Addiction doesn’t exist in a vacuum or arise without cause. Often, addiction develops because people turn to drugs or alcohol to manage discomfort or distress, which is due to the ongoing effects of trauma. Quality addiction treatment providers recognize these effects and make every effort to ensure that you’ll feel safe and secure during treatment.
A traumatic experience is when you experience an intense stress reaction because your physical or emotional safety has been threatened. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that “trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual. This can be something physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning.” The nature of the actual experience matters less than your reaction to it.
Some patients seeking help for addiction will need to address their traumatic experiences directly, through specific treatment programs. Others will need to address the addiction dynamic first, in a safe and secure environment, while learning to manage the symptoms caused by their trauma history. When an addiction treatment center looks at addiction through a holistic lens and understands that trauma may affect how services are interpreted, the program is considered trauma-informed.
Traumatic events change us in significant ways, both physically and psychologically. If someone’s history isn’t acknowledged and respected, there’s a risk of triggering trauma responses during addiction treatment. In a trauma-informed addiction treatment center, trained staff members keep you safe, reduce the risk you’ll feel re-traumatized in any way, and empower you.
Different people will need different things in order to feel safe. A trauma-informed treatment center will listen to individual patients and respond to their specific needs. Women with substance use disorders tend to have very high rates of traumatic experiences in their past.
One study found that 74% had experienced sexual abuse, 72% reported emotional abuse, and 52% had a history of being abused physically. For patients with a history of sexual abuse, the gender of providers and fellow group members may need to be considered for patients to feel secure.
Traumatic experiences can leave people feeling powerless. This can result in fear of vulnerability or a fear of being controlled. It can also result in attempts to control as much of life as possible. In fact, drug and alcohol use is often an attempt to use external substances to control and manage inner feelings.
Trauma-informed addiction treatment recognizes the importance of power dynamics and how they’re communicated and experienced. It offers patients choices. Trauma-informed treatment will help you feel empowered and not coerced.
Trauma may affect not only your sense of safety and agency, but also your sense of identity and worth. Trauma-informed treatment providers use a strengths-based clinical approach to help you recognize your current skill sets and build on them. They respect their patients and offer help in a spirit of teamwork, mutuality, and acceptance.
Specific approaches to addressing trauma symptoms will vary but may include a focus on emotional regulation, stress management, cognitive restructuring, and education on trauma’s impacts. Mindfulness and meditation may be incorporated, and other techniques, such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation, may help turn down the overactive stress response.
The Right Step Hill Country offers trauma-informed addiction treatment that helps clients get to the root of their addiction and heal in a safe, supportive environment. There is hope. Let us help you find the path back to yourself. Call us today at 844.675.1628.