncontrolled substance use (Schuckit, 2002).

Talking about sexual traumas we can distinguish different complexities of traumas. The complexity of trauma depends on its reasons and the persistence of psychic. There is childhood sexual abuse and adulthood sexual violence. These terms are based on definitions developed by the American Medical Association and the U.S.

Sexual abuse of children may be a contact and “noncontact”. This simulates “inappropriate sexual behavior” (Inappropriate sexual behavior, AMA, 1992). It can be, for example, forced involvement in child pornography or involving to exhibitionism. Adulthood sexual violence includes contact and non-contact acts performed without the survivor’s consent since age 18 (AMA,1992).<…>

It is dangerous that it is common and possible to use alcohol safely. The public perception of alcohol gives to alcohol abusers justification to continue with their dangerous behavior. They may believe that so long as they do not touch illegal drugs they will be fine. They use alcohol as a recreational drug from their psychological problems, not realizing that they just run from one problems to another ones. They do not solve their problems in an appropriate way, they try to forget and run from them, gaining a lot of other problems, like psychological and physical substance dependence.

There are the same reasons why people who survived through the sexual traumas, start taking drugs. The drugs give the temporary relief for a person as well as an alcohol. They help to relax, provide a temporary escape from reality, give courage to interact, create intense feeling of pleasure. Drugs help people feel more confident and self-assured. Alcohol as well as drugs help to run from reality, to run from problems and depression. Drugs are addictive, so if people take them for a period of time they may develop a physical and psychological dependence. Some substances are not even meant for human consumption, yet their ability to alter consciousness has made them into attractive sources of intoxication for those who looking for drug effects.

The damaging effect of drugs have wide-ranging repercussions throughout the body. There different cardiovascular dysfunctions, brain damages, liver diseases etc. Drugs can increase heart rate and cause heart attacks. Drugs have demonstrated the ability to cause brain damage in users. They can damage areas of the brain that control cognition, movement, vision and hearing. These substances may provoke varying degrees of destruction to the brain tissue, resulting in cognitive abnormalities ranging from mild impairment to severe, permanent dementia. Chronic alcohol abuse can cause a syndrome known as “wet brain,” or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. The liver is faced with the task of removing the drugs from the body. As a result of chronic drug use, the liver can become damaged and diseased.

Drugs that are injected intravenously can damage the blood vessels, causing veins to collapse. Dirty needles and contaminated drugs can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream that damage the heart valves. Using dirty injectors is one the most spread factors of hepatitis C and AIDS infection. As we can see drug abuse can lead a person to different dangerous morbidities which can lead to a death.

As we see people who have experienced trauma are more at risk for using substances. If the person is sexually abused he might develop a substance abuse problem. Usually, the person turns to drugs and alcohol to numb his feelings just like someone does with depression or anxiety. This use increases and magnifies over time leading to substance abuse and dependence.

Sexuality and sexual development influence much on our personality, on our emotional and psychological condition. Sexual development is typically associated with the teen years, through in reality, young kids develop an emotional and physical foundation for sexuality in many subtle ways from infancy. Children have physical and emotional changes, which cause lots of questions. Parents first of all should become the source of answers to these questions. They should communicate with their children and try to explain them the main questions of sexual development.

Some classes in school, devoted to sexual development may be useful. A specialist should always communicate to students on various topics concerned sexuality development. There always should be different anonymous rehabilitation centers for kids and adolescents, who have gone through sexual trauma.

Sexual trauma is one of the main risk factors for becoming substance addicted. Sexual trauma can lead a substance abuse in adolescence. Sexuality is one the main functional systems, every human leads sexual life. Certainly there are individuals who do not lead sexual life according to religion factors or maybe some strong traumatic dramas in their lives, and they usually sublimate sexual energy into something else.
There are ways to avoid sexual traumas. If a sexual trauma has already happened to a person, it is possible to avoid the consequences of sexual traumas. Substance abuse is a widely spread consequence of sexual trauma. And it can also be avoided with a help of appropriate attention of parents, sexual education and specialist’s help in traumatic cases. Sexual education is as well important as education in general. Social support is necessary for children and teens, who have been influenced by sexual trauma to prevent substance abuse.

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