The relationship between trauma and substance abuse is profound. Alcohol and drugs can initially blunt the negative feelings and unpleasant sensations that come from trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those with trauma-related depression may find themselves medicating with stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine, while others might try to soothe their anxiety with alcohol or benzodiazepines.
People with unresolved trauma and PTSD aren’t “crazy.” In fact, by turning to substances, they’re simply attempting to cope. But using substances can lead to a number of problems, including addiction — which, over time, makes the original symptoms (such as anxiety or depression) even worse. The risk-prone behavior that comes with addiction can also lead to new traumas.
Whether the incidents come from childhood or are more recent, unresolved trauma can register both in the body and in behavior. Some signs of include:
We believe that while treatment for trauma and PTSD are vital, it’s necessary to make sure you’re stable first. Most of the time, our clients begin with detox, so they can eliminate the substances from their systems. Our medical team is there to help you manage withdrawal symptoms safely as comfortably as possible..
As part of your individual treatment plan at Harbor Village, you can take advantage of trauma therapy, as well as other therapeutic options like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and rational emotive behavior therapy. Together, these therapies can help you achieve healing and balance — so your trauma no longer controls your emotions and behavior.
In a traumatic event or situation, your body responds by releasing stress hormones, which prevent your brain from processing the event. When we are triggered by something that reminds us of the trauma, the body reacts with a “fight or flight” response. While we are asleep and dreaming, meanwhile, our eyes dart back and forth quickly, which triggers the part of the brain that reprocesses the day’s memories. Trauma therapy uses EMDR (or eye movement desensitization reprocessing), which simulates those dreaming eye movements, stimulating the brain in order to reprocess the trauma. In combination with talk therapy, trauma therapy can help you heal and move forward.
Trauma therapy can be very intense and emotional, but it can provide a powerful sense of relief — both psychologically and physically.