Co-Treating Trauma and Addiction Disorders

Treatment for trauma & addiction disorders in Melbourne

Simultaneous Treatment of Addiction and Trauma at The Cabin Melbourne

An overwhelming number of people who present for addiction treatment are discovered to have suffered some sort of significant trauma. In fact, according to a 2012 study published by the Current Psychiatry Reports Journal, over 50% of those seeking treatment for addiction meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

With the very high, well documented correlation between the experience of trauma and the development of addiction, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that the approach of co-treating trauma and addiction is still relatively new and nowhere near universal. Since unresolved trauma is a major predictor of relapse among those in addiction recovery, it is crucial that trauma be addressed simultaneously with addiction treatment. The Cabin Melbourne offers a specialised co-treatment programme to treat trauma alongside addiction and provide lasting, relapse-resistant recovery.

Trauma and PTSD Explained

Trauma is the emotional response to a distressing event that overwhelms one’s ability to cope. Trauma often occurs as a result of dangerous or terrifying situations such as a natural disaster, a serious accident or an assault. However a situation doesn’t need to be life-threatening in order for it to produce trauma. Trauma can be experienced in response to any event that is emotionally painful, jeopardises your safety or leaves you feeling helpless, including sexual assault, psychological abuse or even infidelity.

When the experience of trauma is particularly intense or a person is not able to properly process it, they may experience a prolonged trauma response which eventually develops into an anxiety disorder. This particular trauma-induced anxiety disorder is termed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can manifest itself in the following symptoms:

  • Nightmares or flashbacks
  • Nausea or light-headedness
  • Taking extreme measures to avoid triggers
  • A feeling of disconnection from self and others
  • Impaired concentration
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Reckless or self-destructive behaviour

While most people experience some of the above symptoms in response to trauma, these symptoms usually subside overtime and life as normal resumes. For those whose trauma response progresses into PTSD, these symptoms persist and cause on-going disruptions to their lives.

There are three distinct categories of trauma:

‘Big T’ Trauma or Shock Trauma

Trauma caused by shocking or extremely stressful experiences is referred to as Big T trauma. This type of trauma typically results from witnessing, or directly experiencing, severely distressing events such as violence, sexual assault or a horrific accident. Big T trauma can also stem from the unexpected loss of someone close to you.

‘Small t’ trauma

Trauma can also develop in response to what, from the outside, may seem like insignificant, every day events. What makes these seemingly inconsequential events traumatic is the profound emotional impact that they have.

Some examples of events that may give rise to small t trauma are:

  • Bullying/ exclusion at school
  • Divorce of parents
  • Losing a job
  • Living in poverty
  • Death of a pet

Small t trauma can be easily dismissed or written off as trivial by others; however this only serves to amplify the experience of the trauma for the sufferer.

Complex Trauma

When a traumatic event is experienced repeatedly or for a prolonged time, the cumulative effect is termed complex trauma. Many small t traumas fall under this category however Big T trauma can be described as complex trauma as well.

Some examples of events that may give rise to complex trauma are as follows:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Multiple military deployments
  • Exploitation by an authority figure
  • Childhood neglect

Complex trauma can occur within specific relationships, contexts or periods of time.

The Link Between Addiction and Trauma

There is an inextricable link between trauma and addiction. Many people who experience a traumatic event turn to drugs or alcohol as their other coping methods fail. Sufferers of trauma often experience significant anxiety or intrusive thoughts and attempt to soothe this discomfort with substances or compulsive behaviours. This self-medication can quickly evolve into addiction if the trauma is not properly addressed. Further, those suffering from an addiction are more likely to be exposed to highly stressful situations thereby increasing their risk of experiencing trauma.

Those in recovery from addiction are at a significantly higher risk for relapse if they suffer from unresolved trauma. In the face of a trauma trigger, a recovered addict may find themself desperately grasping for a way to cope, and can easily fall back into old patterns. Therefore, for the best chance of relapse-resistant recovery, it is imperative that underlying trauma and addiction be treated simultaneously.

Effective Co-Treatment of Trauma and Addiction

The Cabin Melbourne utilises an innovative, holistic treatment model for the co-treatment of addiction and trauma. This highly effective treatment model incorporates proven psychotherapeutic addiction-treatment methods alongside the following:

Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly effective method designed to help people move past trauma by properly processing the memories that are causing them pain. Using bi-lateral eye movements the traumatic memories are moved out of the fore-front of the mind and into storage in long-term memory. Significant improvements of PTSD symptoms have been reported after as few as eight sessions.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) involves monitoring and changing patterns of thinking and behaviour. Our special trauma focused CBT method will teach you to recognise and anticipate triggers and provides you with the tools you need to cope without turning to substances.

Trauma release exercise (TRE) yoga helps to work through painful memories using movement. This method involves activating the body’s natural reflexes of vibrating and shaking. As muscle tension is released, the body is safely guided back into a state of balance.

Why The Cabin is the Best Choice for Co-Treatment of Trauma and Addiction

syd2The knowledgeable and highly skilled team at The Cabin Melbourne have a deep understanding of both addiction and trauma and the complex nature of the relationship between the two. Your addiction and trauma will be treated simultaneously, giving you the best chance for relapse resistant recovery.

Our team of addiction specialists will design a treatment programme specifically for you with your individual circumstances in mind. Our flexible outpatient programme allows you to fit treatment around your busy schedule so that you can heal without having to make sacrifices in your personal or professional life.

At the Cabin Melbourne we take your privacy seriously. We understand that recovery is a very personal process and take every measure to protect your confidentiality while you are on your path to recovery.

Take the first step toward healing. Contact us today.

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Contact us today to have a no obligation assessment and see how we can help you. Fill out the short form on the top right of this page, or call us directly on +61 3 9242 0570, to start your journey to recovery now.

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