Over the last few years, we've come to understand how common trauma is in the everyday lives of people – especially those struggling with addiction. There's also greater awareness of the profound impacts trauma has on a person’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Children experience trauma far more often than we have previously recognized.
Besides the universally acknowledged sources of trauma such as assaults or abuse, there are many additional sources of trauma that can lead to negative impacts. Some of these experiences include medical procedures, falls and concussions, natural disasters, and relational traumas as well as growing up in a family where there was parental addiction, mental health issues, high levels of conflict, or unresolved parental trauma or grief.
At Carrie DeJong & Associates, we are passionate about providing the support needed to help people recover from difficult life experiences. Whether your symptoms have resulted from a specific overwhelming experience or an accumulation of traumatic stress from numerous life events, therapy can help you feel more like yourself again.
Symptoms including anxiety, numbness, addiction behaviours, and sleep difficulties are signs of an overwhelmed nervous system.
Our nervous system is designed to self-regulate & bring itself back into balance, even after traumatic events. The opportunity for healing exists.
the trauma & addiction connection
Research shows trauma and chronic stress make a significant contribution to a person’s struggle with substance use and addiction. Substance use and other compulsive behaviours can become a way to manage the overwhelming experiences of trauma - they often begin as a way to numb painful memories and self-medicate anxiety, shame, or anger. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana, or opiates can bring “relief” to overwhelming trauma symptoms.
But reliance on mood-altering substances or behaviours as coping tools only adds to the initial trauma symptoms by creating more problems and more negative consequences. Relational consequences, health issues, financial difficulties, accidents, or legal problems can then lead to a greater need to mood-alter creating the vicious cycle of trauma and addiction.
safely addressing Trauma & Addiction
For those in early recovery from addiction, the initial focus is helping create safety including safety around substance abuse. Initially, therapy focuses on understanding the connection between trauma, trauma symptoms and the use of mood-altering substances. It offers tools to help calm the nervous system and cope with trauma triggers. Therapy is also about identifying and building healthy support systems as well as learning new coping strategies long before a deeper exploration of any traumatic experience occurs.
For anyone on a journey into greater health and recovery, it may be important to acknowledge the powerful impact that trauma and stress have had on your life and your struggle with addiction. It is equally important to help you connect to the resources that will help you achieve not only freedom from addiction but also freedom from the pain and negative impacts of trauma.
People with PTSD are four times more likely to develop problems with substance misuse than those without it.