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.
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.
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 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.
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