Most people who have walked into a treatment center for either a primary mental health disorder or substance use disorder have experienced some kind of trauma in their lives. A majority of people will experience trauma within their lifetimes, either directly or vicariously, like watching a terrorist attack (or even news coverage of a terrorist attack) on television. Only a small portion of people who experience some form of trauma will experience fully diagnosable PTSD or any symptoms of PTSD. Coping with PTSD can usually lead to the development of other disorders including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and substance use disorders. Trying to treat any kind of mental health disorder, including substance use disorders, without fully assessing trauma could be like putting a Band-Aid over a gunshot wound. You might be able to stop the bleeding, but you won’t have retrieved the bullet.
Dealing with Trauma
Trauma can make matters worse with mental health disorders. Substance use disorders can be pushed to their extremes as someone attempts to live with traumatic memories, flashbacks, and nightmares. Even during sobriety, untreated trauma can cause psychological discomfort so severe that it inspires the obsessive rumination of drugs or alcohol, spiking cravings.
Ongoing feelings of anxiety, anxiety attacks, and symptoms of anxiety that has not yet been associated with trauma can be triggering for the trauma. Traumatic events are often described as being violent and out of one’s control. Anxiety feels out of control when thoughts and fears go running without regulation. It is easy for a stream of anxious thoughts to trigger traumatic memories.
Treating trauma is done through psychotherapy and other methods which can include EMDR, somatic experiencing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and holistic healing. Trauma lives in the mind and the body, drastically affecting the spirit. By treating trauma as a necessary part of any mental health or substance use disorder, there is a greater chance for recovery and total healing.
If you or a loved one might be living with untreated trauma and are struggling to cope with a substance use disorder, call Avalon By The Sea today. We are here to help you heal. Our residential treatment programs provide primary dual diagnosis care for both trauma and substance abuse. For a confidential assessment, call 1 888-958-7511.