Part of the treatment protocols in addiction recovery is learning to understand how your past may have led you down the road to substance misuse, abuse and addiction.
Your life experiences are a fundamental part of the person you are today. For many people in recovery, the trauma of their past has led them to addiction. By understanding what these underlying factors, you can begin to address and work through them. By acknowledging your trauma and its connection to addiction, you can gain a better understanding of how you got here, and what you can do to move on to a better future.
Understanding Addiction-Related Trauma
The American Psychological Association identifies trauma as an emotional reaction to a shocking or alarming event. It can be an accident, a sexual assault, or even a natural disaster. Basically, any event in your past that puts you in fear of your safety, it’s trauma – and it puts your emotional and physical wellbeing at risk.
Some of the types of trauma most commonly experienced include:
- Sexual assault
- Domestic violence
- Parental neglect
- Verbal or emotional abuse
- Harassment or bullying
- Terminal illness of a loved one
- Accidents such as fires or car accidents
Everyone is impacted by traumatic events differently. Some of the long-term reactions to trauma include:
- Relationships that are strained
- Emotions that are unpredictable
- Difficulty coping
- Lack of confidence
- Ongoing nervousness, anxiety, or fear
- Erratic behavior
- Eating disorders
- Avoidance of things that bring back the trauma
- Trouble relating to others, professionally
- Reliving the traumatic event over and over in your mind
Many people who struggle with addiction have experienced some sort of traumatic event in their past and the addiction recovery programs at Moonlight Mountain help many people to cope, finally, with past trauma.
The Connections Between Trauma & Addiction
Studies have found that children who experience multiple traumatic events in their childhoods are far more likely than their peers to suffer from a drug or alcohol use disorder. However, traumatic events that occur in adults can also lead to these and other challenges. Many people who don’t get treatment for their past traumas develop post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD. Those with PTSD are more likely to abuse drugs than those who don’t suffer from it.
If you don’t seek help for any PTSD you may be experiencing, then it can make everyday tasks more difficult and strain relationships in your life. And when the emotional pain becomes too much to handle, many people turn to alcohol or drugs in an effort to help them cope, something referred to as self-medicating. The relief received from substances is only temporary, however, and it’s an unhealthy way to cope with the emotions that can come from PTSD. From there, it’s easy to become dependent on drugs and alcohol.
Many people with PTSD use drugs or alcohol to help them handle their triggers. Triggers often include:
- Social withdrawal
- Hypersensitivity to sudden movements or loud noises
The convergence of trauma and addiction leads to a lifestyle for some that isn’t sustainable. In fact, eventually, you may experience worse mood swings, deeper depression, and increased anxiety. Plus, it can be much more difficult to maintain personal relationships and employment as you sink deeper into destructive coping mechanisms such as addiction.
Bridging the Gap Between Trauma & Addiction Recovery
Mental health experts, including the compassionate team at Moonlight Mountain Recovery, understand the connection that exists between addiction and trauma.
When you enter a rehab program or addiction recovery center, mental health professionals work with you not simply on your addiction, but also on uncovering the reasons behind your addiction. If you have trauma in your past that has helped to lead you toward addiction, making that connection can lead to a dual diagnosis of addiction and PTSD.
It’s not uncommon for those with substance use disorder to have another mental health diagnosis. It may not be PTSD, but it can be things such as depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia. Addressing the addiction and any other mental health issues is paramount to a lasting recovery.
Therapy for Trauma & Addiction
Trauma-based addiction has been studied for many years and therapies have been developed to help treat it. A few of the ways that therapy can help manage trauma-based addiction include:
Exercises in Mindfulness
Learning to pay attention to the present and not judging situation in which you find yourself can help you become more observant. It can also help you better manage the triggers that may be caused by past trauma.
Developing Skills for Stress Tolerance
Therapy can provide the tools you need to redirect and relax ,as you use healthier strategies to cope with the stress and distress daily life can throw your way.
It’s important to develop strategies to help you better identify and handle emotions that can be destructive. Many people with past trauma are highly emotionally reactive and have problems handling challenges. During treatment, learning to master emotions is vital.
Improving Interpersonal Skills
Navigating social encounters can be a struggle for many people, especially those with past trauma. Therapy can help you to work toward related goals, such as being more assertive, in your interpersonal interactions with others.
Addiction is a complex issue, but you can increase your chances of a successful recovery by delving into your past and learning what it may have to do with the present. With the help of Moonlight Mountain’s Boise addiction treatment programs, you can move forward to a better tomorrow and a life free of substance abuse.