Traumatic events can shape people. Trauma is the unique individual experience of an event or condition that a person finds highly stressful. A person’s ability to integrate their emotional experience is thus overwhelmed, leaving the individual to experience a threat (perceived or actual) to their life, bodily integrity, or that of someone they care about. A traumatic experience may be from one event, a series of events, or chronic stress, abuse, or neglect. Over time, this can cause the body to freeze up or experience periods of stress, detachment, and anger.

Trauma is more common than you may realize. According to research, about 6 of every 10 men, or 60%, and 5 of every 10 women, or 50%, have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives. Roughly two-thirds of children experience some form of trauma before the age of 18, as stated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Past traumatic experiences significantly affect an individual’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Trauma has been linked with many long-term issues that affect the overall well-being of a person, including the development of psychological problems and substance abuse in individuals. Trauma is considered the leading factor in most behavioral and substance use-related disorders.

How Can Trauma Impact Mental Health?

Trauma can have a significant impact on your mental health. It can affect how you feel about yourself and how you relate to other people. Women who have experienced trauma, including abuse, have a higher risk of developing a mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Can Trauma Cause Addiction?

Trauma can lead to addiction. Many research studies have confirmed the correlation between traumatic experiences in childhood and addictive behaviors in adulthood. One 1998 study on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) found that people who experienced ACEs within the first 18 years of life had an increased risk of alcohol use and other drug use in adulthood.

Many people use drugs for the immediate psychological effects offered, often producing feelings of pleasure or happiness and reducing dysphoria or negative feelings. Those with dysregulated stress systems from trauma may find a reprieve from chronic stress or anxiety by using drugs or alcohol. People with traumatic histories are susceptible to addiction as a means of helping to regulate their mood, quieting intrusive thoughts, or suppressing the arousal caused by dysregulated stress hormones. However, others with a traumatic past may experience a different reaction to substance use. They may feel chronically emotionless, numb, and disengaged and thus use drugs or alcohol to help boost their mood.

Because there is a complex relationship between past trauma and the development of mood disorders and addiction, the need for a trauma-informed perspective is essential for recovery.

What is Trauma-Informed Treatment?

Trauma-informed treatment examines how individuals suffer from the lingering effects of past traumatic events. Trauma-informed treatment at recovery centers looks at each individual’s past and uses the information to provide skills that promote overall healing, helping them navigate their journey forward.

This approach to mental health and substance abuse counseling teaches clients specific behavioral techniques that enable them to manage trauma symptoms better, preventing relapse. Four assumptions make up the trauma-informed approach, known as the “Four R’s,” which include:

  • Realization about trauma and its impact on people and groups
  • Recognizing the signs of trauma
  • Responding to trauma with a system
  • Resisting re-traumatization

Trauma-informed treatment is a delicate balancing act between who an individual is now and what they have experienced in the past, working to help them see through a new lens that will help them as they work through recovery.

For those who battle substance abuse, there is always hope through a trauma-informed therapy lens, regardless of the type of drugs or alcohol they have used, the reason they abused substances, the severity of their symptoms, or what has occurred as a result of substance abuse.

Trauma-informed therapy offers a chance to begin the healing journey and to grow for those with co-occurring mental health disorders.

How to Find Trauma-Informed Treatment in Santa Barbara, CA

At Casa Serena, we want to help women overcome addiction and trauma symptoms so they can live their best lives. Our Southern California women’s trauma-informed treatment is here to help those who find themselves ready to accept help, offering the best practices regarding trauma-informed care. 
We have a place for you or your loved one in our beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, trauma-informed treatment program. For more information about our women’s rehab in Southern California, reach out today.

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