Millions of people every day struggle with addiction. While many of us know what addiction is and how it can affect a person’s life, what is not known is how and why a person may become addicted or turn to substance abuse in the first place. One of the primary causes of addiction or addiction-related dependency is trauma. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to cope with things that have happened to them or the recurring issues that trauma has caused in their day-to-day life. 

Part of what we do here at Liberty Wellness is to treat the underlying causes of addiction, not just the substance itself. To that end, in this post, we will discuss trauma, how trauma-informed treatment works, what trauma treatment is and its role in addiction, and how to find trauma-informed care in New Jersey.

What is Trauma? 

Trauma can be defined as a physical, emotional, and psychological response to a frightening, dangerous, or otherwise overwhelming event. Most of the time, when we think of trauma, we think of those who have served in combat situations in the military or those who have been victims of violent or sexual crimes. While this is true, trauma can also come from accidents and injuries, sudden loss, and near-death experiences. 

Essentially, trauma leaves a lasting impression on our minds and bodies, often manifesting in nightmares or flashbacks that cause us to relive the event. There are often triggers that can cause us to go into shock or to have memories of the event flood to the surface at a moment’s notice. This is why many people use other methods, such as drugs or alcohol, to cope with the trauma. 

The trouble with trauma and the symptoms that it triggers, is that it can go dormant for even years at a time and then suddenly flare up. Trauma can be lifelong if left untreated, which is why it is particularly important in terms of addiction to get the right kind of treatment for a person that is suffering from trauma and using drugs or alcohol to cope with the situation.

What is Trauma Informed Care? 

Trauma-informed care is a type of treatment that focuses on identifying a person’s trauma and treatment effects, rather than on individual symptoms that may be related to that trauma. 

For instance, a person with social anxiety would normally be given medication for that anxiety and sent on their way. However, with trauma-informed care, the goal is not to treat the social anxiety, but to figure out what triggers the social anxiety and treat the underlying cause of it, in this case, the trauma. 

This is often a multi-stage process:

  1. It’s important to understand the trauma itself, what happened and why it was traumatic.
  2. It is about identifying those situations that trigger a reaction, such as flashbacks, anxiety, etc.
  3. It is then possible to assess the situation and develop tools to help cope with both the past trauma and its effect on the person’s present-day life.

What is the Importance of Trauma-Informed Treatment For Addiction? 

Trauma-informed treatment is important in the addiction treatment process because, like other co-occurring disorders, trauma accompanies the addiction, and without treating both, a person can never truly recover. 

Because a person with trauma uses addiction as a coping mechanism, it is impossible for them to recover from the addiction without treating the trauma as well. Both things feed off of each other, and the chances of relapse are much higher without dealing with both. Once both can be treated at the same time, and coping skills developed, it is easier to move forward free of both addiction and trauma symptoms. While it is not possible to erase trauma or addiction, you can learn how to deal with it.

How to Find Trauma-Informed Care in New Jersey 

If you or someone you loved has suffered from trauma and is also dealing with addiction, then Liberty Wellness is here to help. 

We have New Jersey treatment programs that specialize in dealing with trauma and support for family members and aftercare services. Our goal is to treat the whole addiction, not just parts of it. 
If you or a loved one are ready to get the help you need, contact Liberty Wellness today. Liberty Wellness is an outpatient rehab in New Jersey, providing dual diagnosis and substance abuse treatment near Mount Laurel.