When someone struggles with substance abuse and addiction, they have likely faced traumatic experiences in the past. If an individual has experienced trauma without receiving proper mental health treatment, they will experience an array of psychological effects. This includes low self-esteem, impulsivity, difficulty with trust, and even the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dealing with the lasting effects of trauma often leads individuals to begin self-medicating their uncomfortable feelings. This is what causes the co-occurrence of trauma and addiction.
The National Institutes of Health reports, “In surveys of adolescents receiving treatment for substance abuse, more than 70% of clients had a history of trauma exposure.”
When an individual is struggling with unresolved trauma and addiction, they must receive professional treatment for both issues. If the person receives treatment for their addiction without addressing their past trauma, it is likely for them to begin self-medicating once again. Thankfully, dual diagnosis treatment centers were created for this very reason.
What is the Relationship Between Trauma and Addiction?
Everyone has heard of marijuana being referred to as the “gateway drug.” However, research has led experts to begin calling trauma the true gateway to drug and alcohol addiction. With trauma being one of the leading risk factors for addiction, it’s easy to see why trauma has been coined as the “gateway drug.”
Important statistics on the relationship between trauma and addiction:[2,3,4]
- Teens who have experienced physical or sexual abuse are 3x more likely to report previous or current substance abuse than their peers.
- More than 70% of adolescents in substance abuse treatment programs have a history of trauma exposure.
- Nearly 60% of young people with PTSD struggle with substance abuse
When someone experiences trauma at a young age, it can be extremely difficult to deal with. They have not yet developed the healthy coping mechanisms needed to properly address trauma. Without professional treatment, young people who experience trauma are likely to develop PTSD, leading them to self-medicate through the use of substances. This is why trauma often leads to the development of addiction.
How Do Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers in New Jersey Treat Trauma and Addiction?
Dual diagnosis treatment centers were developed for individuals who suffer from co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders are defined as a dual diagnosis of addiction and a secondary mental health condition.
When it comes to dual diagnosis treatment for trauma and addiction, clients will be treated for both conditions simultaneously. The trauma will be addressed using evidence-based therapies for trauma, also known as trauma-informed care. In addition, the lasting effects of addiction and unresolved trauma will be treated through a combination of holistic treatment, behavioral therapies, and more.
When it comes to treating comorbid trauma and addiction, trauma-informed care is of the utmost importance. Trauma-informed care focuses on the causes of an individual’s behaviors, rather than the behavior itself. This allows clients to address the traumatic experiences that led to the development of their substance use disorder.
According to SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care (NCTIC), trauma-informed care was created to accomplish the following:
- Realize the widespread impact of trauma and understand paths for recovery;
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, and staff;
- Integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
- Actively avoid re-traumatization.
These beliefs are integrated throughout one’s dual diagnosis treatment program.
Adventure therapies are used for both the treatment of trauma and addiction. Adventure therapy allows clients to engage in a fun, sober activity that challenges them physically and mentally. These activities help clients learn how to work together as a team, believe in themselves, and overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. This improves trauma-related symptoms such as trust issues, poor self-esteem, and builds the strength and resilience one needs to overcome addiction.
Examples of adventure therapies used in dual diagnosis treatment programs include:
- Kayaking and canoeing
- Rock climbing
- Obstacle courses
- Skiing or snowboarding
Holistic treatments are utilized during dual diagnosis recovery programs to relieve the lasting symptoms of trauma. For example, individuals with a history of trauma often suffer from issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. Holistic treatments are natural approaches to treating physiological and psychological issues, making this form of treatment effective for trauma and addiction recovery.
Examples of holistic therapies used for trauma and addiction treatment include:
- Acupuncture and massage
- Meditation and mindfulness practices
- Reiki or other forms of energy work
- Biofeedback and neurofeedback
- Nutrition therapy
There are a few types of therapies used to treat trauma during a dual diagnosis treatment program. Most of these tactics focus on processing the trauma as well as teaching the client how to identify and subsequently manage their triggers. In other words, trauma therapies help clients develop healthy coping mechanisms that are specific to their individual needs.
Trauma therapies used in dual diagnosis addiction treatment programs include:
- Pharmacotherapy for the management of symptoms
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to treat lasting symptoms of trauma and PTSD
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for the development of positive coping mechanisms, identifying triggers, radical acceptance, and learning self-soothing tactics.
- Psychodynamic therapy for processing trauma
- Group therapy for processing trauma, building social skills, trust exercises, and learning coping mechanisms from peers
Find Dual Diagnosis Treatment in New Jersey Today
If you or a loved one experienced trauma in the past that has caused the development of a substance use disorder, dual diagnosis treatment in New Jersey can help. By combining evidence-based addiction treatment methods, trauma-informed care, and holistic therapies, Moving Mountains Recovery Center can provide you with the healing you deserve.
Contact us today for more information on how to begin the process of healing.