How Trauma Therapy Can Transform Your Recovery
Most people struggling with addiction have a history of trauma. Getting sober is the first step, but healing trauma is what sustains well-being.
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Trauma hurts. It hurts with intense ferocity, like the most painful itch that can’t be adequately scratched. Left alone, trauma festers into creating a wild mind of its own, into something bigger and scarier than seemingly manageable.
Most people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction have a history of trauma. While getting sober is the first step towards cultivating a new life, healing trauma creates sustained well-being.
Let’s get into how trauma therapy can transform your recovery.
What is Trauma Therapy?
Trauma therapy is an umbrella term that refers to the process of identifying, exploring, and processing one’s trauma. Experienced, trauma-informed professionals teach clients how to cope with their symptoms and develop new pathways for healing.
That said, there are numerous types of therapeutic modalities. Some clinicians prefer a long-term format (throughout several months or years), while others employ short-term strategies like prolonged exposure therapy.
The typical goals of therapy include:
Improving or reducing symptoms (flashbacks, panic attacks, avoidance)
Learning skills to manage stressors (meditation, positive affirmations)
Improving and rebuilding self-esteem
Why Is Trauma Therapy Important For Addiction Recovery?
Abstaining from alcohol and drugs is an incredible feat. However, in the midst of a traumatic past, abstinence itself may not be enough to maintain long-term meaning or fulfillment. In fact, many people relapse because they do not process the wounds deeply rooted in their pasts.
Once those wounds reemerge- as they inevitably do- those people typically feel helpless and defenseless. They may assume nothing will get better. They may give up altogether, under the pretense that it’s simpler to self-medicate than cope with the pain they’ve endured.
We’re not just talking about childhood trauma, either. The lifestyle of addiction itself can be traumatic. Have you lost friends to overdoses? Experienced homelessness or severe financial hardship? Suffered from the shaming and guilting of family members?
These incidents can all be traumatic. Moreover, their emotional residue can certainly impact one’s recovery efforts.
Without addressing the trauma, there is a risk of completely overlooking the foundation for why so many people struggle with addiction.
After all, research shows that nearly 60% of young people with PTSD subsequently develop substance use problems.
What Does Healing From Trauma Look Like?
There isn’t a fixed answer because there isn’t a fixed process that’s considered best.
In general, healing from trauma can be messy and unpredictable. It often entails delving into the dark abyss of the past, looking into those nooks and crannies that you suppressed years ago. In working through such trauma, you may revisit old horrors and rewrite old narratives.
Many therapists warn clients that it gets worse better it gets better, and that’s why staying the course is so essential. Trauma doesn’t get “fixed” overnight. It’s an arduous and dedicated process- just like the process of sobriety.
At its best, the healing becomes a form of acceptance. You may not like what happened to you, but you can accept the facts. The trauma no longer defines who you are. It no longer has the power to shape your identity or take away from your inherent value.
Healing from trauma looks different for everyone. But learning how to recover from the past- without needing to numb those emotions out- is one of the most rewarding processes you can experience.
Trauma therapy can be one of the most powerful assets to your recovery. You owe it to your past, present, and future self.
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