Many seeking treatment for addiction and alcoholism have experience some form of trauma. Some may be suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The symptoms of PTSD can include visceral flashbacks, or, a re-experiencing of intense feelings associated with a traumatic event. Insomnia and severe anxiety are also commonly related to trauma. The difficulty of extreme trauma often plays a role in perpetuating addictions. This is why at Inspire Recovery, group therapy sessions that deal specifically with the issue of trauma are provided for our clientele.
In our trauma groups, clients are welcomed into a secure atmosphere where it is safe to share about their trauma history with receptive therapists and supportive peers. Approaches like Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Seeking Safety (a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy designed for PTSD and addiction) are used in this group and the benefits of these evidence-based psychological techniques are made available to the clients.
Seeking Safety is an especially useful treatment model in trauma therapy and it is particularly helpful to those with co-occurring substance abuse disorders. For addicts and alcoholics suffering the effects of trauma, their substance use can often be categorized as a coping mechanism. However ineffective and destructive it may be, it is, nonetheless, a coping strategy. The substance use is a behavior engaged in as a reaction to something else—their trauma.
Seeking Safety offers a broad array of effective and safe coping skills for clients to utilize in response to their trauma. Within the framework of Seeking Safety, these coping skills are referred to with various titles like, “Choose Self-Respect,” and “Create a New Story.” The coping skill called “Create a New Story,” for example, involves redefining what kinds of character traits one might create for themselves in the context of their lives. This is one way people who identify themselves as victims can begin to see themselves in new light—as survivors, as heroes. Methods like these can empower clients to claim responsibility over their actions and refrain from placing the blame on traumatic events from their past for the way their life is in the present.
In the weekly Trauma Therapy Group, clients have the option to bring up and process insights related to their trauma they may have gained through their individual EMDR sessions. Clients can discuss any difficulties they may be experiencing in implementing coping skills and ask for help. It is an important group for personal growth, changing behavior and changing harmful thinking patterns.