Trauma and Addiction: How Therapy in Recovery Can Help

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Trauma and Addiction: How Therapy in Recovery Can Help

When contemplating what type of substance abuse treatment therapy is right for you, it is important to recognize the relationship between trauma and addiction. When it comes to successful addiction treatment, therapy is imperative because it helps heal more than just physical dependency. Instead of seeing addiction as a single, disconnected problem, you can come to recognize its role in your life based on how it has helped and hindered you from coping with difficult emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

Benefits of Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Rather than just going through detox and expecting to stay sober, therapy helps you build a new foundation. For months or years, you have relied on substances to fill a part of your life. The role of your addiction could wear many hats; it could have helped you deal with loneliness, escape the pain of the past, cope with depression or anxiety, and much more. Therapy aims to help you see addiction’s use in your life. Unfortunately, addiction only temporarily numbs us from pain. It never leads to true healing or growth. Therapy is designed to help you move forward and build a meaningful life. This looks different for everyone, but the fundamental goal remains. Through counseling and therapy, you can learn to set goals, care for yourself, connect with others, cope with stress, and so much more. A combination of both group and individual therapy has been found most helpful for people in recovery. Some of the benefits you can gain through therapy in addiction recovery are:

  • Stress management techniques.
  • Greater self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Moving past shame and guilt from substance abuse.
  • Help to repair relationships that have been hurt by addiction.
  • Accepting, treating, and living with co-occurring mental illness.
  • Better relationship skills like conflict resolution and communication.
  • Strategies for coping with negative thoughts and feelings that could trigger a relapse.

Trauma and Addiction Recovery

In recent years, psychologists have begun to recognize the importance of addressing unhealed trauma in people with addiction. We know that trauma impacts everything, including increasing someone’s risk of experiencing mental health problems and abusing substances. Therapy can help you address and process through a traumatic event or events and learn to heal and see your life as a greater narrative. If you have experienced trauma, then it likely plays some role in your substance abuse problem. One of the biggest myths about trauma is that a person must undergo a life-or-death experience to be traumatized. This is not true; while post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) does stem from acute traumatic events like war or car accidents, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) stems from long-term exposure to traumatic experiences such as abuse. Some people who do not have a formal PTSD diagnosis still carry unhealed trauma every day. This leads to a deep sense of hopelessness, fear, and lack of trust that can worsen the feelings of isolation, negativity, and worthlessness so many with addiction feel. Depression, anxiety, and many other mental illnesses are also worsened and even fueled by unresolved trauma. You are so much more than what has been done to you or what you have survived; just as your addiction does not define your identity, neither does your trauma. However, it is important to recognize the role that both have played in your life and shaping you into the person you are today. You can build acceptance, tolerance, and peace, but it takes hard work and, more often than not, professional support.

Trauma-Focused Therapy

A trauma-focused therapy is specifically designed to recognize and respect the impact trauma has on someone’s life and mental health. Different types of therapy used for trauma include:

  • Supportive group therapy.
  • Stress inoculation therapy.
  • Prolonged exposure therapy.
  • Cognitive processing therapy.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

Most therapists draw techniques from various therapies to build individual treatment plans. Personalized treatment is always the best, and it gives you space to make changes and adapt your therapy to suit both your immediate needs and growth.

Looking Ahead in Addiction Recovery

As you integrate therapy into your recovery story, you’ll also be able to plan a future that you feel confident and excited about. You will be able to develop a plan for relapse prevention, look after your mental health and see a much bigger picture. Instead of recovery being a wide, open space with no direction, it becomes a blank canvas for you to create a new future. The possibilities can be overwhelming, but you will always feel like you have the resources and support you need to take the next step with the right treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, contact your local hospital or contact a professional at Silver Sands Recovery today.    

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