Sooner or later, we all realize that life can be challenging. The ups and downs and “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” are part of the human condition. Learning to cope with this reality is part of life. However, normal stressors are different from what is now recognized as trauma.
Trauma can be described as any situation where a person fears for their safety, experiences intense pain or witnesses a tragic event. People have varying levels of resiliency, so reactions to traumatic experiences depend on the person and how they handle stressful events.
Trauma survivors can suffer long-term issues if their pain is not resolved. For example, they may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially if the trauma is repeated or ongoing. It’s common for people with PTSD to have nightmares, flashbacks, sleep disturbances and anxiety. To cope with these emotions, some people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, putting them at risk for dependency.
The Trauma-Addiction Connection
Research shows that trauma and addiction are connected. One of the largest studies of its kind, the Kaiser Permanente’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, found that a child who experiences four or more traumatic events in their lifetime is five times more likely to abuse alcohol and up to 46 percent more likely to be an injection drug user compared to the general population.
The reasons for the trauma-addiction link are complex. We do know that people who experience trauma often suffer negative side effects and use drugs and alcohol to cope. Unfortunately, addiction becomes another problem in their life. Lacking the coping skills to deal with the trauma and the addiction, people are forced into a downward spiral.
How Trauma Affects the Recovery Process
Not everyone who has unresolved trauma is aware of it. Some trauma victims suppress or ignore traumatic experiences. Others have abused drugs and alcohol for so long, the only problem appears to be the substance abuse. Unfortunately, if the underlying trauma isn’t dealt with, it will make the recovery journey much more complicated. People with unresolved trauma often find it difficult to get and stay sober.
Fortunately, it is possible to recover from both addiction and past trauma. The key is to choose a recovery center that specializes in dual diagnosis, a condition that includes mental illness and substance abuse occurring at the same time. These treatment centers know how to work with this sensitive population so they can recover from addiction while processing unresolved trauma.
Steps to Recovering from a Dual Diagnosis
By choosing a dual diagnosis drug rehab in Phoenix, both the trauma and the substance abuse can be addressed. Here is what to expect from the recovery journey.
- Detox. It’s almost impossible to address underlying trauma when under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This is why the first goal is to get sober through a medically supervised detox program. Some treatment centers offer detox services while others focus on counseling services.
- Individual and group counseling. Once the person is stronger and more clear-minded, they can begin working with a therapist. An intensive outpatient or regular outpatient program is a great option, as it provides support and guidance while granting the flexibility to work, go to school and care for family.
- Trauma-focused therapies. The hope is that through therapy, the client will recognize past trauma in their life. They can then face this trauma and process it in a healthy manner. To help, there are a number of trauma-focused therapies available such as:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Naturopathic remedies
- Tai chi
- Music therapy
- Art therapy
- Aftercare. Before a client leaves outpatient treatment, they are given an aftercare plan. These plans provide ongoing support for the trauma and the addiction. Unlike inpatient treatment, outpatient care allows clients to return home at the end of the day, so they are generally more prepared for this stage in their journey.
Start Your Recovery Journey Today
If you or a loved one is dealing with trauma as a root of addiction, it is possible to find healing. It can feel overwhelming to face two things at once, but this is the key to a full recovery. If you only address the substance abuse, the underlying trauma will return and put you at risk for relapse. Not only will treating both problems make it easier to stay sober, but also you can alleviate symptoms like anxiety, physical pain, depression and self-harming impulses.
Continuum Recovery Center is a boutique outpatient treatment center located in North Phoenix. We offer holistic, individualized healing that addresses all aspects of addiction (body, mind, and spirit). This includes attention to possible trauma or other negative past experiences. Our clients may come from different backgrounds, but our mission is to see them transition back into a sober life of joy, impact, and productivity.
To start your recovery journey, contact Continuum Recovery Center today.