Understanding the Correlation Between Trauma and Addiction

Understanding the Correlation Between Trauma and Addiction

Trauma is an emotional response to an occurrence that had abundant negative impacts on someone’s life. Examples of trauma could include an accident, assault, natural disaster, and more. There are various types of trauma, and trauma may be perceived and experienced differently by different people.

Trauma is often something people would prefer not to talk about. In the past, it may have been a little stigmatized, implying that discussing your trauma was a sign of weakness. Today, society seems to be embracing the importance of acknowledging and processing trauma as it relates to healing and overall health.

Opening up about trauma can be very difficult. Usually, traumatic events are something people may prefer to avoid thinking or talking about as they can bring up terrible memories. However, trauma that is left unresolved or unprocessed can present issues in all areas of life. Just because you aren’t talking about it doesn’t mean you don’t still think about it, whether it is through conscious thoughts or not. Sometimes, trauma creeps up and affects areas of functioning without you even realizing it. Trauma can impact relationships, affect productivity, and lead to substance use.

Trauma and Addiction

It has been found that trauma and substance abuse can be closely related. For example, many who have experienced trauma in their life turn to using drugs or alcohol to cope with thoughts and feelings relating to their trauma. They may use it as an escape or distraction to avoid thinking about or focusing on unpleasant events of the past.

As mentioned by Lamya Khoury, Yilang L Tang, Bekh Bradley, Joe F Cubells, and Kerry J Ressler in their 2010 article that appears in the Depression and Anxiety journal, "Early traumatic experience may increase risk of substance use disorders (SUDs) because of attempts to self-medicate or to dampen mood symptoms associated with a dysregulated biological stress response.” This can often be what jump-starts addiction. When you realize that something helps take your mind off thoughts or feelings that can be really negative and consuming, you’re inclined to continue seeking that remedy.

On the other hand, those who use substances are more likely to be put in situations where they could experience trauma as a result of their lifestyle. Substance use increases the likelihood of victimization in many different ways. You are more likely to be present in unsafe environments, engage and interact with others who are engaging in unsafe behaviors, and you’re more likely to have your judgment skewed as your main focus is to seek and obtain your substance of choice.

Addressing Trauma During Treatment

A thorough assessment at intake can be critical to identifying any trauma that may be present and needs addressing. As someone goes through the treatment process, it’s important to address any underlying conditions that could be encouraging substance-using behaviors. Understanding what led to the substance abuse and what continues to drive it for each client is critical to their recovery.

Attempting to treat just someone’s addiction if they have experienced trauma in their life would be only a short-term fix at best. Following treatment, that individual would most likely still be impacted by the trauma that led them to use drugs or alcohol in the first place. Essentially, you would only be treating the surface-level issue. Digging deep and understanding what really led someone to make the decision to use substances they likely knew could be risky is important to their recovery success.

Some may not even be aware that their trauma could have led to their addiction. It can be common to suppress memories and negative thoughts and emotions so deeply that they may not even be acknowledged when discussing how addiction began. Therapists and intake specialists are trained to help you identify any trauma that may exist, no matter how historical or deeply suppressed it may be.

Choosing a Facility With a Trauma-Informed Approach

Choosing a treatment facility that prioritizes holistic healing can make all the difference. Staff is trained to address trauma first and help you work through any underlying issues that could serve as a barrier to your growth, success, and healing. They are aware of trauma symptoms and signs as they may present in those with SUD. It’s important to process your own feelings and emotions throughout treatment and understand how to cope with these to avoid relapse in the future. At Enlightened Solutions, we can help you do this.

Confronting trauma can be hard, particularly if it is not something that you have ever really sat with and thought about before. Discovering existing trauma and learning that this could have been the driving force behind your addiction can be incredibly enlightening. You will leave feeling empowered knowing that you are more aware of yourself and are now equipped with the tools to take back control of your life.

Trauma and addiction can be directly related. For many, one may be the cause of the other. Whether you began using drugs or drinking alcohol to cope with trauma or you experienced trauma as a result of substance abuse, there is usually a correlation. Addressing any trauma clients may have experienced as part of the treatment process is critical. This increases the likelihood of long-term success and reduces the risk of relapse. Enlightened Solutions conducts a thorough assessment to identify any trauma that may be contributing to your substance abuse at intake, and develops a plan catered to your specific needs. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and could benefit from our trauma-informed approach to treatment, don't hesitate to reach out. To begin your journey to recovery, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.


The Role of Brainspotting for Trauma and Addiction

Addiction does not develop in a vacuum. Many therapists think that unresolved trauma is at the root of many substance use disorders (SUD). Unprocessed trauma also puts individuals at higher risk of developing mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), conditions that frequently accompany addiction. One of the newer treatments for these issues is brainspotting.

What Is Brainspotting?

Brainspotting (BSP) is a therapeutic modality developed in 2003 by Dr. David Grand. It grew out of his experiences with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapies. According to an article that was published on the website goodtherapy.org, in brainspotting, a therapist with specialized training in the technique guides the eyes of the client “across their field of vision to find appropriate ‘brainspots’...an eye position that activates a traumatic memory or painful emotion.” Frequently, the visual stimulation is accompanied by biolateral, also called bilateral, sound or music, which alternates between the right and left sides of the client’s head. As the therapist directs the client’s eye movements with a pointer, he or she will ask the client what sensations they are having in their body when their eyes are focusing on various points. According to Grand, a brainspot is a point in visual space that evokes a strong reaction in the client.

Part of what makes this therapy effective is what is referred to as “dual attunement,” alluding to the therapeutic relationship between the client and the therapist and the connection between the brain and the body of the client. Therapists who are trained in brainspotting have said that they believe the technique allows the client to access their emotions on a deeper level and also address the physical aspects of the trauma.

What Trauma Does to the Brain

Here at Enlightened Solutions, a SUD treatment facility in New Jersey, when a person experiences trauma, “the processing capacity of the brain is overwhelmed. This results in aspects of the experience (feelings, beliefs, sensations) becoming stuck, encapsulated, and unprocessed in the subcortex of [the] brain. This is the area of the brain responsible for our emotions, our survival responses, and our physical sensations. In this part of the brain, there is no language and sense of time. This helps to explain why trauma survivors have difficulty processing and resolving the impact through talk therapy and continue to experiencing distressing effects long after the trauma has occurred.” 

According to a report published by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), people who have experienced trauma are at an increased risk for developing a substance use disorder. For example, 75% of the people in the study who had experienced abuse or violence indicated that they abuse alcohol, while 33% who had experienced trauma as the result of an accident, illness, or natural disaster said that they have issues with alcohol abuse. The Vietnam War veterans participating in the study who were treated for PTSD also have alcohol use disorder.

In considering trauma, it is important to note that each individual has a unique experience with life events and that what may seem like a traumatizing experience to one person may seem like not that big of a deal to another. Or, if two people experience the same event (like a car accident), one person may develop PTSD while the other recovers emotionally more quickly.

Benefits of Brainspotting

According to the staff at Enlightened Solutions, brainspotting can enable a person to process a traumatic experience without talking about it. “This therapy is able to circumvent the conscious and ‘thinking’ parts of our brain that can normally interfere with access to the emotional parts...we learn to bring awareness to our inner experience.” Brainspotting can help us to regulate our emotions, to retrain our emotional reactions, and to release experiences that are not accessible to the conscious mind. In addition, brainspotting can work much more quickly than talk therapy.

Who Can Benefit From Brainspotting?

While brainspotting has been used most often to treat patients with PTSD and those suffering from trauma who don’t meet all the diagnostic criteria of PTSD, the technique has been used to treat other conditions as well. Brainspotting has been shown to be an effective therapeutic modality for people with anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anger management issues, phobias, substance abuse, chronic fatigue and chronic pain, and impulse control issues. Brainspotting has also been used to enhance athletic performance and to boost creativity.

If you have substance abuse issues and also have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or have experienced trauma, brainspotting is one of the therapeutic modalities that could prove beneficial to you. Brainspotting is one of the many kinds of treatment that we offer at Enlightened Solutions. We offer many alternative therapies as well as more traditional talk therapy as part of the substance abuse treatment programs that we individualize for each client. We address the needs of the whole client, not just the addiction. The holistic treatment modalities that we offer, in addition to brainspotting, include yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, art and music therapy, sound therapy, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. Our treatment is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and we are located in southern New Jersey, near the shore. If you are struggling with the effects of unresolved trauma and addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We’re here to help.

Trauma and Addiction

Exploring the Relationship Between Addiction and Trauma

When we hear the word “trauma,” many of us think of a soldier returning from combat duty and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But trauma doesn’t only come from experiences in military service. Trauma can come from myriad events, including being the victim of, or witness to, violent crime; experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; developing a serious illness or chronic health condition; sustaining a serious injury; being in a car accident, or losing a loved one. In addition, a person doesn’t have to meet all the clinical criteria of PTSD to be suffering from trauma.

In thinking about trauma, it’s important to understand that everyone has a unique experience with trauma--what causes PTSD in one person may barely cause a reaction in another. For example, two women are in car accidents. Both sustain non-life-threatening injuries, and the cars are totaled. The first woman recovers from her injuries, gets another car, and goes on with her life. The second woman recovers from her physical injuries, gets another car, but develops PTSD. Every time she gets behind the wheel of a car, she experiences debilitating panic attacks. It is three years before she can confidently drive. This example serves as a reminder that every person is unique and experiences life’s events differently. Trauma is trauma, no matter how big or small the originating event may seem to others. If people are made to feel like they are “overreacting,” or that they need to “just get over it,” they may feel ashamed and may not seek out the psychological help that they need.

What Are The Symptoms of PTSD?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), outlines the types of symptoms that a person suffering from PTSD may exhibit. As explained by staff at Enlightened Solutions, these symptoms are grouped into four categories:

  • Intrusive symptoms--including flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, bodily sensations;
  • Avoidance symptoms--attempts to avoid thoughts, conversations, people, places, sounds, situations, or images that remind the person with PTSD of the trauma;
  • Negative cognition or mood symptoms--depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, shame, blame, anger, horror, negative thoughts, dissociative symptoms, fuzzy memory of the events, lack of positive emotions; and
  • Altered reactions--irritability, hypervigilance (always feeling “on edge”), aggressive behavior, self-destructive behavior, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, poor concentration, poor sleep.

Addiction--A Symptom of Trauma?

Trauma frequently leads to alcohol or drug addiction. Many mental health care professionals have indicated that trauma can be an indicator of addiction. In a report published by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), 75% of people who have experienced abuse or violence report that they have issues with alcohol abuse. Thirty-three percent of people studied who reported symptoms associated with trauma as a result of an accident, illness, or disaster indicate that they have problems with alcohol. Nearly 80% of veterans who served in the Vietnam War who are treated for PTSD also have alcohol use disorder. Women who have experienced trauma-inducing life events have a greater chance of developing alcohol use disorder than women who have not experienced traumatic events. Adolescents who have been sexually assaulted are four times more likely to abuse alcohol than their peers, more than four times more likely to abuse marijuana, and nine times more likely to abuse other drugs.

Treatments for Trauma

If a person is in treatment for substance use disorder, any underlying trauma must be considered and addressed in order for the person to fully recover. If trauma is not addressed, the person is particularly vulnerable to relapse. According to information published on the Mayo Clinic’s website, part of the treatment for trauma is psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy and can include cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Cognitive therapy is used to help patients recognize the ways of thinking, or cognitive patterns, that are keeping them rooted in the trauma. In exposure therapy, patients are exposed to the situations or memories that they find frightening in a safe manner, sometimes using virtual reality programs. EMDR combines exposure therapy with guided eye movements to help patients process traumatic events.

Alternative or complementary therapies can be especially helpful in treatment for people who have experienced trauma, particularly modalities that involve the body as well as the mind. It is said that the body can store memories much like the brain does, but without the context that the brain provides. Treatment that uses the body in some way, like equine therapy, acupuncture, or yoga and meditation, can help to access memories that may be deeply buried and can help people to integrate their minds and bodies.

At Enlightened Solutions, we understand that unprocessed trauma may be at the root of substance use disorder for our patients and we work with them to address trauma, as well as mental health issues that may underlie their addictive behaviors. Enlightened Solutions offers healing for the whole patient, not just their addiction. We develop a treatment program for each patient based on their needs as well as their goals for therapy. Our program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and combines traditional talk therapy with a range of holistic treatment modalities. Alternative therapies that we offer include family constellation therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, yoga and meditation, sound healing, art therapy, music therapy, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. We are located on the southern shore of New Jersey. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and seeking compassionate healing in a soothing environment, call us at (833) 801-5483.


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.

Feeling Left Behind: When Dysfunctional Family Roles Dictate Which Family Member Enables, Which One Develops a SUD, and Which One Becomes Lost

When one member of the family unit has a substance use disorder (SUD), everyone within the family is affected. The family becomes one of dysfunction as the SUD continues to develop and change the family dynamics. With a family history of SUD, this situation can feel like a losing battle for everyone, particularly when one family member enables the addictive behavior. Harder still is when the person suffering from the SUD is a child, the enabling person is the parent, and the other child is left to fend for themselves. 

Dysfunctional Family Roles Illuminate the Issues

Growing up in a dysfunctional family creates an environment of pain and trauma. Negative situations may occur due to the family member’s battle with their SUD, and subsequent harmful attitudes, words, and actions committed by them to other members within the family. Children raised in this environment grow up differently than others and may develop traits consistent with dysfunctional family roles. The oldest child may have to take on responsibilities at a very early age, parenting their siblings, and even taking care of their parent that is suffering from the SUD, while the youngest child may be more coddled and shielded from the traumas. However, the youngest child is also the most vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse due to their role within the family.

The oldest child may develop multiple dysfunctional family roles. For example, the oldest child may become “the lost child” or a loner role in a dysfunctional family who does not want to cause more trouble for the family and so therefore “escapes.” Escaping may mean getting lost in television shows or movies, reading, or engaging in any activity that allows them to be seen and not heard. The lost child seeks solace from the chaos and therefore may develop an elaborate fantasy life. Furthermore, solitude may lead to developing spirituality and creative pursuits, as long as low self-esteem does not diminish these efforts. It is common for the lost child to have few friends, difficulty with romantic relationships, and find comfort in material things or pets.  

This lost child is independent, and makes few demands on their parents, withdrawing into their world through their escapism. The lost child may isolate, be shy, and feel like an outsider within the family who is ignored by other family members. Furthermore, escaping the dysfunctional family and the subsequent drama may lead this child into their alcohol or drug use to momentarily escape the truth of their life. This role may develop at an extremely early age due to substance use by the parent with the SUD, and it may persist when a sibling follows the genetic path to addiction.  

The lost child may also develop traits of “the doer” in the dysfunctional family. By secluding oneself from the family, it is easy for the lost child to engage in activities outside of the home to escape. For example, the doer may become an outstanding performer, engaging in drama club, and acting in plays. Furthermore, they may become extremely responsible for themselves, leading to excellent grades in school, and even caring for younger siblings. The doer of the family is a self-appointed role, and this individual is psychologically over-developed and over-stressed at a young age when there is a parent with a SUD.

The youngest child in the dysfunctional family may find themselves in a deviant, or “problem child,” role. They may have problems in school, issues with authority, and distract the family from the parent’s SUD through this rebellion. Furthermore, this child may become “the scapegoat,” who is blamed for problems within the family, while they view the oldest child who makes no waves as the good one. This youngest child may develop psychological issues or learning problems due to their disruptive behaviors. Furthermore, they may learn to exploit their other family members to get what they want, becoming spoiled and entitled through their episodes of acting out. This child is at great risk for developing subsequent SUD to drugs or alcohol to deal with the guilt attached to these assumed roles. Furthermore, they may blame their sibling for their situation since the parent with the SUD was not responsible enough to care for them, and the sibling assumed that the caretaker role. 

The enabler of the family in this scenario is the parent without the SUD. Due to the other parent’s SUD and accompanying mental health disorders, this parent assumes responsibility for the household and the financial load, therefore leading the children to be more responsible for themselves and the daily functioning of the household. This enabling parent allows the SUD to persist and merely deals with the daily consequences as they occur. Furthermore, when the lost child and the problem child age, the lost child and doer accomplish educational and work-related goals, while the problem child persists in their deviant and irresponsible behaviors. The youngest child may then develop a SUD of their own, and the enabler parent continues to support them financially because that is all they have ever done. The SUD has merely jumped to a new family member. The lost child remains lost and alone, as the enabling parent continues to care for the family member with the SUD. 

If You are Experiencing a Dysfunctional Family and its Accompanying Roles, there is Hope for a Happier and Healthier Future

Feeling anxiety and inner rage is common when dealing with a dysfunctional family and generational SUDs. Life dramatically changes when having to deal with a family member battling a SUD, and problems arise when that behavior is enabled. Even if your family member, be it, parent or sibling, is not open to treatment right now, you have to believe they can recover, offer as much support as you can, and encourage them with love. These actions may help alleviate the pressures they feel in seeking help for their SUDs. If you or someone you know is battling a substance use disorder, call Enlightened Solutions today at 833-801-LIVE.

The Courage of Sexual Assault Survivor Chanel Miller

In 2015, Brock Turner sexually assaulted a post-college girl who went by Emily Doe for a long time. Now, she has revealed her real name to be Chanel Miller and has written a memoir of her struggles and courage throughout the trial and the person she is now. We can learn a lot through Miller in what true bravery really is in telling your story and rising above the hurt.

Miller’s Sexual Assault

In January 2015, Miller was 22 years-old living near the Stanford campus. Her sister invited her to a fraternity party at Stanford where she drank a lot of alcohol. The last thing that she remembered was drinking lukewarm beer and handing it to her sister. Two men saw Miller partially naked lying by a dumpster not moving. 19-year-old Brock Turner tried to run away, but the two witnesses tackled him and held him until the police came. 

Miller’s next memory was waking up at the hospital. She was given pamphlets on sexual assault, photographed naked to record her bruises, interviewed by a detective about that night, and underwent a rape kit test. Her worried sister picked her up and they both went home. Miller did not tell her parents or boyfriend what happened and instead tried to resume her life as normal. She recalls being afraid to sign in the form that she was a rape victim in that she had no idea what had happened and felt she would lose her sense of self admitting that was what she was. It was later found out that the sexual assault was digital penetration. She did not know her rapist’s name until 10 days later when it was said on the news.

What Happened at the Trial

A couple of months later, Miller told her parents and boyfriend about what happened. Because of the impending court trial and trauma that were consuming her life, Miller quit her job. Miller wrote in her memoir that she did not like how people were relating her sexual assault to her relationship. That her not wanting someone touching her at all that night had nothing to do with the fact that she already had a boyfriend. Miller’s fears during the trial were that she would appear to the jury as an “imperfect girl”  who drank and blacked out. She felt humiliated walking into that courtroom knowing that the judge, Turner, and his parents all saw photos of her bruised body.

The Sentencing

Turner was found guilty of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person. Turner was facing up to 14 years in prison, but the prosecutors asked for six years. Turner’s dad felt like “20 minutes of action” should not ruin his son’s life. Miller rebuffs that while Turner’s father said 20 minutes, he was not accounting for Miller’s experiences with doctors, therapy, and waking hours. Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail and three years probation, saying that a severe sentence would ruin Turner’s life. This sentence led to protests and for the judge to be recalled which happened two years later. Turner was released from jail after three months. While Miller was thankful that her rapist was arrested, tried, and convicted, Miller still felt devastated that Turner did not get the harsh sentence he deserved.

Miller’s Victim Statement

While people did not know Miller’s identity, she let her voice be heard in a letter that she read at the sentencing. She spoke about what happened before her sexual assault, the moment it happened, and the feelings she experienced after. After it was published, the statement was translated into other languages, including sign language. Messages from all over the world were sent to Miller from survivors and supporters. Before Miller gave her identity away, a new therapist suggested to her to read her statement out loud. Miller felt healed knowing that people were listening to her and got the chance to speak to other survivors. One letter had a real impact on Miller when a 16-year-old told her that her statement helped her get out of bed for the first time in two years. That response led Miller to accept what happened.

What Happened After

California Governor Jerry Brown signed two laws in 2016. One was for anyone convicted of sexual assault in California cannot be sentenced to probation. The other was that all forms of non-consensual sexual assault may be considered rape “for purposes of the gravity of the offense and support of the survivors. In 2018, Judge Persky was removed from the bench for giving Turner a lenient sentence. Turner appealed his conviction, but it was denied in 2018. Miller and her boyfriend moved to San Fransisco but was afraid of sleeping alone in fear of being alone and vulnerable triggering her back to the tragic event. At night, she would turn on all the lights, stack chairs in front of the door, and arm herself with pepper spray and scissors. Miller says she has not slept alone longer than three days. Miller’s advice to others is to listen to the stories of sexual assault survivors no matter how difficult it is and to think of survivors as people before and after the attacks. Miller’s story teaches us that there is true power in sharing your story and having a voice.

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.

Hurricane Anxiety and Trauma

Hurricane Anxiety and Trauma

When you know that a hurricane is approaching, you may start to feel anxiety like shaking, sadness, obsessively watching news updates on it, or even being afraid to leave your home. This is because hurricanes are beyond anybody’s control. By doing everything you can to prepare for a hurricane and making sure you are not alone, you are doing the best you can.

The Anxiety of Hurricanes

Hurricanes have a tendency to make us feel anxious and scared because we have no control over them. It does not help when the news tells us about how the hurricane will hit our area and seeing businesses being closed down. This can make us go into a frenzy where we overspend on groceries, keep our eyes glued to the news, or keep thinking of all of the what-if scenarios. It hurts us more because our fear of hurricanes is not going to keep them away.  

Preparing for a Hurricane

The best way to decrease your anxiety symptoms before a hurricane comes is to prepare. This will give you more control over the situation and will show that you are making efforts to protect yourself and others. This means making sure that you have enough dry and canned food, batteries, water, candles, etc. It also helps to stay up to date on the weather to see how close the storm is and how serious it is. At the same time, though, do not watch the news too much as it will make you more nervous as it gets more serious. Storms can be unpredictable and have a tendency to change direction. Just check every few hours and focus more on preparations for it. 

It will also help to speak to friends, relatives, a counselor, or anyone else about what you are going through. They may help you by vowing to stay with you through the whole thing and giving you some insight on what they did the last hurricane to make themselves feel safe. The most important thing you can do to prepare is to accept what you cannot control. Excessive worrying about the path of a hurricane or the damage that can be inflicted will not prevent anything. All you can control is how to protect yourself. 

What You Can Do After the Hurricane

You may be having difficulty coping from the aftermath of a hurricane when you see the damage of your house, neighborhood, or if anyone you know got hurt. Instead of thinking hard about your feelings of sorrow, you should do something about them. This can mean donating blood to the people who were seriously hurt during the hurricane. You can make care packages to wish them well or volunteer to help the survivors to get a sense of control back. Try to keep up with your daily routine as normal as possible such as showing up to work, eating balanced meals, taking care of your family, etc. 

How to Manage Trauma After a Hurricane

The trauma you may experience after a hurricane can be increased headaches, muscle tension, nausea, and nightmares. It is first important to tell yourself that you can get through this. That you have dealt with hardships in the past and found ways to heal before. You should also limit your exposure to the news as seeing and listening to the damaged areas or the injuries others have suffered will not help. In order to increase ratings and get more people watching, the media will only show the worst-case scenarios. Things could still be looking better in your neighborhood compared to what is being shown in other areas.

You can also express your feelings to others who have been hit by the hurricane whether it is people you know or from support groups in your area who are suffering like you. It will help you feel less alone and you can get tips from others on how to cope. Commit to engaging in healthy behaviors to cope with your trauma like eating well-balanced meals or meditation before you go to bed to avoid any nightmares from occurring. Avoid drugs and alcohol as they will increase your feelings of depression and cause you to neglect taking care of yourself. 

Getting Help From Prolonged Feelings

Having these anxiety symptoms for several weeks can mean that you are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Speaking to a psychologist will help educate you on how you normally respond to extreme stress and how to move forward. You can trust psychologists with your worries and feel comfortable sharing your stories. Therapists can also use different types of talk therapy to best address your problems and fits your personality and preferences. Some therapists even use hypnosis to help manage pain and mood disorders. 

It is also important to be there for your children as they could be feeling shock and sadness from this hurricane. Encourage your kids to talk about their feelings as a way of telling them that it is okay to talk about it. Let your children know that you are feeling scared too so that they are aware that even adults can experience fear after terrifying moments like this. You should assure yourself and your children that hurricanes do not happen all of the time. You may not have control over a natural disaster, but you do have control in how to better take care of your mental health.

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.

Depression is a Form of Trauma

Depression is a Form of Trauma

Sometimes we think of our trauma as specific incidents from our past such as painful childhood experiences, injuries we’ve sustained, or abusive relationships we’ve survived. We might not think of our depressions as a form of trauma, but they definitely are. Many of us experience recurring depressions, cyclical depression and bipolar depression. Every occurrence of depression, even one isolated episode, can be extremely traumatic and destabilizing.

Depression is often accompanied by intense anxiety and panic. Our fears can cause us considerable pain and distress and are traumatic in and of themselves. When we are consumed with fear, we often adopt a fear-based perspective about everything- our thoughts, who we are as people, the world around us, our future. We can find ourselves afraid to leave our homes, venture out into the world, and be around other people. We isolate ourselves out of fear. We don’t necessarily question our fears and whether or not they are rational because they can be all-consuming, and we come to believe them to be true. This accumulation of fear can be traumatizing. The isolation we feel, the lack of support we so desperately need, and our disconnection from other people can all be traumatizing.

Because we attract things into our lives with the energy we carry, when we are depressed, we are manifesting with an energy of sadness and fear. We therefore find ourselves attracting more thoughts, feelings, relationships and experiences that reflect this painful energy. We often respond to these new manifestations with the same sadness and fear- we panic, we feel like we’re being hit from all sides, like we’re being kicked when we’re down. We feel like we’ll never be able to dig ourselves out of the hole. This build-up of more and more difficult challenges can be traumatizing.

We often come to believe that our addictions and mental health issues are proof that we are inadequate, weak, pathetic, and destined to suffer. We create all kinds of limiting beliefs about ourselves, and our painful thought patterns reflecting these beliefs can be so relentless we feel like we can’t escape the pain of our own minds. Our psyches are in distress. We might panic at the thought of having to live within these minds for the rest of our lives. All of this can be traumatic.

As we embark on our healing journeys, we can choose to feel compassion and understanding for ourselves and for the suffering we’ve experienced, rather than belittling or dismissing just how traumatic our depressions can be.

We offer therapy, mentoring, recovery planning and more at Enlightened Solutions. Call (833) 801-LIVE.

How Trauma Can Affect Our Behavior

How Trauma Can Affect Our Behavior

Trauma is something we are deeply affected by, often long after the initial traumatic experience. We store the emotional memory of our trauma within our subconscious mind, which then directs the majority of our thoughts and actions. Our behavior, therefore, can be greatly impacted by our traumatic experiences.

Many of us develop strong fears, phobias, neuroses, complexes and sensitivities as a result of trauma. When we have been hurt or scared in a certain way, we might then be easily triggered by anything that is similar or reminiscent. We might find ourselves being reactive or agitated. We might be easily frightened, disturbed or angered. We may react to other people with defensiveness. We may behave in erratic or volatile ways. Some of us may escalate and become aggressive, even violent.

The people who come into contact with us might be confused by our behavior. They might be overwhelmed, surprised or alarmed by it. To them our behavior might seem irrational or illogical. We might make them uncomfortable. Our behaviors may be extremely bothersome or even scary to other people, especially if they don’t know where they are coming from, or if they don’t have prior knowledge of our trauma and trauma responses. If we become violent, we often scare the people around us, who may fear for their safety as well as ours.

Trauma can cause us to develop behaviors that we use to distract ourselves from our pain, to try to forget, to numb ourselves. These behaviors often become addictive, and we struggle to heal not only our initial trauma but all the residual trauma incurred by our addictions. We can also develop toxic thought patterns as a result of our trauma, such as limiting beliefs about ourselves. These thought patterns can cause us to behave in all sorts of harmful ways, such as lashing out at other people or isolating ourselves.

When we’ve been traumatized, our behavior can have destructive effects on our relationships. It can cause us to separate and distance ourselves from other people. It can also cause them to want or need to separate themselves from us.

When we are working to heal from our addictions and mental health issues, there are many factors at play, our behaviors being one of them. The more we learn about ourselves and our behaviors, the more we can help ourselves heal.

To help you and your loved ones deal with the many effects of trauma, the community at Enlightened Solutions offers therapy, mentoring, intervention services and more. Call (833) 801-LIVE.

Inclusivity- Broadening our Definition of Trauma and Embracing Others in Pain

Inclusivity- Broadening our Definition of Trauma and Embracing Others in Pain

When discussing trauma and its effects on people, we sometimes tend to associate trauma with the most intensely traumatic incidents, such as being at war, experiencing extreme violence, or having a near-death experience. It would serve us, however, to expand our conceptualization of trauma, to broaden its definition, and to understand that any experience could be traumatic to someone. Limiting our definition of trauma to what we personally perceive to be traumatic, or to what we ourselves have been traumatized by, closes our hearts to others who might be suffering. We block ourselves from consciously empathizing with and understanding someone else’s pain when we decide something is not traumatic simply because we ourselves might not be traumatized by it. The consequence thereafter is often one of judgment; we harshly judge other people’s reactions and behaviors, their experiences and the ways in which they cope.

“That wouldn’t bother me.”

“I would never do that.”

“What’s her problem?”

“I’ve been through way worse.”

“Why won’t she just get over it?”
“It’s really not that serious.”

We sometimes fail to realize that pain is not objective. There are no hierarchies, standards or benchmarks for trauma. Pain really is relative; we perceive our experiences and circumstances relative to who we are, not as isolated incidents in a vacuum. Everything in our lives can factor into our perceptions: our upbringing, our relationships, our mental and emotional states. What might be trivial or benign to some might be catastrophic to others, because we filter all of our experiences through our uniquely personal combinations of fears, sensitivities, triggers and memories. Each of our subconscious minds holds differing beliefs and thought patterns, making the ways in which we process and react to things as vastly different as we are. And yet, one of our commonalities as human beings is that we are susceptible and vulnerable to the things that hurt us.

We have a tendency to be led by our ego minds, detaching us from our hearts. We think in terms of analysis, assessment and judgement, rather than connection, understanding and empathy. If we can open our hearts to the idea that we are all traumatized, each by our own particular set of painful experiences, we might be less likely to downplay other people’s pain, to judge and shun them, or to belittle them for how they are coping. We might open our hearts a little more and instead choose empathy, compassion and inclusivity.

We strengthen in recovery when we have the community, connection and friendship we need. Enlightened Solutions is here for you. Call (833) 801-LIVE.