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Trauma’s Relationship with Addiction

Dual Diagnosis: Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Trauma, which is defined as any life event that creates lasting psychological harm in an individual, can create additional barriers to success in recovery.  The lasting harm can manifest in certain emotional experiences, including anxiety, difficulty focusing and challenges engaging in social situations.  These experiences are all rooted in present-day effects lasting from the past incident.  The effects of trauma can intersect with addiction recovery as these emotional experiences may trigger the desire to use to cope with the effects of trauma with more frequency that an individual who is not experiencing trauma.  

The originating experience of trauma can be vastly different for different individuals.  The concept to describe this is resiliency.  Resiliency can be hard to accept because individuals sharing similar life experiences may have severely different capacities to focus with those experiences.  There may be some individuals who experience extreme violence, like sexual assault or physical violence, and have little or no lasting trauma response to those experiences. Other individuals may have a lasting traumatic response to an event that may seem to most people to be a minimal disappointment, like being minorly ignored by a parent.  It is important to honor the origins of trauma, regardless of how severe or insignificant that may seem.  This will ensure that all people who need healing will open themselves to it.  

Without the proper acknowledgment of trauma’s influence on the recovery process, some people may encounter relapses in addiction that may not otherwise occur.  Due to most addicts’ orientation to themselves as a victim in life, it can be difficult to discern without professional interventions, when trauma support is needed with an addict.  It is important to err on the side of caution when pursuing trauma healing because to do otherwise may put the addict in danger of relapse.  Ultimately, this may put the addict’s life in danger.  

However, this must be tempered with awareness of an addict’s predisposition to keeping themselves separate from connected relationships.  Trauma can sometimes be engaged to hang on to the experience of being separate by being an addict ‘and-a’.  The story of trauma can be leveraged to maintain walls with relationship to other people in recovery and these relationship are crucial to true healing.

Enlightened Recovery Solutions offers a harmonious approach to holistic treatment, bringing together the best of evidence-based, alternative, and 12-step therapies. Call us today for information on our transformation programs of treatment for addiction and alcoholism: 833-801-5483.