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Archive for the ‘Trauma and Addiction’ Category

Trauma (Part 2): Symptoms of Trauma and Effective Therapies

Monday, March 14th, 2016


By Family Therapist, Judi Jenett

Family Therapist, Judi Jenett | The Treatment Center blog

In Part 1 of the trauma blog series, I explained how complex trauma, adversity early in life, and untreated psychological trauma is often the root of addiction.

In Part 2 of this blog, we explore the symptoms of trauma and effective therapies that have been scientifically proven to help trauma survivors cope better.

Symptoms of Trauma

In severe cases, the person who has been harmed as a result of a deep rooted trauma may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is characterized by recurrent, unwanted distressing thoughts and flashbacks.

Symptoms of changes in emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) include irritability, explosive outbursts and aggressive behavior. Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulties in concentration
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Constant feelings of danger

Self-destructive behaviors such as drinking too much or driving too fast as a way of anesthetizing the pain may become a daily occurrence. Life may become unbearable to the point of such despair that suicide may seem to be the only way out.

Reaching Out for Help

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, reach out for help straight away. Contact your doctor, mental health provider or other health care professional. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline here in the United States is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) trained counselors will be standing by.

Remember, with the right treatment, self-help strategies, and support, you can speed your recovery. Whether the traumatic event happened years ago or yesterday, you can heal and move on. Using mood-altering substances will not help you work through your pain, working through trauma will, and this requires courage and commitment.

Evidence-based Treatment Methods

Some of the modalities incorporated in the treatment of trauma symptoms include:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health problems. Scientific and evidence based research has established EMDR as an effective treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Clinicians have also reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:

  • Addictions
  • Pain disorders
  • Complicated grief
  • Panic attacks
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Disturbing memories
  • Phobias
  • Performance anxiety
  • Stress reduction
  • Sexual and/or physical abuse
  • Body dysmorphic disorders
  • Personality disorders


Hypnotherapy is a form of complementary therapy that utilizes the power of positive suggestion to bring about subconscious change to our thoughts, feelings and behavior. The subconscious mind is considered to be the source or root of many of our behaviors, emotions, attitudes and motivations.

Experiential Workshops

Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience and involves actions, movements and activities rather than the more traditional “talk therapy.” This approach encourages patients to identify and address hidden or subconscious issues through activities such as role-playing, guided imagery, the use of props, and a range of other active experiences.

One of the many advantages of experiential therapy is that the experiences and activities that form the core of the process provide opportunities for the therapist to observe patients in situations where the patients are not focused on the therapy itself. Change, emotional growth, and personal empowerment are among the benefits of participating in an effective experiential therapy workshop.

Group Therapy

Probably the biggest advantage of group therapy is that it helps a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have similar problems. This is often a revelation and a huge relief to the person.

Patients listen to each other and openly provide feedback; these interactions give patients an opportunity to increase understanding, try out new ways of being with others and learn more about the ways they interact. Most people find that they have important things in common with other group members, and as others work n concerns, they in turn can learn much more about themselves.

Vibroacoustic Therapy

Vibroacoustic therapy combines the physical vibrations of relaxing music with the vibrations of Pulsed Low Frequency Sine Tones. The process of Vibroacoustic therapy involves the use of recorded music, played through an amplifier and delivered to the body via a Vibroacoustic bed or chair. The physical vibrations of both the music and the low frequency sine tone are felt in the body and promote a feeling of calm. This form of therapy is a safe, drug-free, non-invasive approach to reducing pain, hyperactivity, stress and anxiety.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a safe and effective way to soothe physical pain and to manage stress. Trauma survivors need to feel safe, valued, in control, and open enough to be intimate with boundaries and trustful with others. Massage therapy provides a comfortable and relaxed setting to help trauma survivors manage their symptoms. While massage therapy can trigger traumatic memory, it’s also a powerful healing tool to help patients grow and thrive through healthy nurturance, intimacy with boundaries, and loving touch.

Receive Holistic Services at Restore

The Treatment Center recognizes the importance of an integrative program that treats both substance abuse and the accompanying trauma that often exists. Patients can receive hypnotherapy, vibroacoustic therapy, massage therapy, and chiropractic care from highly trained therapists at Restore, our holistic care center. The staff at Restore understands that recovering from trauma combined with chemical addiction takes time.

Patients need time to heal and to mourn the losses they have experienced. If you have been exposed to a traumatic event/s during childhood and beyond and have turned to drugs and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism, please reach out to an admission counselor today and call 877-392-3342. They are available to answer any questions you may have about our services.

To make an appointment at Restore, call (561) 402-7222 or for more information reach out to our Director of Holistic Therapies, Erin Runhaar-Cobas at [email protected] The staff at Restore is here to help the community thrive in recovery.

Trauma (Part 1): An Often Overlooked Root of Addiction

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016


By Family Therapist, Judi Jenett

Family Therapist, Judi Jenett | The Treatment Center blog

The very word trauma evokes images of major events such as war, rape, kidnapping, and abuse. Natural disasters such as floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and windstorms affect thousands of people every year, causing loss of life, loss of home and leaving economic damage in their wake.

When traumatic experiences occur, they often leave mental and physical scars that may feel impossible to overcome. Our sense of safety and predictability is challenged and this may trigger strong physical and emotional reactions.

The Truth about Complex Trauma

Complex trauma describes the dual problem of children’s exposure to traumatic events that occur within the caregiving system, the social environment that is supposed to be the source of safety and stability in a child’s life. Early experiences such as emotional abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse, witnessing unpredictable domestic violence and repeated abandonment, often leave a child unable to develop appropriate language and verbal skills.

Children whose parents continuously dismiss or reject them learn to disregard or distrust their emotions, relationships and even their own bodies. Parental invalidation generates helplessness and hopelessness. The connection (bond) between a parent and a child is broken; the child is then forced to act “as though the trauma never happened.”

Exposure to Adversity Early in Life

Other traumatic events such as losing a parent to death or divorce can also leave emotional and psychological scars. Growing up in an alcoholic or addicted home or in any other environment where children are taught to bury their feelings causes intense feelings of fear and pain.

Children who have been exposed to severe adversity early in life are at increased risk of developing mental health problems, including drug and alcohol dependence. What happens within the family unit early in a child’s life will have a huge influence over them later in life.

Self-medicating with Drugs and Alcohol

What most of these young people have in common is the wide range of psychoactive substances used to self-medicate, a way of drowning out emotional and psychological pain. This form of mood management can and often does lead to addiction and the disease of addiction is progressive.

Drug and alcohol use allows a person to disconnect from their feelings rather than think about or relive the traumatic event. By using drugs, alcohol or other substances, feelings of fear and powerlessness, depression and those ever-present intrusive memories are dampened. Likewise, guilt or rage is avoided, thus the cycle of addictive or impulsive behavior begins.

When Psychological Trauma Goes Untreated

The effects of untreated psychological trauma can be devastating and infiltrate nearly every aspect of an individual’s life. Trauma disrupts the body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you into a state of hyperarousal and fear.

The nature of the traumatic event, the level of social and emotional support, past traumatic experiences, ones personality type, and the presence or non-presence of sound coping skills plays a large role in whether one will be more susceptible to trauma.

It is not a sign of emotional weakness or a character flaw to have flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, sleep difficulties or tremendous stress after witnessing a serious accident; debilitation from illness or injury; bullying; separation from home or loved one; incarceration; serious illness; loss of a loved one.

Complex trauma in early childhood can affect adults later in life. In part 2 of this blog, we will explore some of the symptoms of trauma and the feelings that are often attached to traumatic events and situations. Also revealed are some healthy coping mechanisms and therapeutic methods for survivors of trauma.

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