For many people who develop a drug or alcohol addiction, their disorder can often be traced back to past traumatic experiences. Although you may think that dealing with trauma can be risky during addiction treatment, it is the only path to recovery. Processing trauma helps you deal with negative emotions to prevent relapse. Including healing methods from trauma during addiction treatment gives you the best chance for recovery success.
Understanding the Health Hazards Brought by Untreated Trauma
Traumatic experiences can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that requires targeted interventions to overcome. Untreated PTSD can even change your temperament or state of mind to the extent that you can suffer from anxiety, depression, and other disorders. This is because traumatic stress significantly affects the brain.
The health hazards of traumatic experiences often worsen over time because you might carry past trauma through different stages of life without healing from it. You may not even recognize the relationship between your current mental health or substance use problems and past traumatic experiences.
Identifying Signs of Past Trauma
Central to the impact of traumatic experiences is a sense of pessimism, anxiousness, and helplessness. If you have experienced trauma, you may generally not feel safe or peaceful. You may then choose to isolate yourself, which may be easier at the moment, but worsens your mental health in the long run.
Trauma may also change your idea of self-identity and how the world works. This disruption has a ripple effect on all other aspects of life. For example, your emotional state can deteriorate and cause relationship difficulties. Additionally, it could be challenging to perform well at work due to loss of concentration and cognitive problems.
Experience unexplained emotional and mental difficulty in everyday activities or struggle to understand your reactions to certain situations or stimuli. It could be a result of trauma that has been left to fester. Luckily, there are ways to overcome these distressing effects.
Common Pathways to Trauma Healing
Because trauma is a complicated issue, everyone’s pathway to healing is different. In general, the first step is to restore a sense of safety and trust in others. It can take months or years for acutely traumatized individuals to regain a sense of security in their bodies.
Another essential component of trauma healing is emotional regulation. If you have PTSD, you can easily experience emotional overwhelm triggered by similar scenarios or incidents. Therefore, you need professional support to begin the healing journey. The best way to do this is to work with a trauma-informed therapist who can help you identify and process negative emotions.
As a trauma survivor, you can experience many benefits through therapy, including more awareness about your emotional state and needs, better anger management, self-validation, and positive socialization.
Stages of Trauma Healing and Recovery
In general, trauma healing takes place in a few stages. First, you begin identifying your trauma-related state. Next, with the help of therapists and treatments, your brain begins to process past trauma and figure out what happened. Unfortunately, these initial stages may bring up many intense emotions and intrusive memories.
The third stage is a turning point when you examine the traumatic experience and reckon with its impact on your life. You also decide on how to move forward. Next, take steps to change your life and cope with trauma symptoms.
The final stage of trauma healing is regaining a sense of control and becoming experienced in coping skills. This does not mean that past trauma no longer affects you. It is simply a stage when past trauma no longer controls your life.
To get to this point, you must build a support system around yourself. Reach out to friends and family instead of isolating yourself. Re-open lines of communication that allow you more freedom of emotional expression. Most importantly, seek trauma-informed care from mental health experts.
Emotional Expressions as a Pathway for Trauma Healing
More freedom in emotional expressions is key because most people who suffer from past trauma tend to avoid the root cause or minimize its impact. Emotional numbness is a protection mechanism; though it doesn’t heal the wound, it only covers it up.
Allow yourself to express your emotions more freely. Instead of feeling guilty about these emotions, you should validate and fully understand why you need this space. Practicing self-compassion is a form of self-care. When you externalize thoughts and feelings, you loosen their grip on you and take away some of their power over you.
Whole-Body Mindful Self-Care
Human beings are embodied in existence on the planet. Begin practicing self-care by noticing the needs of your body, mind, and spirit. When signs of past trauma re-emerge, ask yourself, “What does my body need right now?” or, “What do these emotions reveal about my needs?”
The human body may store trauma but can also release trauma-related tension. Learn to establish safety and mind-body balance. Try holistic therapies such as movement therapy and somatization. While you shouldn’t put yourself in situations that risk re-traumatizing you, you can work to reverse the effects of trauma by cultivating safety in difficult things by welcoming them alongside someone with whom you feel comfortable. Empowering yourself in these ways is a great form of self-care.
Trauma is a complicated phenomenon that can be related to substance addiction. Untreated traumatic stress is often a root cause of substance use disorder. Luckily, both conditions are treatable. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff know the value of using a trauma-informed approach to addiction recovery. We will walk alongside you to offer support and guidance. Helping you overcome emotional and mental health challenges due to past traumatic experiences is just as important as helping you get sober. Both must be done together to achieve true and lasting healing. Call us today at (954) 329-1118 to discover how you can be part of our community.