Many people who enter alcohol and drug treatment have endured trauma in their past. Some experiences of emotional and/or physical pain involve an isolated event, while others occur over a period of time. Whether the trauma occurred recently or many years ago, it can have a life-changing impact on the victim. The effects of distress need to be kept in mind when designing an effective addiction treatment plan for a trauma victim.
Understanding Trauma in Alcohol and Drug Treatment
The term “trauma” is used to describe a situation or experience that is distressing and emotionally painful. A traumatic experience is overwhelming for the victim and leaves them feeling unable to cope. Such distress may include sexual or physical assault, serious accidents, combat experiences and rape. It may also encompass less-obvious experiences, such as neglect and emotional abuse. The impact of trauma is an intensely individual experience. Two individuals may react to the same traumatic event in very different ways.
What is Trauma-informed Addiction Treatment?
A trauma-informed approach to addiction treatment doesn’t just treat an individual’s substance addiction. It also acknowledges the consequences of trauma and encourages healing.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defined six key principles that define a trauma-informed approach to treatment:
- Transparency and trustworthiness
- Peer support
- Mutuality and collaboration
- Voice, choice, and empowerment
- Historical, cultural and gender issues
Trauma-informed care is based on the assumption that many individuals receiving treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse have a history of trauma that may contribute to their substance abuse. This approach, which is the basis for the drug addiction program at The Discovery House, emphasizes the need to screen for trauma at the beginning of treatment and provide information about trauma throughout the course of rehabilitation.
Benefits of Trauma-Informed Care
Trauma can play a significant role in a person’s struggle with substance abuse. Acknowledging the impact of distress in a client’s life allows specialists to treat the client more effectively. A traditional treatment approach might ask a client “What’s wrong with you?” while a trauma-informed approach asks “What happened to you?”
In a trauma-informed treatment program, clients are respected for their resilience and survival in the face of trauma, and they are given the chance to actively participate in their treatment. This level of empowerment and control helps balance the loss of control that many individuals feel as a consequence of their suffering.
Trauma-informed Care vs. Trauma-focused Treatment
It’s easy to confuse the concepts of trauma-informed care and trauma-focused treatment. Trauma-informed care is a holistic concept that considers the impact of emotional distress across all aspects of treatment. However, this approach is not intended to treat the actual symptoms of trauma.
Trauma-focused treatments, on the other hand, include evidence-based therapeutic techniques that have been proven to heal the effects of trauma. These treatment methods are designed to directly treat the physical and psychological consequences of trauma. Although the two concepts are quite different in intent and execution, they both focus on creating feelings of safety and empowerment in the trauma survivor.
Get Help With Addiction Today
Your initial assessment will include special attention to any symptoms or history of trauma, and their trauma-informed approach will ensure that the consequences of your distress are addressed during the course of your alcohol and drug treatment. With personalized, comprehensive substance abuse treatment, you will be provided with the best possible tools for long-term recovery.
Call Adjustments Family Services now at 805-210-8448 to get started on the road to your recovery and a life of abstinence.
1 “What is EMDR?” EMDR Institute – EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING THERAPY. Accessed 7 Nov. 2017.
2 “Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT).” American Psychological Association. Accessed 7 Nov. 2017.
3 “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers. Accessed 7 Nov. 2017.