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What is Trauma Informed Care?

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In our last post, we discussed how medication management was critical to a robust spectrum of care in addiction treatment. This is due to the fact that substance use disorders are comorbid with mental health conditions such as clinical or episodic depression and anxiety disorders. Trauma is often a precursor to mental health conditions. SAMHSA states that exposure to adverse events such as discrimination, violence, abuse, etc, can increase a person’s lifelong potential for health problems and complications stemming from high-risk behaviors or conditions.

In other words, trauma is often at the root of many mental health conditions and debilitating physical conditions such as substance use and dependency. Recognizing the role that trauma plays in perpetuating cycles of abuse is key to stopping the cycle and promoting healing and recovery. This is called trauma informed care.

Perspectives on Trauma Informed Care

Much like our post about alcoholism as a disease, trauma informed care begins with an important perspective shift. Trauma informed care is assessing a patient and instead of asking what is wrong with them, you ask what they’ve experienced, what they’ve gone through. Needless to say, this is a much more compassionate approach to treatment, one that we greatly believe in and employ ourselves.

The focus of trauma informed care is not so much a process of attempting to heal trauma, but rather bring it into the light where the effects of the trauma can be realized by the person suffering from them. When trauma is left unchecked and unaddressed, it can lead to hopelessness, anxiety, depression, and the development of maladaptive coping strategies which often precede the development of addiction.

Trauma Informed Care Addiction Treatment

Encore’s approach to trauma informed care relies on a few promising methods that are applied therapeutically for the treatment of trauma.

EMDR Therapy

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This extensively researched psychotherapy protocol relies more on the patient’s ability to process traumatizing events that have occurred in the past through their own intellectual and emotional faculties.

This is done by asking the patient to hold different aspects of the traumatizing event or hold a thought about it in mind. The patient is then asked to follow the quickly moving hand of the therapist which is intended to replicate the effect of REM sleep—rapid eye movement. REM sleep is thought to be critical to the processing of the day’s events and ordering them in your mind.

Treating Addiction with Somatic Experiencing

Somatic experiencing is a body-oriented approach that is founded on the belief that trauma can remain trapped in the nervous system as unexpressed movements. Somatic experiencing is there to support and coax the nervous system into completing self-protective responses that were initially stifled or suppressed.

Somatic Resilience and Regulation (SRR) is an integrated approach that includes somatic experiencing to assist with trauma resolution. Aspects of sensorimotor and psychotherapy are utilized in this approach that is keenly focused on addressing developmental trauma. Physical touch is also used as a tool for strengthening and building up patient’s resilience and self-regulation, though the process is not dependent on it.

Brainspotting borrows from the powerful practice of mindfulness based intervention that focuses on releasing traumatic memories that are “trapped” deep in the subcortical region of the brain. Unresolved memories have been shown to be a kind of weight on the individual, that they carry around each day. This cognitive burden interferes with daily functioning and while hidden, drives compulsive behaviors, addictions, and other actions unconsciously.

Brainspotting works by attempting to downregulate the amydala to promote targeting healing.

Trauma Informed Addiction Treatment VA

All of these strategies requires specialized skills and experienced, something that Encore has cultivated through our wonderful and dedicated staff.

If you or a loved one are struggling with a substance use disorder, reach out to Encore Recovery today. Our staff and approaches to treatment all come from a place of compassion and understanding. Take the first step today.

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