Trauma Therapy for Trauma and Addiction
The Alo House program uses “connection, not control” as a way to empower and inspire our clients through their addiction recovery.
Seeking therapy is not necessarily an easy thing to do for survivors of trauma. In some cases, a person may not even recognize that they are a trauma victim or that their life, behavior and mental health has been negatively impacted by it.
It can also be more difficult to suggest to a loved one, a friend or colleague that they might need professional trauma therapy to learn to cope with what they have experienced.
That is why it’s important to understand what trauma is in the first place.
Trauma is an event or a series of incidents in which a person experiences or perceives a threat to their life, their body or their mental health.
A traumatic event overwhelms a person’s ability to cope with, or even acknowledge, what happened to them.
Examples of trauma can include:
- Losing a loved one
- Witnessing an act of violence
- Physical or Emotional abuse
- Car accident
- Sexual assault
No one is prepared for trauma when it happens to them and it’s much more common than most people realize.
“Each year, millions of people are injured and survive,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “They are faced with life-long mental, physical and financial problems.”
Unfortunately, the CDC’s estimates don’t include the millions of survivors of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse – very real types of trauma that often stay under the radar and go unreported.
Left untreated, psychological and emotional trauma can lead to a host of physical and mental disorders.
It’s through therapy that survivors learn to cope with, and identify what type of trauma disorder they’re battling, and the best approach for recovery.
Types of Trauma Disorders
Trauma disorders are characterized by the fact that the symptoms a victim struggles with are a result of an underlying traumatic event or ongoing trauma.
No two people respond to trauma in the same way, which makes some wonder why they’re suffering, while others who experienced similar incidents are able to move on with their lives.
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6 Types of Trauma Disorders
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in people who have experienced trauma, such as soldiers returning from war, witnesses of a school shooting, victims of physical assault and a number of other scary or violent situations.
People with PTSD might battle addiction issues, experience flashbacks to the traumatic events, have trouble sleeping because of nightmares, suffer from anxiety and depression, and may even be dealing with these painful symptoms on a day-to-day basis, for months at a time.
Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)
Acute stress disorder (ASD) is also the result of a traumatic experience, though unlike PTSD, the difficult symptoms of the disorder last a shorter period of time, usually only a few days or as long as several weeks.
Adjustment Disorders (AD)
Adjustment disorders (AD) are often a response to difficult or highly stressful situations, like unexpectedly losing a loved one and being unable to cope with the loss.
Symptoms of severe depression and anxiety can take hold and, sometimes lead to inappropriate or damaging behaviors
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a less common trauma disorder found in children who suffered neglect during childhood.
Neglect is a form of trauma, and children experiencing this trauma disorder may have symptoms of being withdrawn or afraid in everyday situations.
In more severe cases, they have difficulty engaging with others, including friends or family members.
Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED)
Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) is similar to RAD, though less severe. Children who experienced the trauma of neglect and develop this disorder might find it incredibly challenging to etsablish relationships or act in ways deemed socially normal.
Other and Unspecified Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders
Other and unspecified trauma and stressor-related disorders is a diagnosis psychiatrists may apply to patients who have suffered a trauma related issue, but whose symptoms don’t traditionally fit within a specific trauma disorder.
Children are especially vulnerable to trauma, and the consequences of their experiences will often result in a lifetime struggle with mental health issues and behavioral troubles, which are likely to stem from trauma disorders.
Early childhood trauma, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, is trauma that occurs in children under the age of six years old.
There’s a broad range of trauma that children, like adults, are all too often exposed to. Children are much more sensitive, and more likely to internalize trauma.
Childhood Trauma can stem from some of the following events:
- Sexual and physical abuse
- Witnessing or being a victim of domestic abuse
- Suffering neglect from both physical and emotional needs
- Violence at school, which can include physical assault or school shootings
- Both getting bullied and being a bully can cause psychological trauma
- Medical trauma as a result of illness or serious injury requiring hospitalization or painful medical procedures
- War and refugee trauma, such as living in a combat-zone, becoming a victim of terrorism, or being forced to flee the safety of friends and family
- Natural disasters
- Death of a loved one
It is important that children always receive therapy for trauma. Early detection or diagnosis of possible trauma disorders improves the chances that they will learn to understand, cope, and recover from traumatic events.
Trauma and Addiction
It’s very common for people who were exposed to trauma, especially during childhood, to use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, or a means of escape for dealing with their past trauma.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) was a joint effort between the CDC and Kasier Permanente in the mid-1990s that interviewed over 17,000 patients about traumatic childhood experiences.
The study discovered that it’s quite common for most people to have at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE).
Unfortunately, many people have more than one ACE, and the number of ACEs is cumulative. As the number of ACEs increases, so do the chances of having negative health and behavioral issues later in life, including addiction.
A person with 2 ACEs is two to four times more likely to use drugs or alcohol than a person with zero ACEs. He or she is also more likely to begin drinking alcohol at a younger age.
An ACEs score of 4 increases the chances of developing an alcohol use disorder by 700 percent, and people with a score of 5 are seven to ten times more inclined to use or inject illegal drugs.
According to Dr. Daniel Sumrok, director of the Center for Addiction Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine, addiction is a coping behavior people with many adverse childhood experiences adopted as a result of their childhood trauma.
It’s possible to treat addiction brought on by childhood trauma, but it’s important to use dual diagnosis treatmenttechniques for recovery to be successful.
Trauma Treatment and Therapy at Alo House
There are a number of different approaches to trauma therapy that can help people recover.
Alo House uses the Compassionate Care Model® with our clients, to help them set goals for what they want to achieve through therapy, and shape a plan for how they hope their lives will be after the process.
We use a wide range of evidence-based trauma therapies that have proven to be successful, including:
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Interpersonal Mindfulness Based Self-Regulation
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Equine Assisted Therapy
Reclaiming personal power is possible through trauma therapy. Because each person’s trauma is unique to them, the process of therapy is often different from one person to another.
However, one of the first steps is identifying and acknowledging the suffering a victim has endured, and learning to use the tools to avoid triggers that reignite feelings of isolation, fear, dread, hopelessness and other symptoms related to the trauma.
Some of the most common goals for people seeking therapy for their trauma include:
- Overcoming substance abuse and addiction issues brought on by the need to self-medicate and ease painful symptoms of trauma
- Recognize the traumatic event, but remain emotionally detached from it rather than reliving the experience over and over
- Improved day-to-day life that’s focused on the present and not the past
While everyone is different, many trauma survivors who go through therapy find that they want to help others that survived similar experiences.
Some raise awareness about specific kinds of trauma, and every so often, find the strength to confront their abusers. Others simply want to have a peaceful life free from the symptoms of trauma disorders.
At Alo House, we utilize compassion as a way to inspire and overcome the struggles with trauma and addiction.