The 7 Stages of Trauma Bonding and Its Connection to Addiction

Written By Alla Levin
February 19, 2024

The 7 Stages of Trauma Bonding and Its Connection to Addiction

Trauma bonding is a psychological phenomenon that develops in response to sustained emotional or physical abuse. It has far-reaching implications for an individual’s mental well-being. Often overlooked, trauma bonding can also play a significant role in the development and perpetuation of addiction.

Under professional guidance provided through outpatient clinical and extended care programs, the cycle of trauma bonding can be addressed. What is it, and what role does it play concerning addiction problems? Let’s explore the seven stages of trauma bonding and look into the intricate connection between trauma bonding and addiction.

Initial Attraction and the “Honeymoon Phase”

Trauma bonding typically begins with an intense emotional connection during the initial stages of a relationship. The abuser may shower the victim with love, attention, and affection, creating a sense of euphoria and security.

This honeymoon period serves as the foundation for the bond, making it challenging for the victim to recognize potential signs of abuse.

Tension Builds

As the relationship progresses, tension starts to build. The abuser may display unpredictable behavior, leading to anxiety and fear in the victim.

However, the intermittent reinforcement of positive experiences from the honeymoon phase helps keep the victim tethered to the abuser. This creates a cycle of hope that the relationship will return to its original state of bliss.

Incidents of Abuse FollowStages of Trauma Bonding

The tension inevitably escalates into incidents of abuse. This can be emotional, verbal, physical, or a combination of all of these. The victim experiences pain and suffering, yet the traumatic bond tightens as a coping mechanism.

The victim may rationalize the abuse or believe they deserve it, reinforcing the bond through a distorted perception of reality.

Period of Reconciliation

Following an abusive episode, the abuser often expresses remorse and apologizes, triggering a reconciliation phase. The abuser may promise to change, fueling the victim’s hope for a better future and strengthening the trauma bond.

This intermittent reinforcement of love and remorse further entangles the victim in the cycle of abuse.

Calm and Loving Period

After the reconciliation, there is a period of calm and apparent love. The abuser reverts to the behavior exhibited during the honeymoon phase. This creates a false sense of relief and comfort for the victim.

This cycle perpetuates the trauma bond, as the victim becomes addicted to the emotional highs experienced in the intermittent positive phases.

Tension Starts to Resurface

Despite the calm period, tension soon begins to resurface, signaling the impending repetition of the cycle. The victim becomes conditioned to expect the cycle of abuse, and the fear of the unknown binds them to the abuser.

This anticipation of tension often heightens anxiety and stress, further deepening the trauma bond.

Acceptance and Denial

In the final stage, the victim accepts the cyclical nature of the relationship, often denying the severity of the abuse. The trauma bond becomes a pervasive force, hindering the victim’s ability to break free. Addiction may emerge as a coping mechanism, providing an escape from the emotional turmoil and a way to numb the pain.

Understanding the seven stages of trauma bonding is crucial for recognizing its connection to addiction. Breaking free from the cycle requires intervention, support, and professional help. Recognizing the profound impact of trauma bonding on addiction is a vital step toward fostering healing and empowering individuals to reclaim their lives.

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