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Get Help Today. (800) 516-4357

Trauma Informed Therapy for Substance Use Disorders

Trauma and substance use disorders often go hand-in-hand. Traumatized individuals have a high rate of dependence on various substances like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, benzodiazepines and opiates.

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Trauma due to abuse and violence is shockingly common in the United States. The CDC estimates that 1 in 4 children suffers some form of abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual). Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 American women. One in five women has been raped at some point in her life. These sobering statistics indicate that a very large number of people in America experience serious trauma during their lifetime. Another problem that affects millions of Americans is addiction. Is there a link between trauma and addiction? And can Trauma Informed Therapy help people with a substance use disorder?

Trauma and substance abuse are undeniably linked. Some people are driven to addiction as a method of coping with severe trauma. Others lead a lifestyle of addiction which predisposes them to traumatic experiences. Oftentimes, the situation is complicated and it is impossible to tell what came first – trauma or addiction.

The National Survey of Adolescents found that teens who had experienced physical or sexual abuse or assault were three times more likely to report past or current substance abuse compared to those without a history of trauma.

At Boca Recovery Center, we understand the far-reaching effects that trauma can have on individuals battling substance use disorders. Our therapists practice trauma-focused therapy that recognizes and emphasizes the impact of traumatic experiences on a person’s addictive behaviors. If you or someone you love is a trauma survivor and struggling with substance abuse, get in touch with us on (855) 637-1331 to find out how Trauma Informed Therapy can help.

In this article, we give you information about trauma informed therapy and how it can help recovering addicts overcome their addiction.

What is trauma?

Trauma is anything that overwhelms or threatens an individual’s sense of safety. The definition of trauma varies from person to person. A forgettable incident for one person can cause a lifetime of haunting memories for someone else. For example, some children get over their parents’ divorce without any long-term consequences, whereas for others it is a traumatic experience with lifelong repercussions. Trauma can be a single event or a series of events over time.

Trauma has a significant impact on a person’s mental health and plays an important role in addiction. Many recovering addicts don’t identify themselves as trauma survivors. However, therapists at Boca Recovery Center are trained to recognize trauma and guide the recovery process with a trauma-informed approach.

How common is Trauma and Substance Use Disorder?

Trauma is one of the most common co-occurring disorders discovered during addiction rehab. There is a high prevalence of trauma in people with substance use disorders. For example, studies have shown that individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are five times more likely to enter drug rehab than the general population.

The therapists at Boca Recovery Center are specially trained to stabilize and treat the symptoms of trauma. Our alcohol and drug rehab programs are sensitized and geared to the unique needs of recovering addicts with a traumatic past. We utilize a structured approach known as trauma-informed care. The goal is to help people who have suffered trauma and are struggling with a dependency on drugs or alcohol.

What is Trauma Informed Therapy?

Trauma informed therapy is a treatment approach that utilizes the science of how human beings process trauma. The science is translated into clinical practice to help recovering addicts in their battle against substance abuse.

Trauma informed therapy at Boca Recovery Center assists recovering addicts in managing the symptoms of trauma. Our trauma-focused approach reduces the risk of re-traumatizing the client during addiction treatment. Therapists offer support and instill hope for recovery through trauma informed care.

We recognize that traumatic experiences can be overwhelming and at times, terrifying. Our therapists work with clients to restore a sense of safety and self-worth. This includes physical safety, trustworthiness, setting clear boundaries, transparency, and predictability. Clients rebuild their self-worth through respect, compassion, acceptance, and collaboration. Recovering individuals are empowered through skill building and coping strategies.

What to expect during Trauma Informed Therapy?

At Boca Recovery Center, we do not believe in forcing clients to disclose traumatic experiences before they are ready. We feel that processing past trauma before a person has developed sufficient coping skills can cause further harm. Instead, we focus on first establishing a sense of safety and stability. When the recovering individual is in a better place to start processing their trauma, we provide a supportive setting to accomplish this.

Various activities and strategies are used during the trauma informed addiction treatment process. The choice of activities depends on the client’s unique situation, such as their age at the time of trauma and the type of traumatic experience. Activities are planned to address painful memories and emotions as well as the resultant problematic behaviors. Therapy is provided sensitively in conjunction with relaxation techniques.

Goals of Trauma-Focused Therapy

The trauma-focused addiction recovery program at Boca Recovery Center has the following goals:

  • To realize that trauma has a widespread impact and understand the potential for recovery.
  • To recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in a recovering addict and their family.
  • To respond by integrating scientific knowledge about trauma into therapy procedures and practices.
  • To resist re-traumatization during the addiction recovery process.

By engaging in trauma-informed therapy at Boca Recovery Center, recovering individuals can gain a handle on their past experiences and address their problems with healthy coping skills.

The trauma-focused rehab program at Boca Recovery Center creates a safe space for clients to learn about the normal responses to trauma and its impact on their lives. This discovery is important to understand certain thoughts and behaviors, to give names to their experiences, and to remind clients that they are not alone in the journey of healing.

Stages of Trauma Informed Therapy

Re-establish safety

The first step in trauma informed therapy is to re-establish safety. Recovering addicts re-develop a sense of safety, both physical and emotional, through activities and discussions that target specific concerns.

Identify triggers

The next step in trauma focused therapy is the identification of triggers. Clients are encouraged to understand, explore, and express memories of their trauma. Over time, they learn to adapt their response to traumatic reminders or triggers.

Develop coping skills

An important stage in addiction treatment with trauma informed therapy is developing healthy coping skills. Therapy sessions help recovering addicts hone their coping skills and develop strategies to respond to traumatic memories.

Decrease trauma symptoms

Trauma informed therapists at Boca Recovery Center guide clients in anxiety management and relaxation techniques. These strategies help decrease symptoms of traumatic stress. Clients are encouraged to practice skills to manage anxiety, depression, shame, or guilt associated with trauma.

Practice trauma processing

The final step in trauma informed therapy for substance use disorders is to help the recovering individual regain control over past trauma. This is achieved by processing the experience and relating it to the larger picture.

Trauma Informed Therapy at Boca Recovery Center

Many recovering addicts do not volunteer information about past traumatic events due to feelings of guilt or shame. At Boca Recovery Center, all patients are screened for trauma. Our therapists are experienced in recognizing the signs and symptoms of past traumatic experiences. In addition to offering our trauma informed treatment program we are able to arrange EMDR therapy for clients when clinically indicated.

The trauma-informed rehabilitation program for alcohol and substance abuse at our facility utilizes a range of sensitive practices to develop a trusting relationship between client and therapist. Our approach to addiction recovery in trauma survivors is compassionate, understanding, and open-minded. We create a safe physical and emotional environment for recovering addicts to heal. Our customized addiction recovery plan addresses the unique needs of each patient. The goal is to enable trauma survivors to replace self-harming and addictive behaviors with self-care.

If you or someone you love could benefit from trauma informed therapy for addiction recovery, call us at Boca Recovery Center on (800) 516-4357. We can help you overcome negative experiences and move toward a life free of drugs and alcohol.

Updated April 20, 2023
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