Following trauma, you must seek help from your support network and utilize available resources. While a traumatic event will always be a part of you, you are not destined to be damaged forever. With proper support from loved ones and treatment, you can move on from horrible events from your past.
What Is Trauma?
Trauma is more commonplace than a lot of people may think. It can take many different shapes and forms. Some people experience repeated traumatic events, while other people experience isolated incidents. Traumatic events can be difficult to identify because they are characterized by how you perceive them. Generally, trauma can be described as a stressful event or series of events that trigger a sense of “fight-or-flight” and feelings of horror and hopelessness. Events that can cause trauma include:
- Natural disasters
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Life-threatening events
- Unexpected death
- Terrorist events
Two people can experience the same event and it can trigger trauma in one person and not in the other. Experiencing these events alone does not necessarily lead to trauma. Many different factors contribute to how you perceive a potentially traumatic event. Some trauma symptoms include the following:
- Experiencing anxiety or fearfulness
- Frequently crying
- Feeling unfocused
- Having frightening thoughts, flashbacks, or nightmares
- Difficulties sleeping
- Avoiding places, people, or items that remind the person of the event
Substance Use Following Trauma
Trauma and substance use disorder (SUD) are highly comorbid with one another. Many people turn to substances to manage intense negative emotions that are overwhelming and sometimes even paralyzing. Substances can numb these overwhelming emotions. While this may provide you with some comfort in the short term, in the long term, numbing your feelings will cause them to intensify. Any type of avoidance coping mechanism makes it impossible to healthily process your emotions surrounding traumatic events. This can have you feeling trapped by your past and unable to think or dream about the future. It can make you become dysfunctional and cause you to live a life of fear.
PTSD and Substance Use
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by trauma symptoms that last longer than a month. Not everyone who experiences trauma automatically develops PTSD. It depends on how well you process trauma. The comorbidity between substance abuse and PTSD is high. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about 59% of young people with PTSD abuse substances.
Typically, the type of support system you have greatly influences how you perceive and process potentially traumatic events. This can result in not viewing an event as traumatic or having an easier time processing negative emotions surrounding the event.
Proper Support FollowingTrauma
A good support system involves diverse forms of support. This means support from family, community, and loved ones. It also means support from available resources. The more diverse your support system is, the more equipped you will be to process trauma. When you have a robust support system, you have people and structures to lean on during difficult times.
Having a robust support system will make you feel less lonely – and because you’ll feel less lonely, you will feel less hopeless. Your support network can also lend you advice, perspective, and comfort that can help you more easily process your trauma. It’s easier to process difficult emotions when you have a space where it is safe and welcome to talk about your thoughts, feelings, and struggles.
Finding a Place to Recover From Trauma
Not everyone is blessed with a sense of community. You might need to seek out and create your own community to build your support network. Community can be found in such settings as online spaces, local activity clubs, volunteer work, or local support groups. The more open you are to letting people into your life, the easier it will be for you to make meaningful connections with others who can turn into important members of your support group. Treatment facilities like Restoration Recovery Centers can be a great source for creating a support network. Many of the peers you meet and mental health professionals you build relationships with will continue to be part of your support group outside of treatment.
Finding Healing Following Trauma
Healing takes time, self-reflection, and patience. The worst thing you can do when faced with traumatic memories is to shut your feelings off. Several different types of therapies that facilities like Restoration Recovery Centers offer can help you heal from trauma. This includes psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
Since the comorbidity between trauma and SUD is so high, many facilities like Restoration Recovery Centers have a trauma-centered approach to care. This type of approach is considerate of your trauma triggers as mental health professionals work with you to reprocess your trauma.
You are not destined to be trapped in any feeling forever. However, trauma can only be processed once you acknowledge your emotions surrounding the traumatic event. At Restoration Recovery Centers, we can provide you with the tools you need to better understand and process your trauma. We pride ourselves in fostering a non-judgmental community where you can connect with peers and grow your support network. Our mental health professionals will work with you to create a plan that suits your recovery goals. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, call (888) 290-0925 to learn how Restoration Recovery Centers can help you restore your life’s purpose and heal from addiction.