Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event that has shattered your sense of security or made you feel helpless. Experiencing trauma, especially during childhood, increases the risk of developing many chronic diseases, including heart, lung, liver ailments, depression, and addictions. Studies of those with substance abuse disorders find that a high percentage have suffered childhood traumas. For example, those who have had five or more adverse childhood experiences are much more likely to abuse drugs and need substance abuse treatment.
Adverse childhood experiences include economic hardship, parental divorce, death or incarceration of a parent, abuse, exposure to neighborhood violence, or living with a mentally ill family member or one who suffers from substance abuse disorder. To successfully treat addiction in someone who has experienced childhood trauma, professionals will also need to treat the trauma. Thus, turning to the counselors and therapists at Harmony Hills is one way to begin healing from trauma.
Causes of Trauma
One-time events or long-term stressful or dangerous situations can cause trauma. Examples of one-time events are accidents, illness, natural disasters, or violent attacks. Examples of ongoing stress are living with a mentally ill relative, spending time in a warzone, or battling a life-threatening injury. Often overlooked trauma causes include surgeries, the sudden death of a loved one, and a humiliating experience.
Signs of Trauma
People react differently to trauma; some have strong emotions and others seem to be numb. Some signs of trauma are:
- flashbacks of the event
- trouble relating to loved ones
- physical symptoms such as nausea or headaches
- change in appetite
- sleep problems
- strong emotions at what might be an inappropriate time
- new sensitivity to noises and smells around you
- feeling strong emotions such as shame, depression, anxiety, guilt, and denial
Trauma Treatment Examples
Some people can heal independently after a trauma using self-care techniques such as exercise, mindfulness, and a balanced lifestyle. But others need professional help from a trauma-focused or trauma-informed therapist at a trauma therapy program. Some trauma treatment examples are cognitive-behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, somatic therapies, and medications.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people change their thought processes to influence how they behave or feel. Researchers have found CBT to be particularly effective in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD develops if the symptoms of trauma worsen over the months following the event and can significantly impair a person’s ability to function.
In eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR therapy), patients relive their trauma while the therapist redirects eye movements to help them process the traumatic events.
Some therapists also use somatic or body-based therapies. Trauma treatment examples that fall into this category are reliving the trauma in a safe place, touch therapies, and acupoint stimulation. In another example, the therapist combines psychotherapy with body-based techniques to turn the traumatic memories into strength sources.
Doctors sometimes prescribe medications to help individuals manage symptoms while undergoing trauma therapy.
Treating Trauma and Addiction
Many individuals who struggle with trauma conditions attempt to self-medicate with alcohol and other drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has determined that screening those with addictions for trauma conditions is important for developing a successful recovery plan. Those who suffer from both substance abuse disorder and a trauma condition will be treated for both simultaneously. This is known as dual-diagnosis therapy.
Trauma Therapy at Harmony Hills
Harmony Hills uses several modalities to treat trauma and substance abuse disorders simultaneously. When you come to Harmony Hills, you first sit down with a therapist who will assess your personal and medical history; if appropriate, you’ll participate in trauma therapy that aims to treat your depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues along with your addiction. Don’t let trauma and addiction control your life. We use science-based treatment methods on a beautiful rural campus. Contact us today at 855.494.0357.