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How Trauma Resolution Therapy Helps With Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a disease that has its roots within people. Like many other serious diseases, it has no real cure. Instead, there are effective ways to treat and manage it.

The first step for people battling addiction is to find out what drives it. Those with substance abuse problems did not just one day decide to become addicts, but instead often do so to ease pain and suffering stemming from something else. Traumatic events may lead someone to addiction, and an effective way professionals have found to treat addiction is through the use of trauma resolution therapy. Explore how this type of intervention and treatment can aid in stemming the rising tide of addiction.

Figuring Out What Triggered the Addiction

In the wake of a tragedy or a particularly heart wrenching event, there is a tendency for people to brush the pain away and move on faster. In some people, this practice may work to some extent. In others, however, this type of response may set off a physiological response that is unintended. Instead of bringing the source of the pain to the surface to get closure and move forward, some start seeking other ways to numb the resulting pain. Addiction is often borne out of traumatic events, whether they are witnessed or experienced. Most often, people try and cope by utilizing things like alcohol or drugs to temporarily numb the pain. Over time, a person may go from just wanting these items to needing them. This is where the vicious cycle of addiction begins.


The Basic Definition of Trauma

The American Psychological Association defines trauma as the body’s emotional response to a horrific and terrible event. The event may happen once or be ongoing and triggers a physiological reaction. One of the first things that happens in the wake of trauma is the body may go into shock. The signs include things like:

  • Confusion
  • Increased pulse and breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Unconsciousness

Shock is typically short-lived, but the body’s physiological response to trauma may result in long-lasting anxiety and depression. Even years later, people who are reminded of a traumatic event may have a physical reaction to it as if the incident is currently happening. This is a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder, and it can paralyze someone for decades after the traumatic event.


Various Types of Trauma

There are many things that trauma resolution therapy may uncover when a professional uses it appropriately during addiction recovery. The information gleaned from sessions can help point a therapist in the direction of the type of trauma the addict experienced. Understanding this may help the counselor prepare an appropriate treatment plan for getting the addict through trauma resolution therapy.


A person dealing with complex trauma was forced to endure severely disturbing or physically painful events. These are people who have dealt with incidents such as kidnapping, prolonged childhood abuse, or deployments in a war zone. PTSD is often experienced by people who have dealt with events that fall into this category.


Ongoing physical or mental abuse by a loved one is one of the most common examples of chronic trauma. The events may have occurred a few times many years ago, or they may have just stopped before the patient went in search of help. The time that has passed does little to dampen the psychological scars of chronic trauma, especially absent the proper intervention. This type of trauma leads to the highest rate of addiction.


A one-time event may be all it takes to trigger the brain into addiction. During trauma resolution therapy, a patient may relay information about a situation that happened once but left a negative impression. This is known as acute trauma. Living through a natural disaster, getting in a car accident, or dealing with a loved one’s death are all examples of acute trauma.


People who experience a traumatic event firsthand are often those who have the most work to do in recovery. Direct trauma runs the gamut of experiences from physical involvement in events to witnessing an act of violence towards others.


On the flipside of direct trauma, indirect trauma is a third-party way of life-changing and horrific events. Watching news coverage on a mass shooting or hearing a friend speak about an assault may all trigger intense feelings in the listener, especially those more prone to empathy. Ironically, counselors and therapists, or those who commonly help other people talk through traumatic events, are the ones most impacted in this way.


Resolving the Trauma Aids in Addiction Recovery

Addressing the source of addiction may take a patient to the depths of despair. One of the most important things that needs to occur is restoring a feeling of safety and security. When a patient recalls the underlying trauma, it may trigger strong emotions, the urge to fight, run away, or return to addictive substances. Working through the ordeal with the patient is the only possible way to help reach a resolution. Allowing them to remember the initial event and all that may have followed in a controlled and supportive environment will let the grieving process begin. It is only then that a person fighting addiction may start to grasp the origins of the disease and start working towards managing it effectively.


Methods Used in Trauma Resolution Therapy

Each patient requires an individualized approach and treatment plan. However, there are a few common ways therapists and counselors help patients reach and resolve underlying trauma. Cognitive therapy is one of the most commonly utilized courses of treatment psychologists and counselors use in many situations. It allows patients to talk through events while the therapist guides them towards positive outcomes. The counselor also provides tools that patients can use to cope with the overwhelming feelings that accompany trauma and addiction. The method usually involves retraining the brain over time to have more control over adverse reactions by redirecting initial responses towards more positive ones.

A person’s reaction to recalling traumatic events may be physical as well as mental. In some instances, people tend to cry out in pain, cover their ears, or physically fight as if still in the midst of the triggering event. Some therapists utilize somatic experience to help a patient redirect physiological response to past trauma. During this type of therapy, patients are encouraged to release the physical stress that remembering trauma causes. Things like crying, shaking, or jumping up and down may help a person release the pent up physical feelings associated with the trauma instead of allowing them to remain inside and fuel the negative response.

The human body and mind still hold a great deal of mystery. One of the greatest is how the brain processes trauma and why some individuals are more susceptible to addiction than others. Regardless, those who suffer from addiction need help. When trying to get an addict to give up their drug of choice, therapists often start with trying to unlock what made them begin self-medicating in the first place. If it revolves around an event or series of events, then therapists move forward with trauma resolution therapy. The end goal, no matter what is sobriety. Clean Recovery Centers can help addicts through every step of the way, including facing addiction-triggering traumatic events of the past.

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