Addiction can both cause and be caused by traumatic events. Trauma-informed care is a more informed method of addiction treatment designed to address the consequences of trauma and addiction. This treatment is not meant to address the traumatic experience itself, but the way the experience impacts life and addiction.
Trauma can impact a person’s life physically, mentally, behaviorally, socially, and spiritually. Addressing the core of the trauma is important, but it is just as crucial that the person takes stock of how it has affected their life and what they can do to recover. The Silver Ridge trauma-informed care program educates clients on the impact of unresolved trauma so that they can understand how it affects an addiction.
The Relationship between Trauma & Addiction
It is not unusual for a person to develop an addiction after experiencing a trauma. Substance abuse is often seen as an escape from life and its problems, but in reality, it is only causing more problems that lead to further traumatic events. This can create an unfortunate cycle where a person tries to forget a trauma through substance abuse, thereby resulting in more traumatic events that they attempt to forget with further substance abuse.
Many addictions begin after experiencing a traumatic event, such as:
- Living through a natural disaster
- Sexual abuse
- Suffering a serious injury
- Losing a loved one
- Witnessing a terrible accident
- Witnessing an act of violence
Trying to cope with these events through an addiction, whether its alcohol, drugs, or even food or sex, only results in more self-destructive behavior. Trauma can lead to addiction, and addiction can lead to trauma. It is important to address the addiction before it causes more problems.
How Trauma-Informed Care Can Help
Trauma-informed care strives to establish a sense of safety and stability for people struggling with addiction. Continued feelings of stress from trauma are believed to occur because the mind has not yet reconciled with the fact that it is no longer in danger. Unlike animals, people are able to dwell on traumatic events long after they occur. This results in stress and anxiety as the mind and body remain in “alert mode.” Reestablishing a sense of safety so that a person can accept and live with the aftermath of a traumatic event is crucial.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has named six key principles in trauma-informed care:
- Establishing a feeling of safety
- Trustworthiness and transparency from care professionals
- Peer support
- Collaboration with care professionals and loved ones
- Empowerment and choice
- Addressing cultural, historical, and gender issues
People who are abusing substances to cope with trauma need to learn how to accept and live with their thoughts without numbing them. This is the goal of trauma-informed care. We strive to not only help our clients feel safe, but also empower them to move forward and live life to the fullest once again.