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The Benefits of Trauma-Informed Care For Addiction Treatment

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The Benefits of Trauma-Informed Care For Addiction Treatment

Many people may be surprised to discover how prevalent issues of trauma and addiction actually are. According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), “One-quarter to three-quarters of people who have survived abusive or violent traumatic experiences report problematic alcohol use,” and “One-tenth to one-third of people who survive accident, illness, or disaster-related trauma report problematic alcohol use, especially if troubled by persistent health problems or pain.” These are just a couple of the statistics that show why trauma-informed care for addiction treatment is so crucial.

An Overview: Understanding the Basics of Trauma

If the previous statistics didn’t hammer home the prevalence of trauma, the following statistic may. The National Comorbidity Study (NCS) is a study that “establishes how prevalent traumas are in the lives of the general U.S. population.” Now, when individuals taking part in the study were “presented with a list of 11 types of traumatic experiences and a 12th “other” category, 60.7% of men and 51.2% of women reported experiencing at least one trauma in their lifetime. So, with over half of people in the country experiencing trauma at least one time in their lives, it makes sense to focus on it in recovery.

Trauma is most often associated with issues of sudden loss, physical abuse, active combat, and experiencing a natural disaster. However, it is important to understand that the concept of trauma is more fluid than it once was. Where trauma was once solely categorized as a physical experience, trauma now includes instances that may go against one’s values or worldview. However, regardless of where the trauma comes from, it can still lead to issues of addiction.

The Relationship Between Trauma and Addiction

Now, according to the previously mentioned ISTSS, “Research demonstrates a strong link between exposure to traumatic events and substance use problems,” and “People with alcohol or drug use problems are more likely to experience traumatic events than those without these problems.” Also, “Many people find themselves in a vicious cycle in which exposure to traumatic events produces increased alcohol and drug use, which produces new traumatic event experiences, which leads to even worse substance use, and so forth.” It is this “vicious cycle” that trauma-informed care focuses on with issues of addiction.

So then, what exactly is trauma-informed care? Trauma-informed care is care that has a specific focus on ensuring that the individual struggling feels wholly safe while working through their issues. While not all trauma-informed care has the same framework, there tend to be the same principles of “safety, collaboration, choice, empowerment, and trustworthiness.” Focusing on these principles of trauma-informed care first will help someone struggling with trauma and addiction to open themselves when it comes time to work on the addiction side of their issues.

Trauma-Informed Care: The Importance of Treating Trauma and Addiction in Tandem

While broad trauma may not be considered a specific mental health disorder, it can be helpful to classify it as a co-occurring disorder when someone is dealing with it alongside their issues of addiction. So, this being the case, just like other co-occurring disorders of addiction, trauma co-occurring with addiction must be treated at the same time.

If trauma is left untreated during addiction recovery, there is a good chance that the issues of untreated trauma will resurface at some point. This can lead to serious discomfort and ultimately has a high potential of causing a relapse.

Now, it is not a guarantee that issues of trauma will not creep up while in recovery, even though they have been treated. However, a focus on trauma-informed care will ensure that an individual knows what to do and has the coping skills to handle these issues of trauma when they pop up.

Tools for Handling Trauma in Long-Term Recovery

There are many techniques and tools for handling trauma in addiction recovery. The following are some, but not all, of the ways to handle issues of trauma in addiction recovery:

  • Connect with others who are also in recovery (a good “sober network” with help with this)
  • Focus on positive aspects of a set daily routine
  • Volunteer in the community and be of service to other people who are struggling with issues of addiction and/or mental health
  • “Pause,” breathe, and walk away (if possible)
  • Connect to a recovery professional if serious symptoms arise and persist

One Day at a Time: The Primary Pursuit of Progress at Lantana Recovery

Now, one of the keys to recovering from issues of addiction and/or trauma is to take it “One day at a time.” When this focus on “the now” happens, it becomes much easier to avoid getting overwhelmed by any issues that may arise in recovery.

Here at Lantana Recovery, we understand how hard it is for us to seek help for issues of mental health and addiction. Many of us on staff have been there before, which is why we also know how much harder it ends up being when we don’t seek help. That is why we are here to help our clients choose the former, which is always the easier softer way.

Trauma-informed care is vital to addiction treatment, as many of us have also undergone trauma either before or as a result of our addiction. By having a staff that is trauma-informed, we here at Lantana Recovery assure our clients that they will feel safe, trusted, and empowered in their recovery journey. If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with issues of addiction and/or mental health, you are not alone, and you don’t have to struggle anymore. We can help. For more information on the principles of trauma-informed care, its process, how it benefits addiction treatment, and what it looks like in our various treatment programs, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.