Trauma Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment

trauma therapy in substance abuse treatment

Trauma Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment

Addiction impacts every aspect of a person’s life and can lead to long-lasting, sometimes devastating consequences to their mental and physical health. Each person has their own journey with addiction. Some factors can contribute to someone being more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol, but there is no way to accurately predict who will and will not develop an addiction.

While it is impossible to determine who will become addicted or how long it might take for the addiction to take hold, one risk factor can significantly increase the chance that someone will develop an addiction: trauma.

Trauma is a psychological response to a period of intense stress. Trauma can happen after any event that someone perceives to be highly stressful or life-threatening. Some common traumatic events include physical or emotional abuse, surviving an accident or life-threatening injury, living through war or natural disaster, or the loss of a loved one. Trauma can show up immediately after the event or years afterward. It can come and go, and its symptoms can change or fluctuate in intensity. Trauma is a complex issue and can be difficult to identify and treat in some cases.

Some people who have experienced trauma turn to drugs or alcohol to help them numb the pain or discomfort they experience. This is called “self-medicating”. Using drugs and alcohol to manage the symptoms of trauma is not effective and can lead to addiction. Because of the close link between trauma and addiction, many addiction treatment programs incorporate trauma therapy into their substance abuse treatment plans. Offering trauma-informed care is the only way to effectively treat addiction and heal trauma simultaneously.

What is Trauma Therapy?

Trauma can occur from any stressful event. People may not be able to cope with the emotions that they have after an event that made them feel unsafe, anxious, or alone. The effects of trauma can be both physical and emotional, and people may find that they are unable to function in their daily lives because of their symptoms of trauma.

Trauma therapy is a therapeutic approach that helps people identify the source of their trauma and to examine its impact on their emotional and physical health. During trauma therapy in substance abuse treatment, people learn the skills they need to manage their emotions in healthy ways. They learn how to identify the source of their trauma and develop skills that allow them to function in their daily lives.

What Happens During Trauma-Informed Care?

In regular medical and treatment settings, providers may approach care and treatment with the intent of finding out what is “wrong” with people. Trauma-informed care is different. Instead of asking what is “wrong”, providers approach patients and clients with the intent to understand what has happened to them. This approach allows people to receive better care, participate more fully in their treatment programs, and have better outcomes. In an addiction treatment setting, this means that staff is trained in trauma care and uses specific therapeutic techniques that allow people to work through their trauma in the course of their treatment programs.

Generally, the goals of trauma-informed care include:[1]

  • Recognizing the impact of trauma in our society and identifying new ways to recover
  • Recognizing the signs of trauma in patients and families
  • Avoiding retraumatization
  • Using knowledge about trauma to create better policies and practices

Trauma-informed care is important in all settings where people are vulnerable or at-risk and can be effectively incorporated into addiction treatment programs.

Why is Trauma Therapy Used in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs?

Addiction carries a certain stigma in our culture, and people who live with addiction are sometimes not given the care they need to overcome their addiction. Trauma therapy is an important part of addiction treatment programs because so many people with addiction have a history of trauma. To fully heal from both the addiction and their trauma, they need programs that address both issues.

Treating addiction without addressing trauma is not enough to help people have a lifelong recovery. If someone receives treatment for their addiction but still experiences the symptoms of trauma, they are likely to relapse. If they learn the skills they need to manage the symptoms of their trauma and treat their addiction at the same time, they are more likely to have a lifelong recovery.

Approximately half of the individuals who seek treatment for substance use disorder meet the criteria for PTSD or trauma.[2]

Find Substance Abuse Treatment Offering Trauma Therapy Today

If you or someone you love needs life-changing addiction treatment, please reach out to the Florida Recovery Group. We offer a range of programs designed to help people learn the skills they need to live a fulfilling, healthy life without using drugs or alcohol. We understand how trauma impacts people’s lives and strive to offer the most comprehensive, trauma-informed care available. Learn more about our trauma track today.

Don’t wait another moment to start the addiction treatment you need. Call today to speak with one of our knowledgeable admissions counselors.


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