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  • Brianna Paruolo

Therapist Reviews: What Julia Fox's Memoir Can Teach Us About Addiction and Trauma

Over the weekend, I immersed myself in 'Down The Drain,' a captivating novel penned by Julia Fox. Between sessions and at night, I swapped my usual wind-down routine with picking up my Kindle and taking in chapter by chapter of this enthralling story. Almost on every page, I took away something new, with my understanding and training on trauma, toxic relationships, and substance use, garnering a new perspective. Here are my top three mental health takeaways from 'Down The Drain.'

Addiction: A Complex Dual Diagnosis

Julia's story reminded me that addiction is never black and white. 'Down The Drain' vividly portrays addiction as a dual diagnosis—a condition often intertwined with underlying psychological and emotional factors. Fox details the rollercoaster ride that comes with substance abuse, including multiple overdoses and the tragic deaths of loved ones.

Julia's story reminds us that addiction that starts in adolescence is a coping mechanism, not a moral failing. 'Down The Drain' shares Julia's early substance use as a means to try to numb emotional wounds from childhood trauma and family dysfunction. This underscores how youth, still developing and lacking healthy coping skills, can turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate in hopes of feeling better.

Rather than shaming, we need greater access to counseling, mentorship, and teen rehabilitation programs. With compassion and early intervention, young people have a greater chance at overcoming addiction before it takes hold. Treatment should empower teens to process their emotions, trauma, and mental health challenges in a healthy way. Julia's story is a call to action to better support at-risk youth.

Her unflinching honesty about her journey of sobriety, relapse, and unwavering faith (often praying to God with the promise that she would never touch a substance again) is a refreshing take on a topic that might still be considered taboo in public discourse.

What Julia Fox's Trauma Bonding Reveals About Relationships

This leads me to the next takeaway: the people you surround yourself with matter. Julia's experience underscores the profound impact of our social circle. Quick to strike up a new friendship each time she suffered the blow of losing a close friend (whether this was due to moving to another country, adult interference, or the circumstances of life), each relationship added another intricate layer to Fox’s upbringing. Julia's instant, intense connections throughout the book echo patterns seen in trauma bonding. Trauma bonding occurs when abuse and intermittent periods of kindness create powerful emotional bonds and cognitive dissonance. Julia's childhood emotional neglect and lack of stable parental attachment likely made her vulnerable to mistaking toxicity for love. Overcoming trauma bonding involves building self-worth, setting firm boundaries, and breaking contact with abusers. With support, those conditioned by past trauma can learn to foster healthy relationships. Choosing people who choose you—surrounding yourself with individuals who aim to uplift rather than tear you down—will play a significant role in one's well-being.

Toxic Relationships Often Start Subtly

Lastly, Fox’s recount of a plethora of toxic relationships all share a commonality: toxic relationships often start so subtly that they are hard to notice. 'Down The Drain' uncovers the subtle nuances that can lead to emotional turmoil. She details the physical, emotional, and mental abuse inflicted by these abusive men, as well as the complications of lust, love, and fear of abandonment being strong factors reeling her back into the toxic relationship cycle. No one ever has the right to inflict harm, pain, or abuse on another human being.

Toxic relationships, as depicted in the book, often involve emotional manipulation, control, and physical abuse. Recognizing the early signs like possessiveness, isolation, and verbal put-downs can help you identify an unhealthy dynamic. Seeking help from a therapist or calling a domestic violence hotline is crucial to breaking free from these harmful patterns. You deserve to feel safe, respected, and cared for in your relationships.

Resources for Help:

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, domestic abuse, or parental abuse, please consider seeking help from the following resources:

Substance Use:

National Helpline for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services: 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357)

SMART Recovery:

Domestic Abuse:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233)

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)

Parental Abuse:

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

National Parent Helpline: 1-855-4A-Parent (1-855-427-2736)


About the Author: Brianna Paruolo, MSED, CMHC-LP, works as a women's perfectionist and self-esteem therapist, offering guidance and support to women who want freedom from the pressures they so often place on themselves. She is passionate that everyone can welcome a new normal where they love themselves and face the future with hope. Send her an email at to connect today!

Legal Notice: The content presented in this blog post/Instagram post is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide mental health treatment. It is crucial to consult with a qualified mental health professional for personalized advice or treatment regarding your specific circumstances. Reading or engaging with this content does not establish a client-counselor relationship, and the author is not liable for any actions taken based on the information provided. It is recommended to seek up-to-date information and consult professionals for the latest advancements in mental health research and practice. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact your local emergency services or helpline immediately.

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