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.
History of Trauma
If you have suffered through a traumatic event like witnessing or personally experience violence or were the victim of child abuse, the likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder such as PTSD is increased.
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. It has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being. While every person experiences adverse experiences in their life, a traumatic event is something the brain is not able to process.
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 develop 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.
What Happens in an Individual Therapy Program?
Typically, you will meet with your therapist at least once a week, and sessions will last about an hour. The sessions will take place in a comfortable, private space. We recommend the following mental health therapies for people working to overcome the effects of trauma:
Effects of Trauma
The effects of traumatic events and violence are things that people use drugs and alcohol to medicate or numb; therefore, learning to deal with that pain should be the main focus of ongoing treatment and recovery efforts. The vast majority of people with severe substance use disorder have also experienced trauma. Those who experience PTSD show symptoms in a variety of ways, including but not limited to a re-experience 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. Being unable to cope with experiences that remind a person of trauma is an indication that treatment is needed.
Treatment for PTSD and Addiction
No matter the cause of the PTSD and addiction dual diagnosis, 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 the criteria of current PTSD and tend to have poorer results from their treatment if they don’t address their trauma. “Trauma-informed treatment must guide everything in holistic recovery. “Substance dependence within itself is a trauma,” said Jessica Loper, clinical director of the Atlanta Center for Mental Health. “The Adverse Childhood Experience Scale (ACE) is one of the most empirically validated and longitudinally sound instruments in existence that has captured the detrimental tie between trauma before age 18 and addiction. Any score on this 10-item scale makes a person four times more likely to use drugs or alcohol for coping and a score of 5 or more increases the risk of early mortality, IV drug use, and legal involvement exponentially. The story does not end there.
PTSD Is a Treatable Condition
The implications for treatment are clear, get to the core/heart of what is driving the need to self-medicate. Then, allow a person the consistent structure, support, and love while providing that resolution and hope; that’s the birthplace of recovery.” If you or a loved one has experienced trauma and has turned to drugs or alcohol to cope, you are not alone, and there is help.
Trauma Therapy and Addiction
The easiest way to recover from alcoholism is to seek help. Call the Atlanta Center for Mental Health department to start treatment today. You are more than welcome to reach our admissions team by calling 833.625.0458 to learn about our addiction and mental health treatment options and determine which one is right for you. The Atlanta Center for Mental Health is a subsidiary of TruHealing 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.