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PTSD and Addiction Treatment

Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are common co-occurring mental health disorders that develop alongside substance addiction. According to the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Illness Administration, 75% of women and men in addiction treatment programs have experienced trauma at some point in their lives. 

PTSD and addiction are often diagnosed together and can have a tremendous impact on the recovery process from substance addiction. In order to best address issues of trauma and substance addiction, a comprehensive program should be implemented. Customized care plans should include intensive and rigorous treatments from PTSD and addiction treatment centers.


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At Hotel California by The Sea, addiction and trauma therapy provides a well-rounded treatment path for all patients. Our addiction experts understand the importance of a comprehensive program designed specifically for clients in need of trauma and addiction recovery. By including trauma-specific treatments, our clients have a better chance of maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is both an automatic bodily or emotional response to a disturbing or distressing event. It can cause problems with coping, a diminished sense of self, and an failure to regulate stressful emotions. Physical symptoms like headaches or nausea may also occur.

These feelings are normal emotions to have initially after a distressing incident. But those who have difficulty moving on with their lives after it has occurred, struggle with trauma. Trauma can be caused or triggered by many factors. Risk factors for trauma include sexual abuse, military combat, emotional abuse, physical abuse, violence or death of a loved one. 

The long-term effects of trauma usually go hand-in-hand with the development of an alcohol and substance use disorder. Traumatic experiences cause chemical changes in the brain. Some studies suggest trauma can activate genes in a person’s body that are associated with the development of mental illness. Trauma is a condition relative to its sufferer, meaning it manifests in different ways depending on the individual at hand. 

Is there a parallel between Addiction and Trauma Therapy?

PTSD and addiction often occur alongside each other. Research shows exposure to trauma during early childhood is a leading risk factor for developing an addiction to substances during adulthood. A person experiencing feelings of fear and other distressing emotions of PTSD is more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. They turn to substances to help them regulate, control their emotions and mask the pain of their traumatic experience. 

Clinical specialists at Hotel California by The Sea understand the importance of helping clients build effective emotional coping skills. This is especially prioritized when assisting patients through addiction and trauma therapy. Our PTSD and addiction treatment helps patients improve their ability to manage painful feelings and build a strong support network. The goal for our patients is to achieve a well-rounded approach to healing their trauma and substance abuse addiction.

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Signs to look for in Trauma and Addiction Recovery

Symptoms of PTSD can begin as early as three months after a traumatic incident has been experienced. And on the opposite spectrum, some symptoms can even occur as late as a year after the incident. A clinical diagnosis of trauma or PTSD is when an individual experiences the following indicators:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms disrupts a person’s daily routine and can include flashbacks, bad dreams or disturbing thoughts.
  • Avoidance symptoms cause a person to change up their daily routine. This can include staying away from certain places or events and avoiding feelings related to the traumatic experience. 
  • Arousal and reactivity symptoms include being easily startled and constantly feeling tense and on edge. 
  • Cognition and mood symptoms include having negative thoughts and distorted feelings and loss of interest in once enjoyable activities.

Signs and symptoms of trauma and PTSD can differ from person to person. It can also vary between men, women and young adults. At Hotel California by the Sea, trauma and addiction recovery programs specialize in PTSD and addiction. It is aimed at helping people across all spectrums through effective group and individual therapies

Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders are often associated with PTSD and Addiction

Addressing trauma-related addiction and PTSD is crucial to achieving long-term recovery from drugs and alcohol. Trauma can be a primary predictor for future substance abuse and other co-occurring mental health disorders.

It is important to treat both substance abuse disorders as well as mental health disorders. When they occur simultaneously, they can be a catalyst for one another. Therapies such as CBT, DBT and EMDR are often recommended treatments for those suffering from trauma and PTSD. 

Our comprehensive approach to Trauma and Addiction Recovery

In our addiction and trauma therapy at Hotel California by The Sea, we offer multiple levels of trauma-related addiction treatment. These treatments include medical detox, inpatient residential addiction treatment, outpatient programs and various continuing care services. A considerable amount of our clients enter our addiction treatment center with a history of trauma and undiagnosed PTSD. 

When patients enter our treatment program, they are assessed by both a medical physician and a licensed psychiatric professional. This helps diagnose any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be present. 

Long-term recovery from substance use disorder and addiction requires treatment that addresses all the diseases that exist alongside addiction. This includes ones caused by trauma and PTSD. Treatments used to help those suffering from PTSD and addiction include CBT, group therapy and grief and loss counseling. 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) helps patients manage painful emotions related to trauma and addiction. DBT is often used as a trauma treatment for addicts. 

Individuals will work on improving their ability to accept and be present in their current mood and situations. Individuals will work on the ability to tolerate negative emotions instead of trying to avoid them. Individuals will learn how to manage intense emotions. 

People with trauma-related addiction will learn and practice effective communication techniques. Patients are encouraged to use these skills with various relationships that have been strained due to their addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves helping patients change negative thinking patterns and negative behaviors related to their trauma and substance abuse. CBT can be very helpful for patients dealing with trauma and PTSD-related addiction. It encourages patients to re-evaluate their negative thinking patterns. CBT helps them confront events, thoughts and feelings related to their trauma and change them into a more positive or neutral mindset.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy)

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) helps patients heal from the emotional distress resulting from disturbing life experiences and events. This type of therapy is recommended for patients suffering from trauma and PTSD. It focuses on neutralizing past distressing events and memories related to a person’s addiction. 

EMDR patients work on changing the way distressing addiction-related memories are processed in the brain. This will ultimately reduce difficult symptoms associated with their trauma and substance abuse.

Grief and Loss Counseling

Grief and loss counseling is dedicated to helping patients heal in a healthy manner. This is completed through understanding and coping with the emotions they may be experiencing. There are five stages of grief that include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. 

Some of the common psychological symptoms of grief include disbelief, sadness, despair, guilt and anxiety. Physical symptoms can consist of weight loss or gain and insomnia. 

These are very normal symptoms to experience when initially dealing with grief and loss. Some people have difficulty coping and seek out professional help to overcome their emotions. This type of therapy is often used for trauma treatment for addicts suffering from co-occurring mental health disorders. 

Peer Support Groups and Group Therapy

Group therapy and peer support groups for trauma-related addiction treatment have proven to be significantly beneficial to recovery. They can help patients build a strong support system of like-minded peers experiencing similar obstacles throughout their own recovery journey. Patients suffering from trauma and substance abuse feel isolated from their friends, families and loved ones. Oftentimes they do not understand the intricacies of addiction and what clients may be facing throughout their recovery. 

Group therapy sessions are helpful for patients to receive feedback, offer insight and encouragement. Group members help hold each other accountable for their recovery. Peer support groups such as Anxiety Anonymous and Daily Strength work in a similar process. It allows patients to feel a part of a community working together toward healing and recovery.

Mindfulness techniques, Meditation, and other Holistic Practices

In a more holistic approach to trauma-related addiction treatment, practicing mindfulness and meditation can be effective in helping patients recover. Meditation helps create self-awareness that there is space between our thoughts and emotions. The negative feelings we have associated with our trauma and substance abuse doesn’t define us. It is possible to separate from those destructive emotions. 

Research has shown that trauma and PTSD can negatively alter the structures in our brain. PTSD specifically damages the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. This part of the brain is responsible for our fight-or-flight response. 

With meditation and the practice of mindfulness, this treatment can help repair this same part of the brain. This allows the brain to heal and bring it back to its normal functioning status. 

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Gender targeted PTSD and Addiction Treatment for Men

Men and women face different obstacles when dealing with PTSD and addiction. Therefore, personalized treatment plans are key to helping patients address underlying mental health disorders related to their substance addiction.

Due to social and cultural conditioning, many men believe they don’t need treatment for trauma. And seeking help will give off the perception of being weak and not masculine. Suppressing traumatic events or denying them all together can cause even further psychological damange. The trauma can turn into a catalyst for other mental health illnesses such as eating disorders, alcoholism and substance addiction. 

At Hotel California by The Sea, we offer gender specific treatment programs for men in two separate age groups. Each of these programs target the needs of the participants and the unique challenges they face in trauma addiction treatment. Therapies such as CBT, EMDR therapy and group therapy are especially helpful in helping individuals understand their addictions and heal.

In male specific programs, men are surrounded by a safe and structured environment. In this setting, they are more open to understanding their co-occurring mental health disorders and how it affects their addiction. In our trauma related addiction treatments, physicians, psychiatrists and case managers, will work with patients to address their gender specific needs. Together with the patient, they will identify recovery goals and how to achieve them. 

PTSD Addiction treatment developed uniquely for Females

Women are more likely to experience traumatic events in childhood, adulthood and throughout their active addiction. Some of this trauma includes sexual and relationship trauma. Being in treatment around men can oftentimes be triggering for female patients. 

At Hotel California by the Sea, our exclusively female treatment program offers a specialized treatment track for women suffering from PTSD and addiction. In this program, women can sort through their trauma and substance abuse issues. Women can meet with private therapists two to three times a week and begin healing with the support of their peers. 

Intensive therapies such as CBT, DBT and EMDR therapy help our female patients understand how underlying trauma affects their substance addiction. Females will also learn effective coping techniques to help them manage emotional, stressful and triggering feelings. These distressing thoughts and emotions are often associated with trauma and addiction. 

The levels of care for trauma-related addiction treatment include medical detox, residential treatment programs, PHP, IOP and various aftercare services. Our PTSD and addiction program aims to help patients maintain a high quality of life free from substance abuse. 

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Get Help at our PTSD and Addiction Treatment Centers

Addiction doesn’t discriminate and neither does trauma. Hotel California by The Sea approaches PTSD and addiction with evidenced-based expertise, effective treatment therapies and compassionate care. 
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or trauma, call our admissions team. At our PTSD and addiction treatment centers, learn more about treatment options and what you can do to start healing today. Our trauma informed care addresses the entirety of a person’s well-being. We work to help patients physically and psychologically recover from their addiction

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