The vast majority of women who suffer from drug and alcohol dependencies have undergone some significant personal trauma at one point or another. In many cases, this trauma is sexually-related – frequently occurring during childhood or early adolescence, sexual trauma can severely affect the emotional development of women, ingraining in them deep-seated trust issues, male-related issues, and crippling feelings of guilt and shame. Physical and emotional abuse can also result in lasting feelings of shame and self-loathing – feelings that many women desperately try to numb with excessive use of drugs and alcohol. For this reason, The Willow Place for Women has implemented an intensive trauma recovery program for our patients.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is an emotional response to a tragic event. Often times, trauma is a normal response. But, for those that have trauma-related symptoms for a long period of time need mental help to cope. Those that have not gotten treatment for the symptoms of their trauma may reach to drugs or alcohol to soothe the symptoms of their trauma. Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol can help to numb the symptoms of trauma, but frequent use enables the cycle of addiction to take a place in trauma-affected women. The Willow Place for Women believes that addiction and trauma should be addressed concurrently in treatment so that they do not influence each other once treatment concludes. Trauma can be a result of a number of different scenarios. Common causes of trauma include:
- Sexual assault
- Natural disaster
- Victim of a crime
- Witness of a crime or death(s)
- Loss of a loved one
- Childhood abuse
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Chronic illness or injury
The symptoms of trauma are debilitating and can even prevent an individual from performing daily duties and taking care of responsibilities. Symptoms of trauma include anger, depression, anxiety, paranoia, high stress levels, sadness, mood swings, and exhaustion. If trauma is left untreated, high levels of stress over a long period of time caused by trauma can result in serious physical ailments. Trauma should be treated in any person that is feeling the effects so that well-being can be attained. For those struggling with both addiction and trauma, education and counseling is needed to confront, learn about, and heal from both issues. Upon enrolling into treatment at The Willow Place for Women, a comprehensive assessment of the individual is done to retain both medical and psychological information about the history of drug abuse, trauma, and mental disorders. Those that have enrolled into our partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient programs and have been deemed to be affected by a traumatic experience can benefit from the trauma recovery education and trauma recovery counseling services from the trauma recovery program.
Trauma Recovery Program
At Willow Place for Women, our Trauma Recovery program serves to help individuals suffering from the effects of trauma, abuse, domestic violence and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This specially designed program utilizes a ‘Trauma Informed’ and ‘Seeking Safety Approach’ for women in early treatment or recovery. Research shows that there is an extremely high relapse rate among patients who have substance use disorders and unresolved trauma or PTSD. Members learn healthy coping mechanisms to help them deal with the stress and negative mental, spiritual, and emotional effects of trauma. This program also assists in laying the groundwork necessary for women to engage in deeper trauma processing by creating a safe, supportive environment where members are free to share and process issues related to trust, guilt, and shame.
Trauma Education Program
The intent of the trauma education program at The Willow Place for Women is to provide our patients with the knowledge they need to confront both their addiction and their trauma-related symptoms. Education is necessary to understand the effects of both trauma and addiction so that patients can fully identify the underlying causes of both. Without proper knowledge on how trauma and addiction play off one another, recovering individuals will not develop the coping skills needed to deal with both outside of treatment. Additionally, gaining the proper knowledge about these afflictions allows patients to become prepared to work through these issues in the trauma counseling program.
Trauma Counseling Program
Trauma recovery counseling at The Willow Place for Women works to identify the underlying causes of both addiction and trauma in our patients’ lives. For those affected by trauma and addiction, it is important to confront demons that have been haunting patients during their time in active addiction. Substances can numb feelings that are needed to be felt to move on from the effects of trauma. Trauma counseling provides an opportunity for addicted individuals to identify, confront, and conquer the emotions they have been running from for so long. Our compassionate and highly trained psychologists are specialists in both addiction and trauma, so they have the tools to help our patients work through the effects of both ailments so individuals working on recovery can lead a healthy and happy life outside of treatment. Dialectic behavioral approaches to treatment help patients to further understand their behaviors and how they play a part of their addiction and responses to trauma. Also, trauma counseling helps women who have been affected by trauma to learn coping mechanisms and strategies that can be used to help prevent relapse once treatment concludes.
Dual Diagnosis Approach to Treatment
Those that are struggling with trauma and as a result have symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mood disorders are considered dual diagnosis patients. Dual diagnosis at The Willow Place for Women is a multi-dimensional treatment method that looks to address both addiction and mental illness simultaneously. Addiction and mental illness, much like the symptoms of trauma, play off of one another. The Willow Place for Women believes that to get the most out of treatment, all aspects of a person’s life must be explored for potential healing. For this purpose, we have implemented holistic, psychological, and medical approaches to addiction treatment. There is not a cure for addiction. It is not a physical disease like cancer or diabetes. There is no one cure for addiction, as each patient has a different experience and history with addiction. To completely heal the effects of addiction, we cannot simply mend the symptoms of addiction. We must look to other aspects that may be affecting a person’s addiction. For many, this aspect is mental illness or trauma, which must be uncovered before healing can commence. We know that our alternative approaches to addiction treatment provide our patients with a higher chance of attaining long-term sobriety and a life free from addiction.