Trauma therapy, also known as trauma-focused therapy or trauma-informed care, is a form of individual psychotherapy designed to manage the impact of traumatic events on people’s lives. Trauma therapy near Nashville helps people process traumatic events and the symptoms of trauma that have been known to follow such events.
The relationship between trauma and substance use disorder is a close one. As people choose to “self–medicate” with drugs and alcohol in order to escape or numb the negative thoughts and feelings developed in response to trauma, they may develop substance use disorder.
Freeman Recovery Center provides individualized trauma therapy to empower clients to address their past traumatic experiences at the same time as their addictive behaviors. In other words, trauma therapy is an essential tool in many clients’ recovery from substance use disorder.
Trauma is any kind of distressing event or experience that impacts a person’s ability to function. Trauma can result in emotional, physical, and psychological harm, particularly if left untreated.
Following a traumatic event, some typical emotions that occur include shock and denial. Long-term reactions to trauma can include flashbacks to the traumatic event, unpredictable emotions and mood swings, sleep disorders, strained relationships, and physical symptoms like headache or nausea.
Trauma comes in many forms. However, some common experiences that are considered traumatic include:
There are three main types of trauma: acute, chronic, and complex. All three types may require trauma therapy.
Acute trauma results from a single incident that is limited in duration and scope, such as a car accident or a natural disaster. Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged, such as domestic violence or coping with a terminal illness. Meanwhile, complex trauma is the exposure to multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature. Examples of complex trauma include sexual abuse or incest, chronic neglect or abandonment, or being held captive.
Whether it’s a motor vehicle accident or the unexpected death of a loved one, nearly everyone experiences trauma at some point in their life. However, not all people who experience a traumatic event develop symptoms in the same way. Some people’s symptoms are mild while others’ symptoms can be severe, requiring trauma therapy. Sometimes the negative emotional and psychological effects of a traumatic event do not develop until months or even years later.
Some common symptoms can be expected to occur following a traumatic event. Below are some common reactions to trauma:
Intrusive thoughts and memories. Following a traumatic event, it is common to experience intrusive thoughts and memories of the traumatic event. This is especially likely to occur when a person encounters an object, person, or image that reminds them of the traumatic event.
Hypervigilance. It is natural to feel more “on guard” and aware of one’s surroundings after a traumatic event. This is actually a protective symptom as the body attempts to keep itself safe by heightening awareness of potential threats and dangers. Such a natural safety mechanism operates with more sensitivity after a traumatic event.
Hyperarousal. It is also natural to feel more “on edge” following a traumatic event. This is again part of your body’s natural protection system. Following a traumatic event, the body’s tendency to feel fear and anxiety will be increased in attempts to protect itself from future trauma. As a result, places or situations that once felt secure now provoke fear and anxiety.
It is important to remember that experiencing these common symptoms following a traumatic event does not necessarily mean a person has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although such symptoms can be distressing, they are less severe than the symptoms of PTSD.
PTSD cannot be diagnosed until at least 30 days following a traumatic event. This is because many PTSD-like symptoms are actually part of the body’s natural response to trauma. For most people, these symptoms will gradually recede over time, whereas the symptoms grow more intense and severe in cases of diagnosed PTSD.
Meanwhile, the symptoms listed below can serve as signs that a person may be at risk of developing PTSD:
Loss of interest. It is important to keep an eye out for a person losing interest in activities they used to enjoy, in addition to feelings of detachment or alienation. This symptom suggests the person is at risk of depression.
Avoidance. Following a traumatic event, it is common to avoid certain situations, activities, and people. However, certain avoidance behaviors tend to reinforce themselves, as the belief that the world is unsafe intensifies. Avoidance can lead to a worsening of symptoms, evolving into full-blown PTSD.
Unhealthy coping behaviors. Just as avoidance of activities, situations, or people can be problematic, so can the avoidance of thoughts and feelings. As a result, people may rely on unhealthy coping strategies–including the abuse of substances–as a way of avoiding these thoughts and feelings.
Trauma and the symptoms of trauma are one of the most common co-occurring mental health disorders among people with substance use disorder. In fact, organizations that provide treatment for substance use disorder are more likely to have patients with co-occurring trauma than most other mental health-related symptoms and diagnoses.
Trauma therapy near Nashville enables patients to work through their past in order to overcome their substance use disorder. As the patient builds healthy coping skills to deal with past trauma, those coping skills can also be utilized to strengthen their addiction recovery.
Some people may not be aware of their trauma, especially if it happened at a very young age, so they may not receive the appropriate therapy during addiction treatment. Unfortunately, this can lead to a pattern of relapse. Understanding the benefits of trauma therapy can help you see how it may just be the key to lasting recovery. These benefits include:
Overcoming fear. A person may confront the source of their anxiety while in a safe space, guided by a trauma-informed therapist.
Increased confidence and self-efficacy. By learning how to regulate their emotions during stressful situations, a person will no longer feel victimized by their circumstances.
Stress reduction. Trauma triggers provoke fear and anxiety. Trauma therapy teaches patients stress management techniques and healthy coping skills to maintain calm.
Healthier thought patterns. A trauma-informed therapist guides the patient through the process of restructuring negative thoughts that keep them trapped in addictive behaviors. These restructured thoughts help the patient cultivate thoughts promoting safety and positivity.
Every guest at Freeman Recovery Center receives a thorough medical and psychological assessment, as well as support from our licensed medical and clinical staff to ensure that co-occurring diagnoses are addressed. Beginning with detox, our team treats both the substance use disorder and the underlying mental health disorder. If you or a loved one struggle with addiction or a mental health disorder, please contact us today.