Trauma Informed Care and Addiction Treatment

Trauma Informed Care and Addiction Treatment

Trauma informed care is a relatively new but increasingly popular practice in the mental health field. It develops from the knowledge that trauma and addiction are closely intertwined. It also recognizes that treatment should be focused on healing trauma rather than just eliminating addiction. Treatment needs to recognize, respect, and honor the life experience of those who have been impacted by trauma. The goal is to provide a safe treatment space for those who have experienced significant emotional wounding because of abuse, neglect, or violence. Here is what you need to know about trauma informed care and addiction treatment.

Types of Trauma

According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, there are various types of trauma, including:

  • Violence
  • Bullying
  • Natural disasters
  • Sexual assault
  • Neglect
  • Domestic violence
  • Physical abuse
  • Terrorist events
  • Grief

What is Trauma Informed Care?

Trauma informed care is a growing practice in the mental health field. It is an approach that recognizes, respects, and honors the experiences of those who have been through trauma. It acknowledges that survivors of trauma have often experienced significant emotional woundingand that they need different treatment than those who have not been through trauma. The goal is to help clients find healthy ways to process their trauma rather than forcing them to just eliminate their addiction.

When it comes to addiction treatment, trauma informed care acknowledges the issues which can arise for those suffering from substance use disorder. Addiction is often connected to trauma, but so are other issues like depression and anxiety. Therefore, it is important to process all of these areas in a safe and encouraging way.

Benefits of Trauma Informed Care

Exposure to trauma can affect a person’s ability to control impulsive and out-of-control behaviors. The experience of trauma often results in intense feelings of shame as well as hopelessness. Trauma informed care provides a safe place where clients can work through these feelings and learn to trust others and connect with them on an emotional level. Without this, clients may be unable to make healthy decisions about their lives, leading to substance use or falling into unhealthy relationships. Trauma informed care helps individuals recognize threatening situations so they can deal with them in healthy ways.

Safety for Clients

Many times, trauma informed care is set up to be as safe as possible for the client. This often means that there are safety plans in place to protect clients during periods of crisis, and boundaries are set up so the client knows what they can and cannot do while participating in treatment. The reasons for these rules will be discussed with a client so they know why the rules are in place.

When a person has experienced trauma, it is important that they feel safe at all times. This is especially true when they are participating in treatment. While many people fear treatment and feel uncomfortable, traumatic experiences can result in trust issues and a lack of emotional safety. Clients should feel safe to express themselves without being judged or shamed, and they should be able to disclose any trauma related information without it being used against them.

In the mental health field, there is often a lack of understanding about the trauma associated with addiction. Trauma informed care is an ongoing process of educating yourself and your team about addiction, trauma, and the connection between the two. When you work to understand these connections, your treatment will be more effective.

Avoid Risk of Re-Traumatization

In many cases, a person with addiction has experienced several traumatic events. For example, they may have been the victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence. They are then faced with the risk of being re-traumatized when seeking treatment for their addiction.

This is why it is important to provide trauma informed care in all treatment centers that treat people who are victims of trauma. When a client feels safe and comfortable in their environment, they will be able to process their feelings and work through issues associated with their trauma. This will result in a higher level of satisfaction with their treatment and, ultimately, a reduction in the likelihood of re-traumatization.

Peer Support

There are times in recovery when people feel alone. They may have been shamed or judged by others because of their addiction. They can feel like no one understands what they are going through. Peer support groups can be beneficial in helping these individuals develop a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Losing one’s identity may be a common experience among trauma survivors. Some of the symptoms that can accompany this experience include feeling isolated and alone, being unable to trust others, and having a reduced sense of self. Peer support groups can help people with their recovery by allowing them to feel connected to others who have also dealt with similar traumas or issues. Through these connections, survivors can feel less isolated and more empowered to continue their healing process.

Connection Between Trauma and Addiction

For many people, addiction is a way of coping with the aftereffects of trauma. In an effort to feel better, some people turn to alcohol or drugs. Others use different methods to numb themselves, including abusive relationships, gambling, and shopping. The way in which people seek out such coping mechanisms can vary greatly. The common denominator is that they are all ways that someone who has experienced trauma may be trying to feel better or escape their pain.

Types of Trauma Informed Therapy

According to TraumaInformed Care in Behavioral Health Services, there are many types of trauma informed therapy, such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Cognitive processing therapy

Evidence-Based Practice

Trauma informed care is an evidence-based practice. What this means is that the effectiveness of treatment has been proven by scientific research. Evidence-based practice reduces the chance that patients will relapse.

Trauma informed therapy can be very beneficial in recovery. Contact Harmony Stuart, a Florida drug treatment center, to speak to a member of our staff about trauma informed care and other treatment options. We’re here to help on the road to sobriety.

How Enabling Can Make Addiction More Dangerous

mother holding her daughter and kissing her cheek

Parental Instincts

You love your children. You believe in them. They mean the world to you. You want the best for them. You want to do your best for them. You worked hard to provide for them. Put a roof over their head. Made sure they were fed. Gave them a place to sleep. You want for them to succeed; to have things life didn’t afford to you. You offered the wisdom you had. You taught them. You trained them. Your children are your single biggest investment. It’s reasonable to want a return on that investment, right? They ought to be able to turn their lives into something. Shouldn’t they?

Denial and Deflection

You might think nothing is wrong. You may justify your child’s addiction. Or try to minimize it. “Well,” you might say. “They’re still in school.” Or, “they can still hold down a job.” Remember: drug abuse doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Addiction has an array of contributing factors. And one of those is a person’s home life. If you discover that your child is using, even once, ask questions. You should want to know why.

What Is Enabling?

In our quest to help our children, we want to spare them consequences. We want to protect them from their mistakes. This protective desire is normal. And healthy in many cases. But it can have a disadvantage. No matter how well intended our actions, they can enable our children to keep using. Enabling behaviors encourage or inspire continued substance abuse in our loved ones.

It’s an unfortunate consequence. If we shield our children from consequences, we can rob them of the impetus to change. As a result, they will have no desire to seek treatment. If an addiction continues unabated, it can cause irreversible health problems. Up to, and including, death.

Step Out Of Denial

“My child is an addict.” A very hard thing to say out loud. Even harder to believe. But that’s the first step, which is often the most difficult. Before we can begin to genuinely help our kids, we have to admit their problems. Try it. Put these words together. My. Child. Is. An. Addict. You must square up to this reality. You must acknowledge it. Don’t wait for a tragedy, like a lost job or failing grades. Intervene now. It might arouse anger, mistrust, guilt, or frustration. But not addressing the addiction will make it worse for you. And worse for your child.

I Admit My Child Is Addicted. Now What?

Cultivate trust. Trust is the essential ingredient in getting your child help. To cultivate trust, practice active listening. Look them in the eye. Ask them open-ended questions about their experiences. Respond with your body, as well as your voice. Nod. Use verbal affirmations (“yes, “I see,” “uh-huh,” “go on,” etc.). If you don’t understand something they say, then tell them so. Feel free to ask clarifying questions. Don’t offer advice. Don’t make any statements until they finish speaking. Once they are done, repeat back to them how you understand what they said. Preface with something like, “So, what I hear you saying is…” or, “let me make sure I understand…” Even if you get it wrong, it’s the effort that cultivates trust.

If you, or someone you love, is struggling with addiction, don’t wait. Treatment is available. If you’d like more information, call Harmony Treatment and Wellness now at 772-247-6180.


7 Don’ts for Discussing Someone’s Addiction With Them

How to not to Talk about Addiction with a loved one

All loved ones of addicts reach the point where they need to discuss the problem with the person directly. In doing so, you have a chance to convince them to get them the help they need. But you also run the risk of pushing them away and further isolating them in their addiction. Learning to talk to your loved one about their addiction in a way that feels safe is the best way to get them the help they need. 

Avoiding saying or doing these important “Don’ts” will help you create a safe space and help get the best possible result for your loved one. 

 

 

1. Don’t Berate, Belittle or Blame

 

Accusatory tactics like these will likely result in your loved one feeling defensive, angry, and even storming out. Addicts are in a fragile state and are quick to emotionally spiral, which typically drives them to use in order to soothe their pain. Avoid these three B’s to maintain a safe and constructive environment. 

 

 

2. Don’t Make It All About You

 

Your experience of their addiction is part of this, of course, but right now the goal is to get your loved one the help they need. Try to make sure you’re focusing on them. Have you noticed they seem unhappy? Do they look different than they used to? Is their health declining? Rather than focusing on how you’ve been treated, focus on them. Your relationship to their addiction can be discussed later, once they are safely in treatment.  

 

 

3. Don’t Attempt to Know What They are Feeling or Experiencing

 

It is best not to talk to your loved one as if you know what it is like to have an addiction (unless of course you actually do). Every addict’s struggle is unique. Instead of trying to assume what they are going through, ask them. Opening the dialogue creates a space for honesty, transparency, vulnerability and ultimately, change. 

 

 

4. Don’t Pass Judgement

 

In creating a safe and open space, you may learn things you didn’t expect. If they are telling you things that make you  feel inclined to judge their behavior. Don’t. Whatever you do, do not judge them. Support them, listen to them, offer to help. Know that addiction is a disease that takes people away from their true selves. Their addict behaviors are not indicative of them as a person. 

 

 

5. Don’t Raise Your Voice

 

This is a surefire way to create a heated argument, which is very unlikely to end in a positive outcome. Sometimes a person in active addiction will feel accused by any discussion of their substance abuse. Keep your voice level, even if your loved one does not. Do not engage with any outbursts, stay calm, and maintain the safe space. 

 

 

6. Don’t use this as an opportunity to air all your grievances 

 

You might be angry or hurt over things that have happened during their active addiction. It’s understandable and ok to feel these things, but now is not the time to raise them. For now, do not criticize, express anger, or bring up the past in a negative way. The only things you should be talking about are your concerns for their safety and wellbeing. Again: safe space. 

 

 

7. Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goal

 

Keep reminding yourself of the purpose of this conversation: To get your loved one into treatment. Before speaking ask yourself, will what I’m about to say bring us closer to this goal? If the answer is uncertain, don’t say it. 

 

We hope this helped you learn how not to talk to a loved one about their addiction. However, if you feel you need more help or would like guidance on how best to get your loved one in to treatment, our expert team at Harmony Recovery Group can help. Call us today. We’re here to support you.

Am I Enabling? The Difference Between Helping and Hurting 

Am I Enabling? Learning the difference between helping and hurting

When our loved ones are in trouble, all we want to do is help. It is one of our most beautiful human instincts but unfortunately when a loved one is in the throes of addiction, our well-intentioned help can really hurt. So, it’s important to ask ourselves, “Am I enabling?”

There is a fine line between offering support and enabling, and it is a difficult line to walk. Unfortunately, despite our best intentions, our help can inadvertently harm the addict by making it easier for them to continue using. On our end, we often feel guilt, hurt and betrayal because our help was used to fuel their addiction. 

Understanding what enabling is will ultimately support both you and the addict, as you will only be taking actions that push them towards treatment. However, be aware that this road can be a painful one. We cannot force anyone to change who does not want to change themselves. 

 

What is Enabling? 

Enabling is any action that makes it easier, more comfortable, or financially possible to continue an irresponsible, inappropriate or dangerous behavior. This can be unrelated to substance abuse or addiction, such as letting your child stay home from school because he didn’t finish his project in time. In this instance, you are not helping them, you are allowing them to shirk the consequences of their choices. This ultimately enables them to continue being irresponsible. 

When drug or alcohol addiction is involved, the matter becomes much more serious and can play out in a highly co-dependent manner. For example, a parent gives an addict money for groceries so they won’t “go hungry” but the addict spends the money to get their drug fix instead. The parent has not helped the child, just enabled them to fall deeper into addiction. 

 

Am I Enabling? 

Enabling can constitute more than financial support and occur in a myriad of ways. Ask yourself the questions below.

 

Do I make excuses for the addict’s behavior? 

“He’s just tired,” and “she’s just drinking because she had a bad day,” are examples of excuses we can make to ignore the deeper problem. But pretending the problem doesn’t exist, does not make it go away. Excusing behavior will only hurt both you and the addict in the long run. 

 

Have I ever lied to others in order to cover up their using? 

If you’ve ever found yourself covering for your addicted loved one, you are enabling. Maybe they have gone on a bender and you call their employer saying they are sick, or make an excuse as to why they didn’t make it to the friend’s birthday party. These are all actions which allow the addict to avoid consequences of their using and thus allow them to continue to do so. 

 

Am I afraid to express my feelings or concerns for fear they will react negatively (i.e. they may leave you or be angry with you)? 

Acting out of fear is the opposite of rational behavior. When we act out of fear, we sacrifice our own comfort and wellbeing in exchange for momentary peace and safety. 

The truth is, your fears can and may come true. The addict may leave, they may get into trouble, they could wind up in jail, or they could get angry when you address their addiction. But not addressing what is going just means that the addiction continues in the dark, where it thrives. 

 

Do I constantly blame others for the addict’s problems or addiction to avoid placing responsibility on them? 

Blaming addictive behaviors on outside factors such as a stressful job or drinking buddies who are a bad influence is ignoring the root of the problem. Thinking that if those factors weren’t in the picture, your loved one wouldn’t abuse substances is likely to be inaccurate. It also denies that the person may be in a full-blown addiction which is a disease not a choice. 

 

Am I putting the needs of the addict above the needs of myself or my family? 

Because addicts are typically unable to care for their own basic needs, they often rely on an enabler to help them. This is textbook Codependent Behavior. The enabler feels a personal responsibility to “help” the addict and the addict relies on the enabler to fix their problems so their addiction can continue. Things like bailing the addict out of jail, buying them food, or skipping other responsibilities to go pick them up are all signs of enabling. It also means you are putting their needs first. Can you really afford to pay their rent or is it causing your hardship? Either way, you are helping them use. 

 

Stopping the Cycle

 

 

1. Face your Fears

You may be afraid that without your help they could wind up homeless, hungry, or in jail. Accept that these are possible outcomes of their addiction. Typically addicts must become uncomfortable in order to accept they have a problem and seek treatment. Sometimes they need to hit rock bottom, but not always. Unfortunately you have to be willing to find out. 

 

2. Create Boundaries (and stick to them)

Learn to detach with love. Stop protecting them from the consequences of their actions, do not offer financial support, and do not bail them out of trouble. Keep a schedule and stick to it, for example, they are welcome to 6pm family dinner but only if they come on time. 

 

3. Seek Education and Support

Learn all you can about addiction. Go to Al-Anon meetings. Find a counsellor and take care of your mental health. This is a difficult journey. Understanding the roots of addiction and speaking to others who understand can help with feeling powerless, lonely, or scared. 

 

4. Talk to Your Loved One About Treatment

Wait until they are sober to have a conversation with them about their using. Be honest with them: talk what you see when they are high, tell them how their addiction has affected you and others. Then suggest they get treatment. Be prepared for them to respond negatively or decline, we cannot make someone change until they are ready. 

 

Lastly, contact a professional if you need help or advice. At Harmony Recovery Group, we are here for you.

Reach out to us anytime. 

Rebuilding Foster Care Families in the Aftermath of Addiction

Foster Care and Addiction

It’s no secret that addiction tears families apart, this is especially true in the case of foster care. Studies have shown one in three children in the program were admitted due to parental substance abuse. But what happens when parents are in recovery and their children are able to come home. How do you heal the trauma that tore the family apart? 

 

Communicate 

Talk about what has happened, apologize, listen to their feelings. Depending on their age, this may be the time to have an open discussion with them and communicate honestly. Make sure they know that their feelings are valid, that you hear them, and of course, that you love them. 

 

Create a “New Normal” 

Children and families thrive on consistency. Try to create routines in your everyday life, maybe every night you have dinner at 6pm together. Or every morning you listen to the radio. Small things can make a difference in creating a feeling of consistency. Consider creating new traditions. Maybe every Saturday morning you take a walk together as a family or every Sunday you make pancakes. Making traditions make ordinary days feel special and make memories that last. 

 

Be Patient and Don’t Play the Guilt Game

Just because you’re in a different place now doesn’t mean you can expect things to change overnight. You may feel closed out or be frustrated by how your relationship building is going, but remember to be patient. This process takes time, particularly with older children. Don’t guilt them for holding a grudge or not responding the way you want them to. With time and consistency you can rebuild, but don’t put your expectations onto them. 

 

Keep Showing Up

It might be hard to face the circumstances, and new requirements such as supervised visitation however no matter what, continue to be there for them. It might take weeks, months, or even years for them to recover, feel safe, and accept the “new normal.” Regardless of how distant they may be, even when they act out or misbehave, stay with them. They need you and are likely testing your limits to see if you are here to stay. Be truly there for them. Show up, every day, in whatever way you can. 

 

Every scenario looks different. The ultimate goal is to heal, and let go of resentments and the shame. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and their children have been placed in foster care our case managers might be able to help. Contact us below or click here.