How Trauma Relates to Addiction Treatment and Recovery

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How Trauma Relates to Addiction Treatment and Recovery

PTSD Mental health concept. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The depressed woman sitting alone on the floor in the dark room background. Film look.

The majority of Americans will experience some form of trauma in their lifetime. It is an experience that someone can go through, regardless of their age or circumstances. Trauma can manifest as a single event or as a series of events that cause emotional, mental, or physical distress. Trauma can also occur when an incident happens where someone feels that they are in danger or that their life has been threatened.

If trauma is not properly treated, individuals suffering from it can start to feel isolated, alone, and unsafe. Untreated trauma can cause individuals to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse. Drugs such as crystal methamphetamine and cocaine are stimulants that greatly increase the amount of dopamine the brain processes. This results in a sense of feeling good, but it can also mask the true emotions a person is feeling. In many cases, these emotions are negative, providing an example of how trauma can lead to addiction.

Some people who suffer from the long-term mental and emotional effects of trauma see it develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD. However, according to the National Center for PTSD, “About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%).”

Learn more about PTSD and PTSD treatment here.

Types of Trauma

There are three main classifications of trauma:

#1. Acute: Trauma resulting from a single event. Some people experience these types of trauma with no lasting effects, while others may take some time to process the event. Types of acute trauma include car accidents, physical altercations, and serious injury.

#2. Chronic: Trauma that is repeated over a period of time. The period of time can be short, such as a few days, or longer, such as a few years. These events are likely to occur with someone you know or that is close to you through domestic violence, partner abuse, and bullying. However, it can also occur from strangers through cyberbullying or stalking.

#3. Complex: This is the most severe category of trauma. It involves exposure to multiple traumatic events that are often invasive in nature, such as child abuse, neglect, or sex trafficking. Complex trauma can cause individuals to feel unsafe or distressed.

Other common examples of trauma that fall into these categories include:

  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Emotional or verbal abuse
  • Parental neglect
  • Terminal illness
  • Death of a loved one
  • Natural disasters

Handling Traumatic Stress

It is natural to feel afraid and anxious or have trouble sleeping after experiencing a traumatic event. Sometimes these feelings go away quickly, but they can also last for a longer period of time.

If you are currently experiencing traumatic stress, here are a few tips that can help you recover:

  • Talk to Others: Lean on your friends and family during this time. It is important that your support community knows that you have experienced a traumatic event and understands how you are coping. Don’t isolate yourself from others, as this can lead to increased depression and anxiety.
  • Practice Self-Care: Everyone handles trauma differently, but you can take steps to help improve your mental and emotional well-being. Make sure to drink enough water and try to get a proper amount of sleep. Try and participate in activities you enjoy, such as working out or other outdoor activities. Find ways to be kind and patient with yourself.
  • Keep Your Routine: Continue to keep your normal daily routine, even if you do not feel up to it. Having some sense of normalcy that you can control may help you feel a level of comfort.
  • Talk to a Professional: If symptoms persist for a long period of time, or you notice that you are not improving on your own, please seek professional help.

There is no right or wrong way to process trauma. Give yourself time to heal or grieve from the trauma.

What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

If you are suffering from trauma or a substance use disorder, or you are going through trauma while in recovery, participating in a treatment program that offers trauma-informed care can greatly benefit you on your road to recovery.

Trauma-informed care is a framework of treatment that recognizes the impact of trauma on an individual’s life. The organization or treatment center then develops individualized plans for their client with their traumas in mind.

At The Kimberly Center, offering trauma-informed care is one of our priorities. We recognize that problem behaviors often began as understandable coping skills from traumatic events. Our program focuses on creating a forgiving and nurturing environment in which clients learn healthy coping skills and regain control of their lives.

Trauma is something that the majority of Americans experience. It is an occurrence that many will go through at least once in their lives. Three distinct categories of trauma can be used to summarize the majority of traumatic events: acute, chronic, and complex. Trauma that remains untreated or unresolved can lead to unhealthy coping strategies, which can lead to substance abuse. However, not all trauma will lead to an addiction. If you are experiencing traumatic stress, there are tips that may help with your recovery. These tips include talking to others, practicing self-care, keeping a normal routine, and talking to a professional if symptoms do not improve. If you need help with handling traumatic stress, seeking a treatment program that offers trauma-informed care is essential. At The Kimberly Center, we specialize in developing trauma-informed care treatment plans that lead our clients to healthier lives. To learn more, please give us a call today at (855) 452-3683.

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