While there are a number of factors that can lead to addiction, those with a history of trauma are often more likely to struggle with addiction. Whether patients are dealing with addiction to drugs or to alcohol, there may be long-term or incidental trauma in their past. In order to effectively treat these addictions, trauma-informed therapy can and should be a part of the recovery process.
Trauma can be defined as an event, memory, experience or environment that leaves individuals with an overwhelming sense of loss, pain or unhappiness. Trauma can happen once, leaving marks for decades to come, or it can be a repetitive trauma that happens daily for years. Trauma might be impersonal, which means that individuals were part of a bigger event like a flood or a fire, but it can also be a deeply personal trauma.
Trauma may also manifest itself in a disorder, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD highlights that trauma experienced in the past can still have a huge impact on daily life years later. Many individuals who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction can trace the beginnings of abuse back to feelings related to trauma. Trauma may cause all of the following emotions, each of which can lead to substance abuse:
- Isolation or loneliness
Understanding Trauma-Informed Therapy
Since trauma can clearly play a role in the formation of addiction, a comprehensive rehabilitation plan should address any underlying trauma. Methods like family therapy and 12-step participation may be effective, but trauma-informed therapy is the most effective choice for those with a history of trauma.
Trauma-informed therapy is a method of treatment that focuses on trauma in a very comprehensive fashion. Some treatment methods only focus on the physical aspects of recovery, but a trauma-based addiction goes well beyond cravings and physical withdrawal symptoms.
Through trauma-informed therapy, patients will have the opportunity to talk through the traumatic events in their past. They can learn to address their underlying issues and learn how to deal with the emotions that are a result of trauma. A woman who uses drugs out of shame, or a father who drinks in order to deal with anger and sorrow over the death of a child, can learn coping mechanisms to handle their ongoing reactions to trauma in a healthy way.
Ultimately, trauma-informed therapy doesn’t believe that addiction can be treated in a vacuum. Rehabilitation is not a one-size-fits-all option. In fact, recovery may need to be as specific as the trauma that caused it.
Benefits of Focusing on Trauma in Treatment
Trauma-informed therapy offers a number of advantages over other means of treatment. First and foremost, it enables patients to discuss their past experiences and come to terms with the underlying issues, traumatic events or emotions that might have played a role in the beginnings of an addiction.
In addition, therapy that focuses on treatment looks past the physical factors and gets to the heart of why a person might relapse. Undoubtedly, someone addicted to drugs or alcohol may encounter temptations after rehab has ended. However, those desires may stem from issues like shame, anger or depression, just as much as they might stem from physical cravings or chemical imbalances in the brain.
As you seek the right treatment methods for your addiction, look specifically for a facility that offers trauma-informed therapy. At Recovery in Motion, located in Tucson, Arizona, patients have access to group, trauma-based and individual therapy over the course of a 90-day program. Call today at 866-849-0901 to learn more and to find out how you can start addressing past trauma and conquering addiction for a better, healthier and happier life.