Nearly 70% of adults experience trauma at some point in their life. An estimated 20% of those who experience a traumatic event will develop trauma-related mental health issues, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The trauma-related emotional disturbances that develop after traumatic events such as sexual assault, physical violence, combat, or any other traumatic event, can become debilitating. Many of those affected by trauma attempt to self-medicate to overcome the associated negative feelings such as anger, stress, and powerlessness. Trauma left untreated can trigger substance abuse issues.
What Is Trauma
Trauma is a mental and emotional disturbance that develops in response to a traumatic life event or ongoing exposure to traumatic situations. People who have difficulty coping after the danger of a situation has passed are said to be experiencing a traumatic response. Individuals may experience denial or shock after the event and can have continuing long-term issues, such as flashbacks, nausea, headaches, and increased anxiety. They may suffer from erratic emotions that can strain relationships. While some people can recover after traumatic events, for many people, the trauma can be consuming and lead to depression, anxiety, trauma-related shame issues, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, and other mental health issues. Many people develop symptoms of acute distress disorder or PTSD.
Posttraumatic stress disorder develops in some individuals after traumatic situations, such as combat, sexual assault, or natural catastrophes. For people with PTSD, the event that caused the trauma impacts their daily lives long after the event. They may experience flashbacks, continual nightmares, and anxiety at such high levels that they cannot function in society. Trauma responses can become extremely debilitating, resulting in disruptions to relationships, self-esteem issues, physical health problems, and self-medicating behaviors.
Trauma is a common precursor to substance abuse and addiction. Because of this, Illuminate Recovery includes trauma therapy in our rehab programs. This allows patients to address any history of trauma and focus on addressing their responses to the trauma more healthily as part of their recovery process.
Not all individuals with a history of trauma will identify as the victims or witnesses of traumatic events when they enter a recovery program. This can happen for several reasons. Sometimes, patients have repressed memories of trauma. In other cases, patients think the behavior was normal, or they may be too embarrassed to discuss it.
What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy
At Illuminate Recovery, individuals see many benefits to their recovery process through group therapy. Some of the most influential effects they find include:
Trauma-Informed Therapy in Addiction Treatment at Illuminate
Trauma-informed therapy can be especially helpful when patients have repressed traumatic experiences in the past. This is particularly true among those who were very young when the trauma occurred. Reconstructing the scene and asking specific questions about the experience might bring it to memory. This isn’t meant to be hurtful, but to lead to a resolution. However, the process can be difficult for some.
The source of a traumatic event is nearly always external, yet individuals will often internalize the blame for the trauma and experience lifelong issues of shame and guilt. Trauma therapy can alleviate this inaccurate sense of responsibility to allow healing. This can reduce mental health issues that are often a factor in the addiction recovery process.
Therapy can also give patients the strength to forgive others, which is no easy feat. Sometimes violence or trauma in the past has to be forgiven in order for patients to move on. Other times, patients need to accept the reality of the situation without emotional reaction. This can help with the healing process.
What to Expect in Trauma Therapy
Trauma and PTSD therapy can be an outlet for those who haven’t verbalized their trauma in the past. It’s unsettling to discuss trauma for most individuals. However, it’s a necessary step for recovery in many cases. Therapy provides individuals in recovery with a safe environment to explore past traumatic experiences and to re-envision their role in the situation. This can provide the necessary healing to aid the recovery process.
Patients might talk about a traumatic experience such as:
● Witnessing a violent crime
● Being physically attacked
● Being a victim of sexual abuse or assault
● Military action
● First Responders
● Being involved in a natural disaster such as a flood, tornado, fire, or earthquake
Why Trauma Therapy Is a Valuable Part of a Recovery Plan
Trauma is a widespread and deep-rooted mental health issue that coexists with many other issues that individuals in recovery need to overcome. It is imperative to address the ways trauma informs the physical and emotional lives of those in a recovery program. Trauma-informed care is imperative if you wish to have the best outcome for the recovery process.
Trauma and traumatic response symptoms are among the most common co-occurring disorders and the most prevalent issues for patients in recovery programs. Individuals who have PTSD are also in treatment for substance abuse disorders at rates five times higher than the rest of the population. This means that those who work in substance use disorder treatment facilities are more likely to see this co-occurring mental health issue than any other mental health diagnosis.
Trauma-informed care is a new and valuable approach to trauma treatment that provides emotional, psychological, and additional physical safety guidelines for patients and anyone else involved in the trauma recovery process, including providers and families. This allows survivors more control over their treatment and reduces the risk of retraumatizing them. Trauma-focused therapy realizes that trauma is a widespread issue that impacts individuals in all walks of life and is often a component in many recovery-based programs. As part of trauma-informed therapy, staff members are highly trained to recognize and be aware of signs and symptoms of trauma in all individuals who are a part of the therapy process. All procedures and policies are integrated to prioritize, not retraumatize, individuals.
Trauma-focused therapy can help individuals in recovery learn what normal responses to trauma look like and then recognize how their own emotional responses differ and how they have impacted their past and current situations. Therapy can also help individuals realize that they are not alone in their struggles. Trauma therapy is a highly individualized approach that can provide the best chances of recovery.
By focusing on the root of many substance use disorders, trauma therapy can provide individuals with a greater understanding of the impact that this mental health issue has on their behavioral responses. It can also provide them with tools that can support their recovery process. When you have co-occurring disorders, it is necessary to treat them both if you wish to recover fully. Not addressing trauma through therapy is only looking at part of the picture.
While trauma therapy is a key part of recovery for many patients, it’s not the only element. For the best chance at successful recovery from addiction, Illuminate Recovery offers a range of therapy methods. Combining trauma-informed therapy with group therapy, education, awareness, and relapse prevention, it can help patients regain a zest for the life and the tools to fight against addiction.