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Treating Trauma is Paramount in Treating Addiction

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Experiencing or being exposed to violence is one of the leading causes of trauma. We all experience trauma differently. For some it could have been from sustaining an injury during a car accident. For others it could be from experiencing military combat. Others could have been subjected to physical, emotional or sexual abuse. As much as 70 percent of the general population has experienced some form of individual trauma. 

International Day of Non-Violence takes place each year on October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, a leader in the movement of peaceful philosophy and strategy and of the Indian independence movement. Its commemoration was established in 2007 to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.” 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines trauma as the result of “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual that is physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.” 

What is PTSD?

Immediately following a traumatic event, the brain experiences an increased level of endorphins which help to numb both emotional and physical pain.  When the endorphin level gradually falls, the individual who experienced the traumatic event will likely feel emotional distress. The withdrawal from endorphins is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  

Close to eight percent of the traumatized population will experience PTSD and as much as two-thirds of that population develops a substance use disorder. One hypothesis is that alcohol consumption and drug use are meant to compensate for the endorphin deficiency experienced after a traumatic event. 

“The effects of trauma and violence, are things that people use drugs and alcohol to medicate or numb out, so learning to deal with that pain should be a main focus of ongoing treatment and recovery efforts,” said Rachel Markus, LCSW, the clinical director of Foundations Recovery Center. “I’ve only had a handful of clients in substance abuse treatment throughout my career who were not in some way affected by trauma.” 

Those who experience PTSD show symptoms in a variety of ways including but not limited to a reexperience of the traumatic event in the form of flashbacks or nightmares, hyper-arousal and heightened responses to being startled, estrangement from the external world, and avoidance of people, places and situations that might remind them of their traumatic event.  

Treatment for PTSD and Addiction

No matter what the cause of the PTSD and addiction dual diagnosis is, it is important that each condition be treated, as one will likely exacerbate the other. As much as half of the population that seeks treatment for substance use disorders meet criteria of current PTSD and tend to have poorer results from their treatment if they don’t address their trauma. 

If you or a loved one has experienced trauma and have turned to drugs or alcohol to cope, you are not alone and there is help.  

At Foundations Recovery Center, we can treat these co-occurring disorders by getting the drugs and/or alcohol out of your system during medical assisted detox, and addressing underlying emotional issues in long-term group therapy aftercare.  

The easiest way to recover from alcoholism and drug addiction is to seek help. Call an admissions specialist today at 833-216-3079 to learn about our addiction treatment options and determine which one is right for you.  

Foundations Recovery Center is a subsidiary of Amatus Recovery Centers, a division of Amatus Health, which offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country. To learn more visit amatusrecoverycenters.com.