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:
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 love done 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.
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 true 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.
Recovery Centers of America at Lighthouse, our trauma-informed approach to addiction treatment is with our comprehensive ‘Breaking Free’ Trauma Program.
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.
This 4-week course runs alongside of addiction treatment. The topics that are covered include (but not limited to):
‘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.
People suffering from trauma can feel unsafe within their bodies; trauma-informed yoga works to re-instill that trust and sense of comfort. RCA’s instructor puts the power in each students’ hands, as they accept everyone is the master of his or her body and experience, and work to create a safe, comfortable healing space.
In this space, there are no loud sounds, bright lights, overpowering scents – it’s a quiet spot to learn calming breathing techniques and comfortable postures to loosen up the body without a hands-on process, while acknowledging each person has their own boundaries.
Meet the team
MA, LAC, ATR-BC, CCTP
Jennifer comes to Recovery Centers of America at Lighthouse with experience working as a therapist in the substance use and mental health field. Jennifer specializes in Trauma Informed Care, Art Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches. Jennifer received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Art Therapy from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is currently credentialed as a Licensed Associate Counselor and a Board Certified Art Therapist in the state of New Jersey. Jennifer is also nationally credentialed as a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional.
Jennifer’s passion for treating those experiencing unresolved grief and loss, complex mental health symptoms, and maladaptive coping skills comes from her several years of working with multiple high risk populations, and recognizing a need for continued health care reform and social action against stigma. Jennifer approaches her work with non judgmental compassion; encourages empowerment through self advocacy; and offers a safe place to explore underlying issues that layer substance use disorders. Jennifer believes a better quality of life is possible through recovery and healing.
M.S.Ed, CCTP, RYT-200, TCTSY-F
Karin holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Fordham University and a Masters of Science from Hofstra University. She is a Certified Yoga Instructor and Clinical Trauma Professional. She began her yoga practice in 1991 as a path to emotional healing. Karin is currently working towards her E-RYT through Yoga Alliance. Her background in addictions led her to RCA working as a yoga instructor. She earned an additional 300-hour trauma yoga certification through the Trauma Center in Boston Massachusetts becoming a Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga Facilitator and implementing an evidenced-based, best practices program into the Breaking Free Trauma Track.
As a TCTSY Facilitator, Karin is an integral part of helping clients learn to befriend their bodies. Additionally, Karin is certified to work with incarcerated populations. In the summer of 2017 Karin was privileged to work with Youth Build Philadelphia leading yoga and meditation classes. She has earned her certification in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) through the University of Massachusetts. Karin has created a yoga program at The Branches, an outreach center serving the homeless and those living with poverty in Lower Cape May County. Most recently Karin became a trained Family Support Group Facilitator for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Karin teaches trauma, yoga, and meditation workshops in Cape May County. She is a member of Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Service Council.
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.
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 at Lighthouse, 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.
Moving from Inpatient to Outpatient
Our support and treatment don’t stop once you or your loved one leaves RCA Lighthouse’s Inpatient. The second half of the track – ‘Breaking Through’ – is available in our Outpatient programs, including Intensive Outpatient (IOP), General Outpatient (GOP), and Partial Care Program (PCP).
Here, trauma is still addressed into different stages of recovery, but worked on less intensely. Trauma-informed yoga and group therapy sessions are offered in RCA at Lighthouse’s ‘Breaking Through’ Outpatient program. Our group therapy includes:
Our therapists and staff will be with you and your family every step of the way.