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Trauma and Addiction

Trauma and Addiction Recovery

Over the course of the past several decades, addiction treatment has put a special emphasis on the role of past traumatic experience in the psychological fitness and behavioral patterns of individuals suffering from substance dependency. It is estimated that somewhere around 85% of all individuals seeking treatment for addiction have suffered some form of sexual, physical, or emotional trauma in their lifetimes. It has also been found that individuals who were sexually abused at some point in their lifetimes are 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs than those who were not.
Because trauma is such a prevalent underlying issue among men and women in inpatient treatment, much time is spent addressing and therapeutically treating individual cases of past traumatic experience.

Men who have undergone trauma (especially sexual trauma), have essentially been societally conditioned to keep the associated pain and disturbance to themselves. It has been repeatedly proven that men are far more likely to open up about distressing experiences when there are no females present – that they feel significantly safer discussing such personal and potentially shame-evoking experiences surrounded exclusively by members of the same sex. The same goes for women – the vast majority of women in inpatient addiction treatment have experienced some level of sexual trauma over the course of their lifetimes. It has been demonstrated time and time again that women feel significantly safer opening up about such problems to other women – women who can typically relate on a deeply personal level.

Comprehensive addiction treatment is extremely beneficial when it comes to opening up about past trauma, and working through trauma therapeutically and candidly in group settings.

Addiction is not a choice!

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Trauma Takes a Serious Matter Overseen

In many cases, the internalization of past traumatic experience leads to co-occurring disorders. This means that in addition to substance dependency, men and women who have undergone significant emotional, sexual, or physical distress tend to adopt additional behavioral disorders. The behavioral disorders have a tendency to reveal themselves in a variety of ways.

These disorders can range from eating disorders (more common in women but also sometimes affecting men), compulsive disorders (such as compulsive gambling or shopping), to dual
diagnosis substance dependency disorders (primary heroin abuse with alcoholic tendencies, for example). Because eating disorders are more common amongst women, comprehensive inpatient treatment facilities, like ours, will focus on improving negative self-image, nutrition and healthy eating patterns, and uncovering underlying causes of such disorders and treating them accordingly.

Many men who have undergone past traumatic experiences will struggle with anger issues as a direct result, on the other hand. In our male-specific facility we have trained and licensed specialists on staff who have extensive experience working with men who struggle with anger and substance dependency simultaneously. Because of the fact that internalized trauma manifests itself differently in men and women, comprehensive treatment has proven extremely beneficial in the simultaneous treatment of trauma and substance dependency.

Trauma Facts

Trauma manifests itself in both physical and emotional ways. Many times, trauma sufferers will turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with symptoms of PTSD caused by significantly damaging experiences that occurred during childhood or adolescence.
Some emotional symptoms of trauma are as follows:

  • Feelings of Guilt & Shame
  • Intense & Inexplicable Mood Swings
  • Feeling Disconnected from Others & From Emotions
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Anxiety & Fear
  • Withdrawal from Social Aspects of Life
  • Denial, Disbelief & Inability to Process Reality
  • Feelings of Depression and Hopelessness

Some physical symptoms of trauma are as follows:

  • Racing Heartbeat
  • Being Frightened or Startled Easily
  • Recurring Nightmares
  • Insomnia

Our Lighthouse Recovery Mission

In many cases, these emotional and physical symptoms will severely disrupt the life of the individual who has undergone significant trauma. As life is continuously disrupted and symptoms prove difficult to overcome (without intensive, professional therapeutic care, the psychological effects of trauma will prove lasting), trauma sufferers will turn to self-medication as a means of symptom reduction. At first, self-medication works – this is how the cycle of substance abuse typically initiates.

Drugs and alcohol numb the pain successfully for a given period of time, working to alleviate any potential physical symptoms while actively anesthetizing painful emotions. However, the issues are not being resolved – the underlying causes of the mental, physical, and spiritual anguish are not being addressed or treated. Thus it is only a matter of time before the drugs and alcohol cease working, and an individual is left in a state of despair and hopelessness even worse than before.

Our Lighthouse Recovery Goals

We at The Lighthouse Recovery Institute understand that substance dependency cannot and will not be adequately treated unless all underlying causes are uncovered, addressed, and treated on a deeply thorough and highly individualized basis. Our hand-selected staff is full of medical and psychiatric professionals, all of whom have received extensive training in the field of trauma and addiction, and some who specialize exclusively in treating individuals who suffer from PTSD (or a number of other trauma-related disorders) in addition to substance dependency.

Our comprehensive treatment environment is conducive to trauma therapy, and we dedicate a large portion of our overall treatment curriculum to working through trauma of all kinds. Overcoming damaging experiences may seem impossible, especially to those who have unwittingly been exacerbating their state of mental and emotional devastation by engaging in ritualistic drug or alcohol use. Put an end to the vicious cycle, and heal thoroughly, authentically, and permanently – from the inside out.