A strong link exists between childhood trauma and addiction. Trauma is defined as any event or set of circumstances experienced by a person as threatening or emotionally or physically harmful. It’s important to realize that traumatic experiences are different for everyone. What one person considers traumatic, another person may not. Therefore, trauma comes in many forms and is specific to the individual.
In this post, we’re going to learn more about emotional and psychological trauma, its link to addiction and effective ways for managing symptoms.
What is Emotional and Psychological Trauma?
Emotional and psychological trauma refers to stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and hopeless. As a result, it’s a normal response to feel numb, disconnected and distrusting of others. Emotional and psychological trauma is not the same as physical trauma, but it can be just as intrusive. Sadly, because this trauma cannot be seen, it’s hard for others to know the impact it can have.
Here are a few examples of where emotional and psychological trauma can originate from:
- One-time events, such as accidents, injuries, violent attacks or natural disasters. If the event occurred in your childhood or was unexpected, it can be even more frightening.
- Ongoing stress can lead to long-term traumatic experiences. Examples include living in a crime-ridden neighborhood, experiencing domestic violence or being the victim of childhood neglect.
- Overlooked traumas can have an impact on your adulthood, too. Commonly overlooked issues are the death of a loved one, a difficult breakup or being bullied in grade school.
Trauma is very real and very personal. Unfortunately, if trauma is not resolved, it can lead to long-term problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or substance abuse.
Why Trauma Victims Turn to Substance Abuse
Trauma makes it difficult to manage negative emotions, which can cause you to seek unhealthy ways of coping. Consider that in behavioral health settings, over 90 percent of clients have experienced trauma. Additionally, trauma is a risk factor for nearly all behavioral health and substance use disorders.
While drugs and alcohol can offer temporary relief, they create a whole new host of problems. When you’re under the influence, it’s easy to push your feelings away and not deal with them. Unfortunately, these feelings don’t go away – they continue to live in your body. Not only does the trauma resurface at times, but also you can become dependent on drugs and alcohol.
Over time, dependency turns to addiction, and addiction has many serious consequences. For example, this brain disorder can lead to relationship problems, financial setbacks and legal issues. When these consequences combine with the effects of the trauma, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, helpless and hopeless. Fortunately, trauma and addiction respond to treatment.
Best Treatments for Trauma and Addiction
Trauma and substance abuse are co-occurring disorders, so it’s important to treat both conditions at the same time for the best results. Otherwise, the effects from the trauma will continue to surface and interfere with your recovery.
Here are some of the best treatments for trauma and addiction. Acceptance Recovery Center offers all of these therapies.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT focuses on the relationship between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Altering your unhelpful thinking can lead to healthier behaviors.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. EMDR helps the mind and body heal from past trauma by repositioning how a person remembers the experience and perceives the harm. EMDR is highly successful treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Cognitive reprocessing. CPT is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that can help if you are “stuck” in your traumatic experience. It’s highly effective for treating PTSD and usually requires 12 sessions.
- Individual and group therapy. Talk therapy lets you work through your trauma, learn healthy coping strategies and share your experiences with others.
- Dialectical behavior therapy. DBT involves learning new skills that focus on emotion regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness and interpersonal effectiveness. By developing these skills, you can manage overwhelming feelings and self-defeating behaviors.
Helpful Coping Strategies
Once you complete a trauma treatment program, you will transition into your everyday life. It’s important that you maintain a healthy and balanced schedule that supports sobriety and manages symptoms of trauma. Here are some coping strategies that we recommend to our trauma clients:
- Connect with others, including those who have shared similar experiences.
- Acknowledge that you have been through difficult times.
- Exercise. Even a simple walk around the block recharges your mind and restores your energy.
- Enjoy relaxation activities like yoga, stretching, massage or meditation.
- Follow a balanced diet and sleep schedule.
- Avoid over-stimulants like nicotine, caffeine or sugar.
- Do something meaningful every day.
- Have healthy outlets for stress like art or music.
Trauma Therapy at Acceptance Recovery Center
Acceptance Recovery Center has an effective and compassionate trauma therapy program. Our trauma team identifies the source of the trauma and its severity, as not everyone fully understands their trauma and its origin. We then follow a comprehensive approach to healing that includes science-based therapies like EMDR and CBT, as well as holistic healing practices like music, art and yoga.
While you can’t change the past, you can change the way the trauma affects you. If you are ready to process unresolved trauma, learn new coping strategies and address your substance abuse problem, Acceptance Recovery Center is here to help. We specialize in trauma therapy and have a number of treatment options that can serve your needs. Contact us today to learn more.