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How Sexual Abuse and Addiction are Linked

A close-up photo of a woman hugging her knees to her chest.
Sexual abuse can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts and addiction.


Every day we read reports about another man being accused of sexual assault. What we don’t hear that much about are the many ways that such a crime can affect its victims.

Some victims feel lonely and isolated. Others experience feelings of shame and depression. Post-traumatic stress disorder is another common outcome following sexual assault.

It’s easy to understand how someone would turn to drugs or alcohol to escape those feelings—even if the escape is temporary and potentially dangerous.

One in Six Women

A quick look at the numbers shows just how common—and damaging—sexual assault is. One in six women in the United States has been the victim of rape or attempted rape, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

As we have also seen in the news lately, it’s not just women. One out of every 10 rape victims is male.

The Damage Caused by Sexual Abuse and Drug Use

About one-third of women who are raped contemplate suicide, according to RAINN. Almost all women (94 percent) who are raped experience some post-traumatic stress disorder. Approximately 70 percent of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress.

RAINN’s statistics show that victims of sexual assault often turn to drugs. In fact, they’re 10 times more likely to use “major” drugs than those who have not been assaulted.

The thing is, drugs and alcohol just make everything worse. Symptoms of depression and anxiety may go away while a person is using, but they come raging back and the downward spiral continues.

Recovery and The Raleigh House

Victims of sexual assault who also battle addiction can recover and build a new life. But it’s critical that treatment addresses both the addiction and the trauma that leads to it. The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that specializes in treating co-occurring conditions like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Our team of experts works together to tackle the physical, psychological, mental, emotional and social aspects of addiction. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs.

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