Polyvictimization and Substance Abuse for Self-Medication: Is This You?


Research has shown that over 60% of children younger than 18 years old have experienced 1 or more direct or witnessed past year victimizations; this includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, bullying, exposure to family violence, and more. Polyvictimization refers to the experience of multiple kinds of abuse – for example, a person experiencing physical abuse, sexual abuse, and bullying throughout childhood. The emphasis with this term is experiencing various kinds of abuse, rather than multiple episodes of one form of abuse. Trauma of any kind can lead to depression and anxiety, behavioral changes or problems, learning difficulties, sleeping and eating problems, and more.

The U.S. Department of Justice states that children exposed to violence at an early age are several times more likely to also experience other types of abuse.  There are several different individual and environmental factors that could have an impact on the susceptibility of a child experiencing polyvictimization: 1) living in a family that experiences considerable violence and conflict, 2) having a family that is rooted in problems with money, employment, and substance abuse, 3) living in or moving to a dangerous neighborhood, and 4) being a child with pre-existing emotional problems that could lead to risky behavior or trouble protecting themselves.

Since traumatic experiences can have a lasting impact, substance abuse can easily make its way into people’s lives. A 2013 study conducted by researchers from the University of Nebraska at Omaha found that participants exposed to violence increased their frequency of substance abuse three years later. Many develop substance abuse problems from modeling what their parents have done, while others turn to substance abuse to self-medicate.

People may often engage in self-medication to deal with feelings of anger, stress, depression, low self-esteem, and more. Research has also shown that substance abuse can further exacerbate symptoms of a mental illness, substance abuse can also make it more difficult for a person to recover from traumatic events. If you have experienced traumatic events, whether during your childhood or during adulthood, self-medication can further harm your mental and physical health.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery treatment center. If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery and develop the tools you need to succeed and overcome life’s obstacles, call us today at 888-743-0490 for a consultation. Our licensed, experienced health care team will work with you to restore your mind, body, and spirit. Don’t wait any longer – call today.