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Trauma is all around us. And it doesn’t have to be something someone considers extreme to cause trauma. Though extreme situations certainly can cause it. Effects of battle. First responder tragedies. Car accidents. Natural disasters. But there’s more: childhood neglect, emotional abuse, bullying, divorce, these things can also cause trauma. Trauma comes from distress to an individual, unique to each person. So you or someone you love has probably experienced trauma in their lives.

It is important to remember that trauma is commonly linked with substance abuse issues. Some studies have made the connection that up to 59% of young people with some variation of PTSD will develop substance abuse issues. This is a shocking statistic!

Consistently the research shows that those who suffer from some traumatic experience, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, will develop a substance use disorder at some point.

Generally speaking, this is seen as a coping mechanism—the root issues are there, and the substance is a tool to survive. Alcohol and marijuana have generally been found to be some of the most common drugs abused by trauma survivors, though every illicit drug is used for this purpose. This is why substance abuse treatment must consider the history of the person with trauma and addiction.

Substance Abuse Exacerbates Trauma

While drug use may be used as an escape from the pain of traumatic experiences, the long-term effects may exacerbate the trauma. Substance abuse, especially in the case of alcohol, is linked with an increased likelihood of domestic violence, especially in men. 67% of women in a substance abuse program reported being victims of domestic violence.

Substance abuse creates a cycle of trauma, sometimes creating more people with substance use disorder and other times putting those already suffering in even more danger of experiencing their trauma again.

Trauma-Informed Care

With so many connections between trauma and addiction, it is no wonder that the trauma experienced by the patient must guide treatment for trauma and substance abuse. Different types of care programs take the person’s traumatic experiences into account. If the root of why the person uses is never addressed, they are likely to fall back into patterns of use and relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on how our thoughts, feelings, and actions are interrelated. The goal of CBT is to assist the patient in seeing how what is going on internally leads to external behaviors. In substance abuse, this would relate to why the person uses it and what mental and emotional triggers lead to the cravings to use. Making those connections makes it easier to find a solution to the person’s substance abuse.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR therapy focuses on making the traumatic memories a client has less painful and vivid, helping them numb themselves from their past pain without having to rely on substances. Simply put, a patient will be asked to recall a traumatic memory. They will then perform some eye movement exercises while remembering the traumatic event, which helps reduce the vividness of the memory, making it less painful overall.

Trauma and Addiction

Long-term recovery isn’t as likely if a person’s trauma is not first addressed. The cause of the substance abuse must be treated for the person to lose the desire to use; however, if trauma can be dealt with, long-term recovery because far more likely.

Learn more about our trauma-informed therapy program in Orange County, CA. Covenant Hills treatment center offers Christian addiction treatment with a supplemental traditional program for lasting recovery.