Trauma is statistically underreported, not talked about enough, and, as anyone working on the addiction field will tell you, it’s everywhere.
PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We often associate the disorder with combat vets returning from deployment deeply disturbed by events that have transpired overseas. We often picture irritable old man scanning his living room for safety, suddenly finding themselves diving behind a couch because a car backfired.
While the number of vets struggling to overcome PTSD is a sad truth, the effects of trauma can be found much closer to home. In our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers who are struggling with the disease of addiction.
It’s no secret, we use substances to numb the pain we feel.
For those who have experience with PTSD and trauma symptoms they are numbing nightmares of being attacked, flashbacks of memories of abuse, panic attacks, and deep wells swimming with feelings of shame and unworthiness.
During the many years I’ve worked in this field as a trauma therapist, I’ve seen it all. Clients who have tried to stuff their emotions down, lock them up, and throw away the key of memories that have been so painful they have never told another soul before their work with me; even though they have called out silently through through the track marks and cuts on their arms and legs, the emergency room visits from another overdose, and isolating from those who love them.
And if your loved one didn’t already have trauma when they turned to their addiction, the mere nature of addiction will hand it to them on a platter of tears and pain. Addicts have seen friends die before their very eyes, seen drug deals go wrong, and sold their bodies for their next high. I have patients who have trauma that haunt them from highs gone badly.
Using drugs as an effort to self medicate the painful after effects of trauma is an aspect of addiction that is not talk about enough. And it should be, the survival of our loved ones is dependent on this conversation, albeit a difficult one, but most aspects of addiction are hard.
There is hope. People are doing this difficult self work and getting better.
In trauma work, we often talk about using grounding tools as coping skills when we feel triggered or anxious about what is happening in the world around us.
These tools are really helpful to have in your toolbox. They can be used in any order, and work best when you have practiced using them before you feel like you are in a crisis, just like a baseball player practices over and over before a big game.
Practice these tools so you’re ready to use them whether you are having an anxious day or a full blown panic attack. These tools can even help you stay present for what is happening in your day to day life!
You can download the Rockstar’s guide to grounding tools HERE!
There are many types of counseling and trauma treatments that are helping clients like EMDR, psychosomatic processing, and types of clinical hypnotherapy like Rapid Resolution Therapy. There are treatment centers that offer trauma treatment alongside formal chemical dependency treatment.
There are talented, trained professionals that are helping their clients, and your loved ones, move through trauma and towards a life of hope and resiliency. Find them!
Lindy Ariff, LCSW is the founder of I AM A ROCKSTAR. She is a Rockstar, a clinically trained social worker, certified hypnotherapist, and healing professional. She has nurtured and guided hundreds of clients in aligning mind, body, and soul. You can connect with her on the Contact page on I AM A ROCKSTAR. Visit her blog and connect with her at HealwithLindy.com.