Over the last number of years, we have become more aware of how common trauma is in the everyday lives of people – especially for those struggling with addiction. There is also a greater understanding of the profound impacts that 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 sources of trauma that are universally acknowledged such as assaults or abuse, there are many other 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.
As a therapist, I am very interested in helping people recover from difficult life experiences. Our nervous system is designed to self-regulate and bring itself back into balance, even after traumatic events. Symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, emotional numbness, persistent pain, and addiction behaviours are signs of an overwhelmed nervous system. 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.
The opportunity for healing does exist.
the trauma and addiction connection
Research clearly shows that trauma and chronic stress make a significant contribution to a person’s struggle with substance abuse and addiction. People with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are four times more likely to develop problems with substance abuse than those without it. Substance abuse and other compulsive behaviours can become a way to manage the overwhelming experiences of trauma. These behaviours often begin as a coping mechanism – 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 the 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, financial difficulties, health issues, accidents, or legal problems can then lead to a greater need to mood-alter creating the vicious cycle of trauma and addiction.
trauma and addiction therapy
If you are seeking support for addiction issues and unresolved trauma is a contributing factor, I can offer support. For those in early recovery from addiction, the initial focus is helping create safety including safety around substance abuse. As a person addresses their addiction, they enhance their sense of safety by learning tools to calm their nervous system and cope with trauma triggers. Initially, therapy focuses on understanding the connection between trauma, trauma symptoms and the use of mood-altering substances. 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. It is my goal to create a safe, supportive environment for you to address all important aspects of your past experiences and the impacts it has on addictive patterns of behaviour.
Therapy can help you discover your inner strengths and develop
the resources to overcome the effects of trauma in your life.