Breaking Free – Trauma & Addiction

Trauma and Addiction Connection

Trauma refers to a situation where someone is rendered powerless and there is danger present. It’s not your everyday events in life, like getting into an argument with a friend or hitting traffic; trauma is deeper and painful, overcoming a person’s ability to cope. A traumatic experience varies depending on the person – what’s traumatic for one person may not be for another.

Trauma takes many shapes and forms; it could be seeing a friend overdose, a car accident, a divorce, or being homeless. Research has shown there is a direct connection between people who have suffered a trauma – whether it was during childhood or adulthood – and addiction. In fact, about 75% of people struggling with addiction have faced some kind of trauma.

Other types of traumatic experiences that can impact addiction include:

  • Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
  • Bullying
  • Life-threatening diseases
  • Violence
  • Poverty
  • Natural disasters
  • Sexual assault
  • PTSD
  • PTSD from military combat

Trauma takes a heavy toll on a person – so does addiction. Recovery Centers of America can help you or your loved one take the necessary steps to start the process of recovery. Both need to be treated with professional, compassionate care in order for the trauma impacted person to live a fulfilling, healthy, happy life.

Everyone’s nervous system has two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic. Both of these work automatically, meaning you can’t control either. When someone suffers trauma, their sympathetic nervous system – aka ‘fight or flight mode’ – switches on … and can stay on indefinitely. That means the person will be jumpy, agitated, unable to relax, etc. because they’re expecting a threat. When someone can’t turn off that never-ending dread of expecting something bad to happen, they’re more likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol – and so begins the vicious cycle; reminders of the trauma cause cravings for drugs or alcohol. When you or your loved one begins working through the traumatic experience it will shed new light on how to manage cravings associated with those triggers.

This is especially true for unaddressed childhood trauma, as the aftermath can linger for years and push the person towards trauma drug abuse to cope with the pain. A child’s experiences and surroundings mold his or her physical and psychological development, so childhood trauma plays a large role in addiction. Because children can’t add any frame of reference or make sense of the situation, they can’t process the experience. It festers until the person finds an out, often turning to drugs or alcohol.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

– Khalil Gibran

Breaking Free Trauma Program: Trauma-Informed Care & Therapy

Taking a trauma-informed approach to trauma and drug addiction is critical. Once drugs and alcohol are taken out of the equation, whether it’s through detox or recovery, the trauma is still there – and will stay there until it’s addressed. Until then, there is always the risk of relapse. That’s why it’s so important to find trauma and drug addiction treatment that focuses on treating the person as a whole.

We understand addiction treatment in itself can be nerve-racking. You or your loved one will find comfort in our supportive therapists and staff, as well as a program completely tailored to the specific trauma.

‘Breaking Free’ isn’t just about trauma – it’s about understanding and learning to cope with emotions, behaviors, reactions, and past experiences. During this program you or your loved one will benefit from trauma-informed yoga, receiving tools that support growth and advancement, and community understanding and awareness.

Tools to support growth and advancement

When it comes to addressing trauma, people often think that’s how most of their time in therapy will be spent – reliving the traumatizing event over and over again until it doesn’t hurt anymore. However, our therapists are sensitive to re-exposing patients to trauma. While the event is acknowledged and respected, the focus is on the event’s impact on your world today and any symptoms you may be experiencing.

One type of therapy you or your loved one will participate in is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on retraining behaviors to help the person think before reacting. This way, a heated argument or upsetting conversation won’t trigger a relapse. The person learns to take a step back and identify emotions before responding.

RCA’s therapy also focuses on mindfulness. It’s normal for a person suffering from trauma to be reactive. Here-and-now processes help someone stay in the moment and look internally to process what’s going on. Here, the person reviews and understands emotions, often uncovering the link between their trauma and substance use.

You or your loved one will also receive a ‘Breaking Free Manual,’ which includes specific trauma-focused homework and tips. This excellent resource breaks down the trauma program per week, and offers helpful pointers on staying in the moment, quick relaxation tips, anchors to reduce triggers, how to defuse anger, addressing negative thinking, and examining core beliefs. It’s a useful go-to guide for both during and after treatment.

Curriculum Preview for Breaking Free: Trauma-Informed Addiction Treatment

Do you want to learn more about Breaking Free: Trauma-Informed Addiction Treatment? Download this preview of the proprietary clinical content we use every day at our facilities.

Community Understanding and Awareness

While you or your loved one participate in trauma and addiction treatment, find comfort in the fact that other participants understand and respect trauma and the sensitivities around it. The supportive community feel provides a safe environment for healing and growth. Your peers in group have also gone through trauma; they’re sympathetic and want to help.

At Recovery Centers of America, we want you or your loved one to feel safe physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. At our facility, you or your loved one is surrounded by support and a sense of security from both peers and the staff, acting as a shield for your physical safety. Our therapists work on creating emotional, mental, and spiritual safety so you can be at your strongest to tackle your addiction.

Our brokenness summons light into the deepest crevices in our hearts.”
– Shauna L. Hoey

Questions about starting treatment?

Call 1-800-RECOVERY or complete the form below.

Find a Recovery Centers of America location near you

Make the call that changes everything.

Call Now! 1-800-RECOVERY


Treatment Advisor
Standing By, 24/7