Individuals with chemical dependency and mental health issues often have an increased likelihood of having experienced some form of trauma in the past.
Psychological issues can often contribute to drug or alcohol abuse. Fortunately, psychological trauma can be treated, and those dealing with an addiction benefit greatly from getting treatment for this alongside their addiction.
Everybody has different experiences and different events in their lives that have impacted the way they think about themselves, the world and how they respond to experiences and events. If those are dysfunctional, they have a greater tendency to turn to drugs and alcohol to suppress negative or intense emotions. This inability to manage those feelings can stem from family-of-origin dysfunction (alcohol abuse, addiction, etc.) to any kind of loss or unresolved grief, divorce, job loss or any type of violence (either witnessed, experienced or even perpetrated).
Your Trauma is Unique
The first thing the professionals treating a patient will want to communicate is that “your trauma is yours.” Whatever you have been through, and your unique response to it, belong to you. A lot of people come in and say, “I wasn’t abused or beaten, and yet I still have this negative self-image.” Trauma doesn’t need to fit a certain criteria or certain degree to qualify as trauma. For some, the pain can stem from something as simple as middle-child syndrome or Dad liking another sibling better. These areas of trauma can be discovered during the evaluation and assessment process or during a self-administered assessment in the course of regular residential treatment.
Working Through Trauma
If a trauma is identified, the individual will then meet with a trauma specialist as part of his or her overall treatment process. An important thing to keep in mind is the fact that recovery is not a one-time fix. It’s a lifelong process. Working through areas of trauma and past hurts that contribute to addiction are all part of that process. Trauma specialists at The Oaks at La Paloma can help discover the core issues that have made an individual vulnerable to addiction in the first place, helping to ensure a greater chance at lasting sobriety.
Our trauma resolution program provides education and the opportunity to participate in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy. EMDR is intended to alleviate human suffering and assist individuals in fulfilling their potential for development while minimizing the risk for harm. EMDR may sound complex, but it simply consists of reprocessing memories from the past that still hold some intense emotion in order for the person affected to experience his or her life fully in the present.
EMDR has been identified as one of the most useful tools for helping individuals heal and move past the blocks created by the experience of traumatic events.
EMDR uses an eight-phase approach to address painful past experiences that continue to be problematic in an individual’s daily life. It includes elements of psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential and body-centered therapies. EMDR focuses on isolating disturbing memories and related events (which may be in the past, present or future) in order to interrupt the distress pattern that they are causing. EMDR tackles the issues that are keeping our minds from healing from former hurts. By using detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians can help patients activate their natural healing processes.
Cognitive Processing Therapy
CPT gently removes the barrier of avoiding anything related to the traumatic event, allowing healthy processing of memories to begin while recognizing that this will lead to recovery. Early in treatment, patients are supported as they become able to identify erroneous beliefs that might be causing setbacks in the recovery process. These thoughts and beliefs might include distorted views of the world and even of themselves as a result of the traumatic event. Formal processing becomes possible once the main obstacles to healing are identified.
Our use of Cognitive Processing Therapy helps patients take control of their own feelings and emotions by processing and resolving strong emotions that might be causing shame, guilt, self-blame and other distressing conditions. This therapy includes written or conversational exercises where the patient learns to take into account the context of the event, why it happened, his or her real role in the event and what is stopping the emotional processing from achieving natural closure.
Education is our first goal for patients and families regarding the characteristics of trauma symptoms and treatment and why this specific approach is useful and necessary.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a clinically-tested form of psychotherapy treatment that focuses on “cognitive defusing.” In other words, this type of therapy helps an addicted person detach from specific thoughts and feelings that enable addiction. ACT helps patients take control of their lives and determine how much importance negative thought patterns and habits will receive. At Foundations Recovery Network, we use this approach to help each patient discover his or her most precious values and act on them.
By learning to notice and accept unpleasant thoughts or feelings without giving them the power to control behaviors and attitudes, a person can once again enjoy a meaningful life.
Instead of changing and eliminating feelings and attitudes as a first step to correct a negative behavior, the ACT approach states that a person can act differently while still having the feeling attached to the behavior. In therapy sessions, patients learn that a change of attitude or emotion can be the result of first changing a behavior. This way, a person can start to take practical steps that will, in time, help to control those feelings. In this matter, acceptance plays the most important role. By recognizing that feelings are a natural part of human nature and accepting that they are a regular consequence of the circumstances gives patients a sense of freedom. Instead of fighting emotions, patients learn from ACT to accept them and move forward.
Heal from Trauma
If you have any questions about our trauma resolution therapies or need help, please contact our admissions center. Admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day at 877-345-1887.