In any addiction case, identifying and addressing the root cause of the addiction should be the first line of treatment. “Dual diagnosis” describes addiction cases in which a mental health disorder runs in tandem with an addiction.
Over time, the symbiosis between the mental health issue and the substance abuse create an extremely potent cycle of addiction. At Reflections Recovery Center, we believe breaking that cycle means taking a comprehensive approach to the individual’s condition, and that is exactly what trauma-informed therapy aims to do.
Why Focus on Trauma?
Trauma-focused approaches to substance abuse treatment generally report higher success rates than treatment programs that do not focus on past trauma.
While any approach to substance abuse should aim toward finding and remedying the root cause, trauma is one of the most commonly cited underlying causes of addiction. Recently, the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University concluded that almost 95 percent of all the people struggling with substance abuse have experienced some kind of trauma in their lives.
Understanding the Effects of Trauma
Violent accidents, criminal acts, natural disasters, armed conflict, sexual abuse, domestic abuse and witnessing horrific events can all cause traumas.
Traumatized individuals may struggle to reacclimate to normal life, struggle to perform basic life tasks or lose the sense of enjoyment they had when engaging in certain activities. Trauma can also create intense feelings of fear, anxiety and helplessness.
One of the most troubling aspects of trauma is the tendency of those suffering from it to attempt to manage it on their own. Those who try to curb the effects of their past traumas may try alcohol or drugs to escape from a difficult reality.
Most people with traumatic pasts struggle to feel safe around anything that triggers the memory of their traumas. Drugs and alcohol may help them temporarily feel more at ease with the world around them, but this feeling does not last.
Over time, self-medication may inevitably turn into full-blown addiction while the untreated trauma festers.
Types of Trauma-Specific Interventions
Interventions are a common tactic in substance abuse treatment. During these gatherings, family and friends of the person struggling with trauma and addiction get together to intervene on his or her behalf to show the person that they feel the effects of this substance abuse and want to help.
An intervention is likely to be the tipping point that pushes a person into rehab, and taking the right approach to this meeting is crucial. Trauma-specific intervention methods aim to work collaboratively with individuals suffering from trauma and substance abuse.
The ATRIUM Model
The Addiction and Trauma Recovery Integration Model (ATRIUM) is a 12-session therapy course suitable for groups and individuals. The ATRIUM model is one of the most commonly used addiction treatment frameworks in modern prisons, youth diversion programs, AIDS recovery centers and other organizations assisting those afflicted by trauma.
ATRIUM draws on multiple channels for support to help patients acknowledge and handle their past traumatic experiences in healthier ways.
The Risking Connection model emphasizes personal empowerment, interpersonal connections and collaboration. This model has seen various adaptations, each geared toward a specific audience.
Substance abuse can affect individuals in certain occupations or career paths in specific ways, and these models aim to treat the mental health issues, public health concerns and other effects of substance abuse in meaningful ways.
This trauma treatment model focuses on children who have experienced abusive, violent or traumatic past events. The Sanctuary Model is most often seen in:
- Public schools
- Domestic violence shelters
- Group homes
- Community centers
- Youth diversion programs
- Teen substance abuse treatment programs
- Acute care settings
- Many other programs focused on helping children
The Sanctuary Model aims to create a healing environment where traumatized individuals collaborate and function together to create more-effective methods for handling past traumas.
The Seeking Safety model is versatile and suitable for individual and group sessions. Additionally, this model works well for men, women and mixed-gender groups. The Seeking Safety model aims to address trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.
The overarching theme of the Seeking Safety model is, appropriately, safety. This model focuses on four main content areas: case management, cognition, behavior and interpersonal relationships.
Trauma, Addiction, Mental Health and Recovery (TAMAR)
The TAMAR Education Project is highly organized into a manualized 10-week intervention cycle. TAMAR uses multiple expressive therapies in conjunction with psychoeducational approaches to help those suffering from dual diagnoses in state psychiatric hospitals, detention centers and within communities.
Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET)
TARGET is an effective treatment model for all levels of care and age groups. This therapeutic approach strives to prevent and treat the symptoms of PTSD. Trauma survivors in the TARGET program learn practical skills to manage extreme emotions.
Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model (TREM)
This intervention model focuses on the survivors of physical or sexual violence. The TREM model exists for female patients, while men refer to the M-TREM model.
Many mental health institutions, substance abuse treatment centers and criminal justice organizations use the TREM and M-TREM methods to address co-occurring disorders across all age groups.
The EMDR Therapy Model
The Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing model (EMDR) has shown to be the modality capable of the best results when treating addiction and co-occurring disorders. EMDR therapy helps patients make sense of past traumatic experiences.
It’s very common for individuals with PTSD to have difficulty processing their past traumatic events, and EMDR helps these people manage their difficult memories with less distress.
Trauma-Informed Care at Reflections Recovery Center
EMDR provides excellent results for extreme cases of PTSD and trauma. Reflections Recovery Center has a team with specific insight into what best helps those who come to us for help. Rather than working from a spectrum of theories, we focus on what works best for the clients who come to us.
With that knowledge, our patients undergo EMDR and several other trauma-informed therapies to learn how to manage their difficult memories and form healthier coping mechanisms.
Ultimately, the types of therapies used in a certain substance abuse treatment program will have great influence over a patient’s success. At Reflections Recovery Center, we want to provide our clients with the best chance of reaching long-lasting sobriety. Trauma-informed therapies help us do that.