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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.

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