Trauma and Addiction

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Trauma and Drug Addiction


Trauma and PTSD Treatment Centers

Over the course of the past several decades, addiction treatment has put a special emphasis on the role of traumatic experience in the psychological fitness and behavioral patterns of individuals suffering from substance use dependency. It is estimated that approximately 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 discovered that individuals who experienced sexual abuse are around 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, than those who did not experience sexual abuse.

Addiction and Sexual Trauma

Trauma is truly a prevalent underlying issue among men and women in drug addiction treatment. As a result, much time is spent addressing and therapeutically treating individual cases of past traumatic experiences.

Men who have experienced trauma (especially sexual trauma) have been societally conditioned to keep the associated pain and disturbance to themselves. It has been repeatedly proven through clinical research 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 is evident for women. The clear majority of women in inpatient drug rehab or outpatient drug rehab have experienced varying degrees of sexual trauma over the course of their life. As such, women have reported feeling 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. At the Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we maintain a trauma-informed model of care.

Treating Trauma as The Root of Addiction

In many cases, the internalization of past traumatic experience can lead to co-occurring disorders. This suggests that in addition to substance use dependency, men and women who have undergone significant emotional, sexual, or physical distress tend to adopt additional behavioral disorders to cope with the effects of the traumatic experience. The behavioral disorders tend to reveal themselves in a variety of different presentations for each gender. These disorders can range from eating disorders (most common in women but also affect men) and compulsive disorders (such as compulsive gambling or shopping) to dual diagnosis substance dependency disorders (primary heroin abuse with alcoholic tendencies, for example).

As eating disorders can create significant distress in addition to substance use dependency, drug 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. Although research notes these disorders are most common among women, the education and treatment are invaluable for both men and women. Men who have experienced trauma can often present with an inability to manage anger and aggression effectively. As research continues to describe how internalized trauma manifests itself differently in men and women, comprehensive addiction treatment has proven extremely beneficial in the simultaneous treatment of trauma and substance use dependency.


PTSD Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Trauma reveals itself in both physical and emotional ways. Many times, individuals who have experienced trauma will turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD requires a clinical diagnosis, however, the presentation of individuals with trauma often have several characteristic symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic events.

The following is a non-inclusive list of symptoms that may present in an individual who has experienced trauma:

  • Persistent feelings of guilt and shame
  • Inability to remember specific information surrounding the trauma
  • Self-blame
  • Persistent negative emotional state
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Diminished interest or participation in significant events
  • Feelings of detachment from others
  • Inability to experience positive emotions
  • Avoidance of situations or experiences related to the trauma
  • Feelings of depression and hopelessness
  • Irritable behavior and outbursts of anger
  • Reckless or destructive behaviors
  • Hypervigilance
  • Nightmares and other sleep disturbances (insomnia, etc.)
  • Increased heart rate

Treating Trauma in Addiction Treatment Center

In many cases, these 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), individuals with trauma may turn to self-medication as a means of symptom reduction. At first, self-medication works – yet, this is how the cycle of substance abuse can initiate as an unhealthy way to cope. Drugs and alcohol can 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 is not being addressed or treated. It is only a matter of time before the drugs and alcohol cease to be effective in coping, and an individual is left in a state of despair and hopelessness even worse than before.

Trauma Treatment in Drug and Alcohol Addiction Rehab

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 complete with 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 several other trauma-related disorders) in addition to substance dependency.

Our comprehensive treatment environment is conducive to trauma therapy. We dedicate a large portion of our overall treatment curriculum to working through the trauma of all types. Inpatient drug rehab or outpatient drug rehab cannot focus just on alcohol or drug use but on all the co-occurring disorders plaguing the patient. 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. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we help individuals put an end to the vicious cycle, and heal thoroughly, authentically, and permanently – from the inside out.

We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.

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