Tag Archives: trauma

It Takes a Village

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“In the beginning, a lot of us thought we could do this alone. But as recovery programs such as AA, NA and CA prove; we just can’t. A great way people jump-start their recovery is through inpatient and outpatient treatments. These facilities (that can be independent or hospital run) are armed with people to help and guide you through a smooth and successful recovery. Offering therapies and skills that will offer you the chance to lead a happier life. I went to rehab at Gateway for a month and followed up with an intensive outpatient program. Now I have graduated that with over 65 days sober and seeing a therapist regularly (and of course finishing the 90 in 90!). It has been a long journey so far, but everyday I am reminded of my strength and perseverance. I will never give up on my sobriety because that means I would be giving up on myself. Something I never want to do again…” -Thank you, Robyn

Ittakesavillage

Types of Recovery Programs

Not all recovery programs involve a inpatient stays. Some programs involve daily attendance and participation in group programs such as Narcotics Anonymous. Some types of treatments that might be available in your area are outlined below.

  • Residential programs involve living in the treatment facility and attending groups, individual counseling and other activities. Long-term or extended programs usually last 90 days, and shorter programs require stays of 28 or 30 days.
  • Outpatient rehab programs offer a number of options, often treating individuals for several hours a day over the course of a few weeks.
  • Group support or therapy sessions can meet daily, weekly or at other intervals. This type of recovery program is offered by accredited facilities, volunteer organizations, churches and community centers.
  • Individual therapy with a Board Certified Substance Abuse Counselor can be the appropriate treatment for some patients and may also be part of an aftercare program following a stay in a residential rehab program.
  • Some addictions may require medical intervention, especially during the early days when physical withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous for the person attempting to become sober.

Who Should Consider a Rehab Program?

No simple formula exists for providers or patients to determine who should attend what type of drug treatment program. Drug addiction is not a simple issue, so you should ask for assistance from experienced medical or behavioral health professionals to design a treatment plan that is right for your situation. Trying drugs just once does not necessarily indicate an addiction. On the other hand, being unable to say no to substances, taking extreme actions to obtain drugs or finding yourself frequently taking drugs may indicate a need for treatment for drug and alcohol recovery.

Important Information for Effective Treatment

Research over the past 40 years has consistently identified some key information that has helped build effective treatment programs. It is important to understand the following drug recovery information.

  • Addiction impacts the function of your brain, which can alter your behavior. Guilt associated with drug-related behavior often keeps people from successful addiction recovery, but you need to be able to separate how you act on drugs from how you want to act.
  • Successful treatment programs provide for all aspects of a person’s life, not just a specific addiction. Learning new skills and sharing emotional troubles may help with recovery.
  • It is essential that you remain in treatment and comply with follow-up care. Drug addiction is a chronic disorder; some doctors have even compared addiction with asthma or hypertension. You would not stop taking your asthma medicine if it was helping to control symptoms.
  • Drug addiction is often closely related to mental illness. A rehab program that can deal with adual diagnosis is essential in these cases.
  • Treatment plans should be reevaluated and altered on an ongoing basis to seek continuous improvement. In most cases, the individual struggling with addiction should have the opportunity to provide some feedback.

When you are looking for a drug recovery treatment center, keep the above information in mind. You may also want to ask for a referral or request information about outpatient and residential rehabilitation programs from a counselor, social worker, doctor or psychiatrist.

Aftercare is Essential for Success

One thing that causes people to fall off the wagon after completing a recovery program is noncompliance with aftercare. Some people believe that drug addiction can be treated similarly to a traumatic injury such as a broken arm. The arm is set and it heals, the cast is removed, physical therapy is scheduled and life eventually returns to normal. In most cases, drug addiction cannot be approached in such a manner. Someone struggling with an addiction can appear to heal, only to relapse months or years later because of the chronic nature of the problem. Because of this, following aftercare recommendations, including involvement in group or individual counseling, is essential.

Compiled by Recovery.org

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Take Five

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Take Five

Sure enough(she really should’ve known) when it came to going up, she would come down. This rapid cycling has been going on for about two weeks now. Today she spent the whole day laying in her bed crying. Going over all the insanity she had experienced six months prior when she was in India. Every time she managed to stop, she burst end out in tears again. She decided to make some calls. After several failed attempts she finally reached a girl she had met in rehab.

Amy had been a good friend from the start. At the age of 19, with it being her first time in rehab, she had more in common than most of the other girls. They spoke about their dreams of travel and made up a master scheme to backpack around the US with all the money they would save in sobriety. But those dreams were about to be shattered… 

The moment she picked up her words formed in an endless stream, overwhelming Amy on the other line, “Hi! How are you!? I’m terrible, I don’t know what’s going on I’ve been crying non-stop and I just don’t know why I think its a bipolar flare up or something I know you don’t have bipolar but I just thought I’d see how you were doing I just need to talk to someone! How are you?! What are you doing?!” 

It didn’t take long for Amy to come out with her guilty truths. She had relapsed and judging on her tone and lack of inspiration, she wasn’t coming back just yet. She explained how she had ODed… 

Amy listened as she began to cry for her. “Oh! No! I feel like I want to relapse now! How could you? What’s going on? What made you relapse?!” 

Amy immediately replied, “No! Don’t relapse too, be strong! It’s just tough for me, so many things have been going on, I just can’t control…”

Ahh, but there lies the problem. Amy thought she had to control this. But that’s not it. Give it to your higher power. That’s what I’ve learned in NA and AA. It took her another phone call to a member of NA, Ryan, before she realized this. After that call she had prayed so hard she though God would get annoyed.

Ultimately it took her a long walk, a couple more calls before she was able to calm herself down. One girl, Tay, told her firmly that everything passes. Tay may not struggle with bipolar disorder but if there is anything she knows how to do, its lift people up when their down. When she hung up with her she felt empowered enough to get out of the house and keep her mind busy. Though that was another faulty idea, as her sister, Jacquelyn, pointed out. 

“You need to face your thoughts, not just dismiss them and burry them in your heart. You can’t escape from yourself or you disorder. You have to learn to live with it. It may not be who you are but it will always be apart of you.” Jacquelyn told her.

She found all of these people so gracious and understanding. She knew again– because she needed reminding– that she was loved and not alone

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P.T.S.D. And Childhood Trauma Linked to Addiction

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“This is a wonderful article that focus’ on P.T.S.D that can develop from childhood trauma and how it is linked to Addiction. I may not have experienced much trauma due to my up-bringing but I can fully understand the diagnosis of P.T.S.D after I was faced with the traumatic experience of an extreme manic outbreak while I was living abroad in India. Its hard not to think of something so dramatic everyday and live in extreme regret and torture from the memories. I hope your able to find as much appreciation for this problem and its connections to addiction recovery as much as I have.” -Love, Robyn

by Kevin VaLeu

We live in an addictive age. In the last five years of my life I have come across and counseled more people struggling with cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, anorexia, sex, and a whole host of other addictions then I did in the previous five years.

Are people becoming more immoral? Or is there something else causing people to turn to substances and sex. Perhaps these next statistics will shed light into what I believe is the underlying causation of our culture’s craziness.

1) The turn of our century (2000) marked the first time in American history that the majority of our children (over 50%) were raised without both biological mother and father in the same home.

2) Even if both mother and father are in the home it doesn’t mean they are in any better shape if they are being abused or neglected. 61% of all children experience some form of neglect.

3) Greater than 1 out of 3 girls will be sexually molested during their childhood or teenage years.

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What does this mean? We live in a day and age where children are experiencing trauma at unprecedented levels from molestations, abuse, abandonment, neglect, and dysfunctional or fragmented homes. When traumatized children slip under the radar of effective treatment they will find illegitimate, illicit and unhealthy coping mechanisms to medicate the long unforgotten pain.

Link Between Trauma and Addictions

Research shows that 50-60% of women and 20% of men in chemical dependency programs report a history of childhood sexual abuse. When you include people that have experienced P.T.S.D. (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or childhood trauma the number can climb as high as 99% of them having substance abuse problems.

How Trauma Affects the Brain

In order to understand how trauma makes one more susceptible to addictions, we need to understand two types of memories at work in the brain: 1) Explicit Memory–this is a memory that we can deliberately call up or put away at any time. We have a sense of control over it and we know it is just a memory; 2) Implicit Memory–these memories have coded in them not only a picture of a past event but the resulting feelings, sensations, and emotional response that went with it. These memories happen outside our control.

These memories are adaptive or automatic, which means they can “pop up” or shoot into our minds involuntarily upon some stimuli or current event that reminds us of a past trauma (called association). This is why a current event can trigger a flood of negative emotions that are identical to the emotions we felt at the time of the trauma. In fact, this is why people with PTSD are continually being tortured from their memories because when something “triggers” their past they are actually reliving the painful past trauma over again. Its no longer just a memory they recall, its all the emotions, feelings, and sensations engraved upon that memory card they recall and relive in the present.

This is why many Vietnam veterans with PTSD experience such painful flashbacks. They aren’t just remembering the past, they are actually reliving it. The bomb they see coming at them in their memory is a real bomb coming at them right now.

In addition, as we grew up, all of our basic assumptions about people (e.g. can they be trusted), ways of relating, and behaving towards people are formed on these implicit memory cards. This explains why you get tense or tighten up at the bank whenever you run into a particular man that reminds you of your cruel step-father.

In order to successfully treat a person with PTSD they have to be guided to convert their implicit memories into explicit ones.

Trauma is Recorded in the Limbic System which sits on the Vegus Nerve.

An interesting physiological discovery is that our traumatic memories are housed in our limbic system. This might not mean much if it weren’t for that fact our limbic system is on top of our Vegus Nerve. When the vagus nerve is stimulated by pain, fear, other distresses, and at an extreme, fainting may occur since such stimulation of the nerve affects the pace of the heart. Such stimulation also causes nausea and cool, clammy skin.

Its now easy to see how memories not only affect our emotions but also our physical bodies.

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Emotional Disregulation & Tension-Reduction Behaviors (Addiction):

When an implicit memory is jarred the body automatically releases the hormones of cortisol and adrenaline to give it power or enable it to go into the “flight” or “fight” (emergency) mode. However, for a person that has experienced emotional trauma, there response mechanism is a bit different. When a person with PTSD has their “flight” or “fight” system alerted they experience the current stress at a visceral or guttural level (soul depth) and have to shut down the hippocampus. Similar to a computer that is slowed down by too many programs running in the background, the mind shuts down certain parts (in this case the hippocampus) because it is too difficult to run it while in emergency mode. Implicit memories can cause one to live in a constant state of being overwhelmed. Past traumas that induce implicit memories also damage mood regulation. It is easy to see how the extra strain on a brain from trauma would affect our ability to stay an even keel.

When the mind tries to remember what has happened during a traumatic moment a person experiences emotional disregulation. There are three coping strategies a person may employ in dealing with emotional disregulation:

1) Avoidance: A person doesn’t want to talk about the trauma, think about the trauma, or be around anybody or anything that reminds them of the trauma.

2) Dissociate: They disconnect from reality which, without realizing, turns off the integrative links connecting the pre-frontal cortex to the limbic system. This means one disconnects from their experiences, which on the one hand helps them escape from the painful anxiety that would normally come, but on the other hand is detrimental from an emotional stand point. You lose the ability to feel anything through this numbing process; even the ability to empathize for others. This is damaging to the psyche.

3) Tension-Reduction Behaviors (leads to Addictions): When trauma occurs the brain fires up, becomes overactive and makes a person feel they cannot deal with it without the aid of some type of pleasure to “settle things down.” This is the point where a person may turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc. It is here, at this stage of the process, that lends itself toward addictions.