Trauma. Most of us have experienced trauma on some level. Some examples of trauma include:
- A car accident
- Being the victim of verbal or physical abuse
- Being the victim of bullying or exclusion
- Witnessing violence
- Abandonment, neglect
Although experiencing trauma doesn’t automatically lead to alcohol or drug addiction, trauma has been proven to be a major underlying root of addiction. Trauma therapy can help.
Trauma Therapy: Different Types of Trauma and Their Relation to Addiction
According to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, up to 75% of abuse survivors develop alcohol related problems. Female trauma survivors are reported to be at an even higher risk for developing alcohol abuse.
Sexual abuse survivors, both male and female, experience the highest rate of drug abuse and alcoholism.
Up to one third of all survivors of accidents, illness or natural disasters report problems with alcohol. I remember walking into my neighborhood grocery store right after Hurricane Charlie battered South Florida and watching a man walk right up to the beer cooler, grab a bottle, twist the top off and stand there drinking the entire thing. It startled me at the time, but today I have a better understanding of the way people deal with high levels of stress and anxiety.
Trauma Therapy: Why Does Trauma Connect Us to Addiction?
It’s not just alcohol and drug addiction that are connected to trauma. Eating disorders and other addictive behaviors are also proven to lead to addiction in many situations.
Addictive behaviors are part of post-trauma coping mechanisms, or, in regular terms, we are trying to handle this “thing” that is too big or too heavy for us, so we do things to avoid facing the pain. Things like compulsive eating, engaging in drug use or drinking excessively. There’s a funny thing about pain. It demands to be felt. It doesn’t go away, and it can surface at times when we aren’t ready, so we do what we can to make the pain go away. Whether that involves feeding our feelings with food or finding relief in alcohol or drugs, most of us turn to something when emotions overwhelm us.
Trauma Therapy: What Trauma Does to the Brain
If you’ve ever wondered why a person deep in addiction just can’t stop, here’s some important information about what takes place in the brain:
When trauma is experienced, your brain’s ability to detect and assess threat can become overactive. You can literally become stuck in the loop of anxiety and feelings of intense anxiety. At the same time, your ability to process memories can become disrupted (traumatized) and your mind can experience uncomfortable and disturbing memories over and over. Finally, your brain has a center that regulates impulsive behavior. If you’re filled with anxious thoughts, impulses run wild, overruling logical thinking. If you’ve ever experienced obsessive and overwhelming thoughts that are too difficult to fight, this is what’s going on. This is your post-trauma brain, but healing is possible through trauma therapy.
Trauma Therapy: Healing for the Post-Trauma Brain
Attempts to get clean without having a way to free our minds from the trauma of the past only leads to failed attempts, frustration and disappointment. It is unrealistic to expect an individual struggling with addiction to remove the drug without the ability to reclaim control over their past. A therapist who specializes in recognizing and treating trauma will treat the problem at it’s root. Healing has to come before any long term results can be expected.
At Gracious Care Recovery Solutions, our licensed and board certified addiction specialists deal with the core issues and help individuals to truly walk free from the constant struggle and overwhelming desire to engage in compulsive behavior. Through trauma therapy, the obsession to escape the pain through alcohol or drug addiction leaves us.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction and you want to break free, please call us today. We are available 24/7.