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:
- Natural disasters
- Sexual assault
- Domestic violence
- Physical abuse
- Terrorist events
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.
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 Trauma–Informed 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
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.