The odd paradox that comes with trauma is that it has the power to break us down, and the power to rebuild us into something much stronger than ever before if we allow it to. Previous studies have shown that 61% of men and 51% of women have had a traumatic event occur at least once in their lifetime. The aftermath of trauma leaves many with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a disorder which can bring about debilitating symptoms like anxiety, depression, paranoia, insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares and more.
For many people, even adverse childhood experiences can leave physical, psychological and spiritual wounds that can take years to recover from. Recovery from addiction is already a vulnerable time period – and it requires a lot of tools, resources and support to heal from traumatic incidents, too.
Alcohol and other drugs are often used by people as a solution to deal with trauma and whatever it is they’re going through in their lives. Self-medicating may provide temporary relief but it also can leave an individual vulnerable to addiction. This is what makes social support so important – if social support is provided before and after traumatic events, a person is less likely to feel isolated. For those who don’t have proper support, this is when substance abuse can come into play – because a person is trying to find a way to lessen the intensity of emotions they’re experiencing. In recovery, healing can take place by doing the exact opposite: by reaching out to people, building connections and building their own sense of community. At The Kimberly Center, individuals can find support not only through their healthcare team and through peers in their group therapy sessions, but also through 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
Previous studies have examined the role of social support in the healing of trauma, and they found that peer support groups – such as those found in 12-Step programs – can greatly strengthen a person’s commitment and engagement in their treatment. Individuals find healing through this modality because they discover that other people have gone through similar experiences and therefore have similar emotions afterwards, because they’re able to rely on the structure of the addiction recovery treatment program to help them navigate sobriety and their overall recovery journey, and because they find that they’re able to develop empathy for others’ hardships, which gives them insight into further life lessons and experiences.
One of the most common feelings that trauma brings to those struggling with PTSD is that a person is alone, and that nobody will understand. Quite the opposite is true – there are many people who’ve gone through traumatic events, and there are many people who want to see a person heal from trauma and overcome the pain that is rooted deep inside.
Self-care has been a buzzword lately, but for good reason. Self-care involves the actions and attitudes that contribute to a person’s maintenance of their well-being and personal health, which ultimately helps them to become more developed as a human being. Trauma can lead to my psychological and emotional wounds, such as feeling “numb”, being irritable or sad, experiencing an increased note of anxiety, blaming oneself for being able to escape a tragedy if others weren’t able to, re-experiencing the traumatic event through daydreams, nightmares or flashbacks, becoming isolated from others and more. Cognitively, a person may find that it’s harder for them to concentrate, and therefore may experience greater confusion because of the “fog” from the aftermath of trauma. Headaches, fatigue, becoming easily startled and more can take place, which also makes it harder to recover from if help isn’t sought. Behaviorally, a person who has experienced a traumatic event may become hyperactive or may withdraw from others; insomnia may take place, and the person may even feel a strong need to talk about what happened to them.
When a flood of PTSD symptoms come rushing through, it’s often hard to implement self-care. In recovery, however, this is a person’s chance to restore their mental, physical and spiritual health; self-care activities, such as practicing sleep hygiene, eating nutritious meals, drinking plenty of water and more can have a truly profound impact on the outlook of someone’s recovery, as it’s all interconnected.
Treatment provides a plethora of opportunities to not only connect with others, but to develop some meaningful tools for gaining insight on what’s happened in the past. Symptoms of PTSD occur unexpectedly for many people, and, without warning, a person may easily feel taken over. Psychological approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) set the foundation for a person to be able to work through negative thoughts and gain a greater perspective on life’s circumstances.
Mental health and substance use disorders often co-occur and must be treated simultaneously for the best chance of long-term success in addiction recovery. The Kimberly Center understands that many people who are in recovery have experienced trauma during their lifetime. We want to help you heal not only from addiction, but also from trauma. We offer many different therapy modalities, including EMDR, to help you process trauma during your treatment. Call us today at 855-4-KCENTER (855-452-3683) to learn how we can help you on the road to a full recovery – mind, body, and spirit.