The need for trauma-informed care in substance abuse treatment is supported by clinical research, which suggests that trauma survivors are significantly more vulnerable to developing post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse addiction. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs cites two national epidemiological studies, demonstrating the strong association between PTSD and drug/alcohol dependence. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD, and an estimated 5.2 million Americans aged 18 to 54 are diagnosed with PTSD during the course of a given year, according to findings.
Advancements in neurological research inform evidence-based clinical practices, helping addiction professionals to understand how the brain processes traumatic experiences. Trauma- informed care aims to manage symptoms triggered by trauma and minimize re-traumatization through strengths-based approaches.
Licensed clinicians examine two areas of the brain that are involved in trauma processing — the Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis and the autonomic nervous system. As part of the central stress response system, the HPA axis is known as the “threat-appraisal of the brain,” which plays a fundamental role in an individual’s survival. When there is an environmental threat (real or imagined) to a person’s safety, it activates the HPA axis, which mobilizes the individual to react to or prepare for an injurious challenge to his or her well-being. The HPA axis sends signals to the autonomic nervous system, which produces the “fight or flight” responses to trauma. The autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems that regulate involuntary or unconscious bodily functions, such as breathing and heart rate. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the physiological responses whereas the parasympathetic system has a calming effect (i.e., lowers heart rate, slows down breathing, etc.) Prolonged or inappropriate activation of the HPA axis over the course of time produces long-term physical and psychological consequences.
Retelling events of the past that produced PTSD may re-traumatize the individual who’s sharing his or her personal story. Trauma-informed substance abuse counselors show sensitivity to their clients’ readiness to share their narrative. In short-term settings, counselors do not force their clients to be transparent; instead, they focus on other areas of healing, such as teaching them healthy coping mechanisms and new skills that will stabilize and prepare them for future trauma processing therapies, reducing the risk of harm.
Signs of trauma can be manifested in various ways, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and mood disorders. Trauma symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:
In the dual diagnosis setting at New Method Wellness, our multidisciplinary team of clinicians delivers client-centered care to reduce the treatment gap, which is evidenced by the separation of mental health and substance abuse treatment in many traditional settings. Some of the trauma- specific interventions offered at New Method Wellness include:
Unique to New Method Wellness’s programs is the 2:1 staff-to-client ratio, which means that every single client is paired with two therapists to ensure individualized attention and high-quality care. One of the top-rated addiction treatment centers in America, New Method Wellness offers a wide array of holistic programs that yield high success rates and long-term recovery. More than just a drug and alcohol rehab center, New Method Wellness aims to heal the whole individual – mind, body, and spirit.