When Trauma Leads to Addiction

When Trauma Leads to Addiction

By The Fix staff 02/27/19

Developing an addiction after trauma is actually pretty common and a number of studies have proven this connection.

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Man in psychotherapy for trauma with therapist

A traumatic event is defined as something that causes emotional, mental or physical harm. Often times when someone witnesses or physically experiences a trauma, it affects their emotional and mental development. And in some cases, it ends up leading to some sort of addiction, substance use disorder or risky, harmful behaviors down the line.

A Common Connection

Developing an addiction after trauma is actually pretty common and a number of studies have proven this connection. One of these studies was led by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It found that of the 196 people that were polled while in an inpatient treatment program receiving help for their addiction, 55 percent had either witnessed or experienced some sort of trauma during their childhoods.

These traumatic events, whether they were sexual or physical abuse, or neglect of some kind, increased the likelihood of these clients developing a major depressive or anxiety disorder, or in some cases PTSD. In most of these cases, a majority of these people were then compelled as they got older to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol in order to deal with their feelings.

Getting the Help You Need for Trauma-Related Addiction

Luckily, today there are treatment facilities specifically created for individuals who have undergone experiences that eventually led to drug and alcohol abuse. There are places that offer top of the line mental health treatment, in addition to standout programs for addressing chemical dependency.

Oceanside Malibu is one of these places.

Oceanside Malibu is an intimate residential treatment facility. Clients receive personalized attention at a time when they need it most.

Trauma-Informed Care

While undergoing the best trauma-informed treatment available, clients reside in a beautiful home that sits right on the Pacific Ocean. The healing process is accompanied by nourishing their bodies with the best food prepared by an expert chef. Every day clients awaken to the soothing sounds of the waves right outside their windows and get the chance to start over again in a safe, caring, and warm environment.

A Staff That Cares

One of the unique aspects of Oceanside Malibu is that they have a staff of therapists who are specially trained in treating clients who have been affected by trauma. They use protocols and approaches that specifically address those who are suffering from PTSD, grief and loss, eating disorders, anxiety and depression that were caused by trauma.

Some of the standard approaches offered at Oceanside Malibu for clients with a history of trauma include EMDR, which has proven to be very effective. EMDR involves eight phases of treatment and the amount of time that can take varies depending on the individual's background.

In order to fully receive the benefits of this approach, it’s important to identify the past memories of the event, the present disturbance, and establish what the future actions will be. This three-prong action plan is established over time as the client and therapists move through the eight phases.

EMDR is an interesting approach in that while it is used in identifying and treating specific traumatic events, the process doesn’t actually require the client to get into the exact details of their experience. It is incredibly important that the client feels safe with the therapist using this approach and trusts the process. The therapists using EMDR at Oceanside are extensively trained using this method, and take their time to educate their clients about what happens during a treatment session so that they are immediately set at ease and are able to be open to the experience.

Clients are given a series of tools that aid in relaxation and self-soothing, so if any stressful or painful memories arise during or after the session they are able to calm themselves down. Not only is this healthy in the moment, but clients who are treated with EMDR are able to apply this skill in other situations as well, and not only ones attributed to their traumatic event.

When EMDR is successful, it effectively desensitizes the sensations the client feels when they are confronted with their trauma, and replaces their negative feelings that are associated with it with positive ones. With this treatment technique the traumatic event’s associations gradually change, and the client’s past beliefs about themselves and how they self-identified during that event shifts entirely.

The number of sessions that it takes to reach this point of completion is different for everyone, however in most cases clients who were once paralyzed by the memories of their painful experiences are able to think and talk about it in a way that doesn’t affect them in a negative way again.

In conjunction with trauma informed EMDR treatment sessions, the therapists at Oceanside Malibu also offer family systems therapy as a tool for addressing and solving trauma between family members. CBT and DBT are also helpful methods to reduce any guilt or shame associated with trauma, and allow the individual to view the event in a different light.

Holistic approaches, like expressive art therapies, can also be useful for clients healing from trauma-related issues. There is a certified art therapist on staff who guides individuals through difficult emotions and reduces anxiety through self-expression. In addition, Oceanside Malibu offers equine therapy, salt water therapy, and breathwork. These methods promote clients’ self-awareness, and focus on their trust issues and communication.

Oceanside Malibu therapists work to uncover the underlying event that contributed to their client’s addictions. And they do this without any judgement or blame. Clients are able to work through their issues on their own time and are supported every step of the way.

While going through rehab is not ever an easy experience, the beautiful surroundings and unconditional support at Oceanside Malibu certainly ease the worry one might have when seeking a program.

Oceanside Malibu offers a comprehensive and effective treatment program for people with trauma and addiction issues. Not only will they learn how to confront and get past the experiences that contributed to their harmful behaviors, but also how to face their futures in a happy and healthy way.

Reach Oceanside Malibu by phone at (866) 738-6550. Find Oceanside Malibu on Facebook.

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