How Are Dissociative Amnesia And Addiction Linked?

Amnesia is most often associated with head injuries, but there is a specific form of memory loss that occurs without injury or the influence of drugs or alcohol: dissociative amnesia. The mind creates this type of amnesia to protect a person from memories of past trauma. But when trauma does not receive proper attention and treatment, it can lead to devastating consequences like addiction. How are dissociative amnesia and addiction linked?

If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction along with memory loss, you can count on the compassionate care at Promises Right Step. Our whole-person approach to recovery addresses mental, physical, and emotional health. Through a customized combination of therapies, medication, and support, you or someone you care about will be well on their way to a brighter future. Call us at 17135283709 to learn more about our addiction treatment programs.

What Is Dissociative Amnesia?

Dissociative amnesia is a complex psychological disorder characterized by memory loss unrelated to physical injury, substance misuse, or memory disorders like Alzheimer’s. Instead, this type of amnesia is typically associated with traumatic experiences, such as:

  • Childhood neglect or abuse
  • Natural disasters
  • Military combat
  • Sexual assault
  • Serious accidents

Dissociative amnesia serves as a coping mechanism in the mind to protect the person from emotional pain or distress.

What Happens When Someone Has Dissociative Amnesia?

How are dissociative amnesia and addiction linked? Memory loss is the primary symptom of dissociative amnesia. People with this condition may experience a significant inability to recall important personal information, such as their own identity or traumatic events. Although memories are not permanently erased, they are inaccessible due to the dissociative barriers created by the mind.

Certain memories or associations with past trauma may be too overwhelming or painful to remember. By essentially wiping memories of the traumatic event, at least temporarily, the mind prevents the person from having to relive them. 

While this might sound beneficial, it is only a short-term fix. Dissociative amnesia can lead to several challenges, one of which is the potential for addiction.

How Are Dissociative Amnesia and Addiction Linked?

People with dissociative amnesia often struggle with unresolved trauma or distressing memories that they are unable to access consciously. These unresolved emotional issues can contribute to feelings of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Overall feelings of unease

Without proper treatment through therapy and medication, if necessary, the person will be much more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to escape their overwhelming emotions. And since their distress is related to memories they cannot access, they might struggle to understand why they feel like they do. That makes it much harder to address the root cause of their challenges unless they seek professional help.

Treatment for Dissociative Amnesia and Addiction

Addressing dissociative amnesia and addiction requires a comprehensive treatment approach like dual diagnosis treatment. This particular method of addiction treatment focuses on helping people heal from addiction and co-occurring disorders like dissociative amnesia. Your treatment plan will be customized to your needs, which may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
  • Medication
  • Support groups

To effectively treat dissociative amnesia and addiction together, therapies will focus on processing trauma so the person can deal with it and move forward rather than suppressing it or having their minds continue to keep those memories inaccessible. While there are no medications specifically to treat dissociative amnesia, the condition is often affiliated with anxiety and depression, so antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be used. Other medications may also be part of treatment to minimize drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Contact Promises Right Step for Comprehensive Addiction Treatment

If you experience symptoms of dissociative amnesia and have been coping through self-medication, it is time to get the help you desperately need. Promises Right Step is here to guide you back to the path of well-being through a variety of therapies and medication. Contact us online or call today at 17135283709 to schedule an intake assessment and start the healing process.

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