Trauma and Addiction: Unearthing Your Hidden Emotions

Trauma and Addiction: Unearthing Your Hidden Emotions

Discovering the underlying causes of your addictive behaviors can be a transformative experience. You may be hiding or masking emotional pain by engaging in compulsive behaviors that do not serve to heal you. Uncovering your hidden emotions may be painful and you may have built up powerful defenses to protect yourself.

Traumatic experiences can lead to numerous unhealthy thought and behavioral patterns. Some people develop disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following scary, disturbing, or life-threatening events. PTSD and other trauma-related disorders can affect both the body and the mind.

As you engage in the process of recovery, you may discover that you have been holding on to past traumas in life. Recovery may be challenging and you may have to face these traumatic memories to heal from them.

Trauma: Natural Responses to Danger

Trauma is caused by a natural response to threats or danger. You, and all other people, have a strong instinct for survival and powerful ways of escaping or fighting off threats to your life. We all have what is known as a “flight or fight” response when our lives are threatened. The flight or fight response gives us the energy and strength needed to either run from (flight) or physically challenge (fight) any perceived threats to our lives.

While the flight or fight response worked well for human beings before building civilizations and social structures, we rarely encounter the same kind of threats that our instinctual drive was meant to handle. Animals do not experience trauma as humans do, as animals use the flight or fight energy in response to threats. People, however, tend to face dangerous situations that we cannot run from or fight.

As a result, we hold onto our trauma, as we are unable to release the energy that builds up in us to run or fight. Our bodies may manifest this energy in the form of disorders or other cognitive impairments. We may develop fear when facing similar situations, even when the threat is no longer there. We may experience flashbacks or feel frightened easily.

We may have a difficult time recalling or thinking about past events due to traumatic pain. We may blame ourselves for not running or fighting in situations where we were threatened. As you begin to heal in recovery, you may begin to realize things about your past that you have repressed or tried to forget.

You may be using substances or alcohol as a way of distracting or numbing yourself from experiencing these painful thoughts and memories. Recovery can truly begin when you learn to face the underlying issues of your addictions.

Facing Trauma: Experiencing Pain to Heal and Grow

While traumatic events can be painful to recall, many of your peers in recovery have also experienced trauma in their lives. You are not alone in your pain! You may find that having peers who relate to your experiences can encourage you to talk about your trauma.

By joining in peer discussion groups, you may realize that others have similar emotions and underlying stressors contributing to their addictive behaviors. If during your recovery you begin to uncover painful emotions related to trauma, you can begin to heal from this pain in safe and supportive environments.

Support and Safety: Learning to Heal

Traumatic experiences may leave us feeling like we are constantly in danger. We may feel unsafe in any situation that reminds us of our trauma. When we are constantly in places that make us feel threatened, opening up emotionally and being vulnerable can be difficult.

During your recovery, you may be in safe and therapeutic environments more frequently. Being around people who are non-threatening and helpful can provide you with the environment needed to heal from trauma. You may need to relive and re-experience painful memories from your past, but during treatment in recovery, you can develop support networks of people that you trust.

As you spend more and more time around trustworthy people and in safe spaces, you may begin to feel differently about the world around you. Once you can trust the immediate environment, you can begin to expose your emotions to learn better ways of coping with your pain.

Your addictive behaviors may have been your way of dealing with trauma. Addictions to alcohol or other drugs only numb you from true growth and change. Addictive behaviors distract you and keep you from moving forward. You can find better ways of coping by being vulnerable and allowing yourself to face your past traumas.

Many of us in recovery have experienced trauma in our past. We may have grown up in troubled households, survived abusive relationships, or faced immediate life-threatening experiences that have left an imprint upon our psyche. The impact of trauma can be devastating and we may feel hopeless in healing or fearful of experiencing painful emotions. Finding a safe and supportive environment can provide us with the care we need to expose our pasts. Only when we face the past, can we learn to move forward. We can meet others who can relate to our experiences and build resiliency to recover from our addictions. Enlightened Solutions understands that trauma can be a cause of addictions for many people. We have alternative approaches to recovery treatment and aim to uncover the underlying causes of addiction. Call us at (833) 801-5483 to begin your path to healing.


Intrinsic Motivation: Becoming Who You Want to Be

Intrinsic Motivation: Becoming Who You Want to Be

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Writer, Lecturer, and Philosopher

Recovery is both difficult and rewarding. Much of our success can depend upon our motivations to begin seeking growth and change. We may have wanted to change our addictive behaviors for some time now and recently made the first step towards growth.

We may have been encouraged by family members to make a positive change. Those who care for us want to see us happy and healthy. They know that we deserve better for ourselves. We know that our loved ones also deserve the best version of ourselves.

Staying motivated during recovery can be a challenge. We will need to make changes that may be difficult. We may need to abandon old habits and build new skills to better cope with the stressors of life. When we are motivated from within ourselves, or intrinsically motivated, we may be more successful in our recovery.

Positive Feelings and Personal Initiatives

While many of us may have had others urge us to seek recovery from our addictions, we are the ones who have to make the change. No one can recover for us. To paraphrase the opening quote, who we decide to become will determine who we will be!

We must make this decision, even if others are giving us feedback and advice. When we take the initiative to make positive changes, we will be motivating ourselves to seek what makes us feel good. We consider what we enjoy doing or what inspires us and grow by creating a positive feedback loop.

We seek growth and change simply because these things make us feel good. Intrinsic motivation is our internal reward system that reinforces things we like or enjoy. The rewards are internal, meaning that the activities and actions make us feel happy and content without an external reward. When we are intrinsically motivated, our reward is the positive feeling we get from engaging in a task or activity.

External Rewards Versus Internal Rewards

During recovery, we will often be rewarded more internally than externally. External rewards are things like getting a paycheck or a bonus at work. External rewards can also be trophies for winning a sports tournament or medals for participating in a foot race.

Motivations from external rewards, however, can be beyond our control or only received when we meet the expectations of others. While external rewards can help us stay motivated, internal rewards ultimately drive our self-improving behavior and push us to challenge ourselves.

We may play a sport or run a race because the activity feels good to us. Trophies and medals may be a bonus, however, they are not the overall motivator. Some external rewards may be necessary to keep us motivated for things that we must do, like our jobs.

Many of us would be hard-pressed to say that we would continue with our jobs without a paycheck! Intrinsic motivation, however, may guide us toward goals for completing our jobs with quality for our self-satisfaction. The pride we feel at the end of a hard day’s work can be a reward that helps us remain in our careers.

Recovery and Intrinsic Motivation: The Bigger Picture

Moving forward and achieving recovery goals are not often met with external rewards. We are unlikely to get a paycheck for becoming a better person. No one will pay us for achieving our self-rewarding goals or for engaging in self-care acts.

Recovery involves looking at the bigger picture and motivating ourselves for taking steps forward for our betterment. We will be motivated by our needs to improve and change our lives for the better. We will be able to look ourselves in the mirror, knowing that we did our best and made positive changes.

While we may feel challenged and feel like giving up, intrinsic motivations will help us maintain the course of our recovery. Self-directed and individualistic recovery plans will feel good to us and will satisfy our expectations. When we seek growth and change, the bigger picture matters more than the external rewards, as those will come and go throughout.

When we feel good about ourselves and the changes we made in our recovery, we will continue to move forward in positive ways. We will continue to excite ourselves by achieving what we did not think was possible before. By building a positive feedback loop within ourselves, we engage in our recovery journey. We can become the person we were meant to be!

Are you doing the best that you can? Have you achieved success in fulfilling the expectations of others while feeling empty inside? You may not have felt personally rewarded by fulfilling the expectations of others without thinking about what is important to you. You may never have thought about doing things for no other reason than they feel good for you. When beginning recovery from addictions, we may have been encouraged by others to seek help and care programs. We may feel like we are only doing so to satisfy the needs of others. The people in your life who care for you want to see you happy. Finding happiness can only be determined on your terms. When you chase only external rewards, you may feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied. By looking at the bigger picture of improving for yourself, recovery will become rewarding for its own sake. Enlightened Solutions understands the importance of intrinsic motivation in recovery. Call us today at (833) 801-5483 to seek care for you or a loved one!


Fears of a Sober Life

Fears of a Sober Life

Not everyone enters the sober life confidently. If you have been an alcoholic or addicted to drugs for years, it may be hard for you to picture your life without it. By knowing what your fears are towards entering a sober lifestyle, you will realize those fears are only in your head and that sobriety can turn your life around for the better.

Willpower

One fear you may have is that you do not have the willpower to stop substance abuse. You are afraid that if you try recovery, you will fail. Failure is a big fear for everyone whether you abuse substances or you do not. Instead of thinking hard about what will happen if you fail, think more about what will happen if you do not try. If you do not try, your money will continue to run out, your health will decline, your relationships will continue to be torn, and you will continue to be a person that no one will recognize anymore. The worst that can happen during sobriety is that you relapse. But if you relapse, just remind yourself how normal it is and continue on with your treatment. Lean on to your sponsor, friends, and family.

Dislike For Sobriety

A second fear can be that you are afraid you will not like sobriety. You were always used to having drugs or alcohol in your hands and spending all of your free time doing drugs. Without it, you have no idea how to fill up that time and will feel like you are suffering. We tend to fear the unknown. We cannot see what our future will be like and are used to a routine. The truth is that you should instead walk into a sobriety lifestyle with a positive attitude. Do not assume that you will hate it before you have even tried it.

Being Boring

A third fear is being afraid that you will see yourself as boring as well as your friends. Drinking and drugs tend to make us think we are more fun as we have lost our inhibitions. We just do and say what instantly comes to our minds without thinking. It is called “liquid courage” as the substance gives you the courage to be outgoing. Loss of inhibition, though, is not considered a good thing as many bad things can happen to you. You can end up saying something that hurts someone’s feelings, sleeping with strangers, using up your entire savings, or end up intoxicated behind the wheel. It is never boring to be safe and healthy. You will actually be more fun to be around knowing that intoxication from substances cannot limit you. You can fully enjoy everything and people can have fun around someone who is thinking straight.

A Boring Life

A fourth fear is that no drugs or alcohol will make your life boring. Life with drugs and alcohol have made you feel sick and made your life more complicated. Without it, you have unlimited energy to do all of the things you want to do. You can do anything you want and still have fun without drugs or alcohol. You can go to a movie, a carnival, go traveling, play sports, and more that will make you smile. Think about all of the money you will have now that used to always be spent on drugs and alcohol. Now, it can be used to fund a vacation or buy presents for the people who have been there for you through this journey.

Coping Mechanisms

You started drinking or doing drugs most likely as a way of coping with trauma or problems that you did not want to face. A fifth fear is not knowing how to cope anymore without drugs or alcohol. Pain is scary to experience. But, one benefit of pain is that it is a reminder that you need to get help. Drugs and alcohol may seem to make you feel better about your inner trauma, but can actually make you feel worse. This is what causes you to abuse substances more so that the effects would be greater. Instead of relying on drugs or alcohol to help, rely on your therapist and other helpful methods that you learned in treatment. Learning healthy coping skills will teach you how to turn your sadness into happiness so you can be in good spirits around your social circle.

Losing Friends

A sixth fear is that your friends will no longer be around you when you are sober. You are scared that they used to think of you as fun when you were intoxicated and that you will have no friends left after. Your true friends will support your recovery. They will not force you to go back to old habits. If they do, these are people that you need to cut out of your life. Being sober will allow you to make lasting friendships that are real. 

Everything Will Be Different

A seventh fear is that your life will be so much different without drugs or alcohol and you are not prepared for it. Yes, your life will be different, but it will be so much better. Be excited about entering into treatment. Your life of hangovers and guilt will be over. By choosing to have a sober life, you have a better chance of having a positive and beneficial life with your loved ones.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Coping Skills

Coping Skills

Addiction is the process of finding external substances to resolve internal conflicts.  Commonly, when hearing an addict share the story of how addiction was born in their life, one will hear a story of someone who was uncomfortable within themselves.  Then, they discovered an external substance that mask these feelings of discomfort and allow them the delusion of being connected in their communities in spite of this internal dis-ease.  At some point, the coping ceased being effective and their lives became a vicious cycle of self-destructive behaviors. Then, the addict will hit some kind of bottom and an awakening, sometimes immediate, other times gradual, will occur.   Recovery begins.

The natural orientation for many addicts during this early phase of recovery is self-loathing for all of the time and opportunity lost.  Yet, there is another perspective available.  The addict survived to the point of finding recovery due to the engagement of unhealthy coping.  They made it to the point in life that new possibilities opened for their life.  Without the unhealthy coping of addiction, who can know how these intense internal experiences of self may have been dealt with.  One can look at this survival as a beautiful gift of opportunity to live a life that may not have been otherwise available.

Beyond celebrating the miracle of making it to the point of recovery, it can also be honored that coping is a mastered skill.  Now, it is simply the journey of learning how to apply the coping techniques to healthy behaviors.  For many people in recovery, there is a period of transferring very unhealthy coping to less unhealthy coping before arriving at healthy coping.  For example, cocaine and whiskey may be exchanged for coffee and cigarettes.  A great step in the healthy direction but then, these are exchanged for excessive exercise and a vigilant focus on healthy foods.  All of these are stages of the coping release journey and each transition can be celebrated as progress.  

Eventually, we hope that the addict will come to the place where they live each day, fully present, engaging recovery tools and a full vital life.  The goal is for all of this to manifest without the need to mask the life experience with an obsessive focus on anything, whether a mind-altering substance or a health-promoting substance.  The addict has arrived at the recovery mecca, a state of balance.  

 

Enlightened Recovery Solutions offers a harmonious approach to holistic treatment, bringing together the best of evidence-based, alternative, and 12-step therapies. Call us today for information on our transformation programs of treatment for addiction and alcoholism: 833-801-5483.