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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Breakthrough Perspective in the Treatment of Addiction and Trauma

Redefining healing and recovering from addiction and PTSD through a new perspective 

Is time to revisit and redefine traditional addiction and trauma treatment? Yes, I believe it is time.

For decades addiction treatment and trauma recovery have been conducted separately. Through research studies, it has been found that 95% of all individuals who have addictions experienced abuse, neglect or trauma growing up. Addicts tend to utilize substances (legal and illegal), negative thoughts or self-sabotaging behaviors in an attempt to numb out associated feelings or negative thoughts, self-judgment or flashbacks that surface from past experiences once he or she enters into sobriety.

Yet addiction programs do not address abuse or trauma

Conversely, trauma studies discovered that 97% of all abuse, combat and trauma survivors have one or more addictions. Survivors use addictions for the same reason. Survivors engage in addictions to suppress and numb out Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms such as vivid images, body memories, flashbacks or surfacing painful emotions as well as negative self-defeating and self-sabotaging thoughts.

Likewise, trauma programs do not address addictions

I have come to find out that the plight of an addict seeking sobriety and a survivor of abuse, combat or trauma seeking recovery is almost identical. Both are seeking or forced into unknown a culture, normal society that he or she did not learn to live within. Both learned to adapt, function and survive within another world and when expected to reintegrate into the “regular” world found it extremely hard and did not possess the skills to do so.

What has been revealed through clinical studies shows that abusive, combat or traumatic experiences are the cause and addiction is the symptom. Many reports from individuals with addictions who enter into the sobriety experience unexplained flashbacks, intense painful emotions or body memories, and intense self-defeating thoughts as well as stronger PTSD symptoms. Increased trauma-related symptoms cause him or her to relapse into increased addictive use.

Many survivors report that once in the process of healing from abuse, combat or trauma and stop using to numb out post-trauma symptoms, his or her PTSD symptoms surface more intensely and more regularly. Therefore he or she returns to and increases use of substances, looping negative thoughts, self-sabotaging behaviors, dissociative episodes, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors to numb out his or her reactions mentally, physically and emotionally. Numbing out with addictions will cause him or her to get stuck and halt in the healing process.

Treating both conditions separately has not proved to be successful. Recovery rates in both specialty fields, addiction, and trauma are at the lowest in decades. Something is not working. The struggle between of the two fields has to stop because it is the clients who are still suffering.

I challenge all helping professionals in both professions, Addictions and Post Trauma, to join together in order to revisit ideas and standards used in both treatment approaches. Both fields should put down their differences and link together to redefine methods of how clients with both conditions are treated. 

Develop new approaches, standards, and programs to help wounded and addicted souls to heal.

Now is the time to unite Addiction and Post Trauma professionals in redefining how clients are helped. 

Visit my website and click here to download free eBook

      Coach Bill                               


  1. I would like to say thanks for your sharing this useful information. Nice post keep it up. Hope to see you next post again soon.
    With Regards,
    Trauma Counseling in Sydney

    1. Trauma Counseling in Sydney,

      Thanks for your interest and comment. I believe that addiction and trauma need to be addressed together.

      If you think about it development of an addiction is traumatic.

      Blessings, Dr Bill.