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The Power of Trauma-Informed Addiction Treatment


Oftentimes, addiction is a result of mental health disorders and trauma, especially trauma that occurs at a young age or during childhood. Despite this, not all drug and alcohol treatment centers offer treatment that help with mental health disorders; however, many luxury rehab facilities can help with this. This type of treatment, referred to as dual diagnosis treatment to help with both mental health and addiction, is vital to helping people truly overcome addiction issues.

For those dealing with mental health disorders and addiction, the two problems often play off each. In order to ensure that clients get the help that they need, they must ensure the rehab they are attending has dual diagnosis treatment in place.

The Overlap Between Mental Illness and Addiction

Experiencing early childhood trauma such as sexual assault, exposure to drug addiction, physical assault, or more, are all major indicators that someone may deal with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unfortunately, these issues are also major causes of addiction.

For example, one study shows that over 40% of people in substance use disorder treatment for opioid addiction also have symptoms of mental health disorders including depression and anxiety.

Along with these two disorders, PTSD is a significant problem that affects millions and can often lead to addiction-related issues. In fact, about half of all individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorder also meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis.

So, what is the solution?

Simply put, dual diagnosis treatment and trauma-informed addiction therapy are the best tools we have to help people overcome these issues.

Trauma-Informed Therapy and Dual Diagnosis

There are numerous types of trauma-informed therapy programs and dual diagnosis treatments in place to help those who are dealing with both mental illness and addiction-related issues.

One of the most used forms of therapy used in addiction treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT works by having clinicians identify thought patterns and processes in clients that often lead to substance-using behavior and working to rewire, or reverse, these thoughts -- helping ensure using substances isn’t the default reaction.

Along with CBT, one of the best forms of therapy to help with post-traumatic stress disorder specifically is eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Some studies show that up to 90% of single-trauma victims no longer exhibit signs of PTSD after just 3 sessions.

Not all facilities can treat both diagnoses simultaneously. In 2017, less than a quarter of facilities met the criteria for treating dual diagnosis. So, ensure that you are looking for treatment centers that can help with not only addiction, but mental health disorders as well.

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In my practice I have discovered that addressing the client's trauma issues and the ways in which those experiences tie into their drug use forms a MUCH more productive base from which to address their substance use. In MANY instances the client's impulse to use substances greatly diminishes once they develop skills to understand and address their trauma (they are intrinsically bound). The ACEs Connection has assisted me in this work!

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