Addressing Trauma in Addiction Recovery: How Therapy Can Help Heal Past Wounds

Everyone that is experiencing addiction has experienced trauma in some form. Many times we turn to drugs and alcohol to try to cover up our feelings of hurt, shame, and resentment. However, there is hope. We work with clients to ensure they process their past traumas and come to a healing point. We believe that trauma is the root cause of many addictions. Because of this, you must take your time in addiction recovery to process those traumas. The traumatic events must be processed in a healthy manner to improve the chances of the long-term success of our patients. (1).

Trauma is a common life experience for a lot of people. People who have experienced chronic or multiple traumas are more likely to show severe symptoms and consequences, such as health problems, mental illnesses, and substance abuse. At the same time, many people exposed to trauma show few or no lingering symptoms. As a result, trauma can significantly alter a person’s involvement in crucial areas of life and treatment. (1)

What is Trauma Therapy?

Trauma therapy is a whole host of different things with different approaches. We have found that different people find help in various forms. This means that we tailor your trauma therapy to your specific issues. The goal of trauma therapy, no matter what the type, is to help a person process what has happened to them so that they can better move on with life. The most common types of trauma therapy are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Narrative Exposure Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Trauma Therapy
  • More

Our Brains Process Trauma Differently

Our brains, during a traumatic moment, are put into survival mode. This mode doesn’t allow our brains to function as they would normally. This means that the emotional part of your brain didn’t get the proper communication. Basically, it doesn’t feel like the trauma is over, even years later.  

Furthermore, traumatic experiences for one person affect another person differently. This is due to how the brain processes a person’s genetic makeup and character. What might severely affect someone might not affect another person similarly. Never think that your traumatic event isn’t important. It is important if it is changing the way you feel about yourself and life.  

That’s why each of our trauma therapy approaches is designed with you in mind. We work with you individually to help you process your trauma and become a better part of your life. 

Data from the most recent National Survey of Adolescents and other studies indicate that one in four children and adolescents in the United States experiences at least one potentially traumatic event before the age of 16, and more that 13% of 17-year-olds—one in eight—have experienced posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives.

Why Does Trauma Affect a Person?

When we are affected by trauma, our bodies release certain hormones to ensure our brains remain safe. This can have a profound effect on how we respond to danger. We have no control over this, and how you react to trauma could be different from someone else’s. Furthermore, each traumatic experience could elicit a different response. There are five different yet, prevalent types of traumatic responses, these are:

Fawn or Friend: During this stage, you try to be friends with the person who caused you harm. You do this because you feel if they would just care, they would quit harming you. However, that’s typically not the case. This is considered a survival mechanism.

Freeze: You freeze, go still, don’t move, and don’t know what to do next. It could also be called playing dead and is a common response for many things. Even if you freeze, that doesn’t mean that you were consenting to the trauma. Many people struggle with this one, as they feel like they just sat there and did nothing. This can also be an issue if you witnessed someone else’s trauma and did nothing. The guilt can be too much to bare. 

Flop: This is a process where your body shut’s down to avoid the pain that is being inflicted upon you. Your muscles and body go limp, again, a survival response that you have no control over.

Flight: Running, hiding, and putting distance between you and the danger.

Fight: Actually fighting your accuser or fighting back. (2)

Triggers from Memories

What we feel and sense at the time of a traumatic event is often what our brain uses to create a memory of the event. As a result, even if we are in no immediate danger, our brain may still activate the fawn, freeze, flop, flight, or fight response if it detects cues (such as sound, smell, or color) that remind it of the traumatic event. This is what we call “triggered,” and it is a common reaction for survivors of violence and abuse.

These triggers can deeply affect a person. They are often frustrated at how they responded to the event, and triggers remind the person repeatedly. When trauma happens, the brain doesn’t process things as it should. You cannot control your response, as it is a survival instinct. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person if you just “sat there” while something terrible was happening to another person.  

We feel that it is important that patients understand and learn to forgive themselves when it comes to their trauma responses. Furthermore, we help you process the trauma in a manner that will allow the brain to be less vulnerable to triggers. Trauma therapy helps heal the person, giving them a better chance at recovery.

Managing Trauma and How it Affects Recovery.

Studies have shown that one in four children experienced some traumatic event before they turned 16 in the US. That’s a massive number, but not all those that experience trauma will become addicts. However, most addicts were traumatized.   Furthermore, most have experienced PTSD to some degree. (3)

While this is alarming, it shows that you are not alone. Furthermore, traumatic events don’t have to be rape or a beating. It could be neglect as a child or being left alone. It could be the feeling of not being cared about by your caregivers or others that were to protect you when you were a child. Often times people say to themselves, “it wasn’t that bad.” But, it caused deeply rooted pain that they tried to cover up with substance abuse.

This is why it is so important during your recovery you seek out the help you need for the traumatic events in your life. We believe the path to long-term success is healing your traumatic wounds. Through the different therapies, you will find relief from those past wounds. This will allow your brain to settle and not be triggered as often or not at all. This will help you recover from those past demons and walk into your new life substance-free.

For further information regarding trauma therapy and how it can help heal past wounds, contact Life Line Services. We would be happy to discuss this further.

Resources Used:

Post Tags :

About Life Line Services