Connecting Addiction and Trauma

Significant research connects trauma and addiction (also referred to as a substance use disorder). Data from most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health1 suggests as many as 22 million Americans met the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder in 2018. Sadly, drug and alcohol addictions are struggles that are not restricted by any demographic. Reservations individuals as young as age twelve it goes well into their 90s experienced substance use disorder symptoms. The same survey suggested that between 50 and 70% of the individuals who met the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder also struggled with a co- occurring mental health condition stemming from traumatic experiences.

trauma and addiction

PTSD and Addiction

A wild body of research indicates addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD are heavily intertwined conditions. Some studies suggest up to 50% of those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder4 also meet the diagnostic criteria for drug or alcohol use disorders. unfortunately, chronic struggles with emotional and psychological symptoms related to post traumatic stress disorder coupled with long term substance use disorders are not easily managed without the support and guidance of a professional addiction treatment environment. it is important to choose a treatment center like Hotel California by the Sea, where a team of treatment professionals specializing in dual diagnosis conditions can help you put addiction in the past and find safer, healthier ways to manage PTSD symptoms.

PTSD is a complex mental health condition resulting from trauma. The trauma can occur under many circumstances. For some individuals, it may stem from childhood traumas such as abuse, loss of a parent, or divorce. For others it might be related to witnessing or experiencing natural disasters, violence, or traumatic events as part of 1’s day-to-day employment. It is important to note that one does not need to be the victim of a trauma or direct witness to trauma to develop PTSD. It is possible (especially for younger children) to develop post-traumatic stress disorder by learning about traumatic experiences that occurred to someone they love such as a parent or sibling.

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Struggles with the overwhelming and often painful symptoms of PTSD often open the door to addiction. People looking to reduce the intensity and severity of PTSD symptoms will often turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication. By getting drunk or getting high, the unpleasant symptoms related to PTSD such as flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, paranoia, and intense overwhelming fear often subside. Unfortunately, the relief is short-lived and symptoms will return once the high or intoxication wears off. In an effort to continue dampening their symptoms, PTSD sufferers will turn to alcohol and drugs with greater intensity and greater frequency leading to dependency and addiction.

EMDR for Addiction

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is a form of therapy widely used to help manage symptoms of PTSD. It is a type of psychotherapy that was formerly used specifically to address trauma2 however, in recent years, use of EMDR has spread beyond trauma informed therapeutic approaches to address issues such as addiction. It is crucial for EMDR to be conducted by a highly trained therapist who understands the benefits but also the risks of the therapeutic model. EMDR encourages participants to focus on the memories that cause their trauma and in this case, lie at the roots of addiction.

Because therapeutic sessions are designed specifically to address painful and unpleasant memories, therapeutic sessions can be very intense period therefore, a high level of professionalism, compassion, and skill is required on the part of the provider. the goal of EMDR therapy is to help participants change Helen memories are “stored” in the brain. By learning different ways to address the memory, it reduces the ability for it to cause  the level of emotional distress that leads to self-medication and addiction.

It is important to note that while EMDR is a proven successful treatment for PTSD, its effectiveness for addiction treatment is still a subject of research. However, there is a strong body of evidence that suggests EMDR can help individuals struggling with several other mental health conditions (such as anxiety). Addiction shares many overlapping symptoms with mental health disorders and therefore, there could be many benefits to using EMDR for addiction therapy or co-occurring addiction and other mental health conditions.

Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea

We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

Many people who experience a traumatic event experience lasting mental health struggles. Without therapy mental health therapy, the experience of trauma can lead to a range of physical and mental health struggles that can worsen over time. It is not uncommon for symptoms to become so overwhelming that individuals turn to substances as a way to reduce the intensity and severity of their symptoms. Unfortunately, the relief provided by substance use does not last long, and symptoms often return stronger than before. Seeking professional treatment help is the safest and most effective way to overcome addiction. To learn more about how we can help, contact us at Hotel California by the Sea today.

References:

  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2018-nsduh-annual-national-report
  2. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/treatments/eye-movement-reprocessing
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5061320/
  4. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/cooccurring/tx_sud_va.asp