Trauma Informed Addiction Treatment

Trauma Informed Addiction Treatment

Treatment Approaches to Support Clients with Trauma

In some instances of substance abuse, finding the mental health challenge at the center of drug abuse is difficult and often takes much analysis to diagnose correctly. This is from the standpoint of someone who works in mental health services professionally – and for the user, figuring out why they engage in drug or alcohol abuse can be even more difficult. Trauma-informed addiction treatment helps yield such insights and get to the root, underlying causes of a substance use disorder.

The approach of trauma-informed addiction treatment aims for a specific traumatic event, or several traumatic events, that causes psychological trauma and lead to mental health disorders and substance abuse. In many substance abuse cases, traumatic events are at the root of the addiction. Sometimes the traumatic event is prominent and has a noticeable effect on mental health. Other times, like in adverse childhood experiences, the traumatic event can be forgotten but lies deep in the subconscious mind.

Engaging in substance abuse is often what keeps these memories blocked – but that’s not processing adverse childhood experiences or any traumatic memory. Actual progress in recovery requires trauma-informed care approaches such as those we employ at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab.

In this article, you’ll learn about trauma-informed care about substance abuse, the specifics of a trauma-informed approach, and how to identify if you are potentially dealing with a trauma-driven drug or alcohol abuse disorder.

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What Is Trauma Informed Care?

Trauma-informed care is a specific treatment regimen used for substance abuse and mental health services to address trauma as the cause of substance use disorders and other mental health challenges.

How does trauma-informed care differ from other addiction treatment options?

How does trauma-informed care differ from other addiction treatment

Trauma-informed addiction treatment uses specific guidelines outlined by the SAMHSA, typically used by the most well-reviewed substance abuse treatment facilities. It’s this series of steps that creates a clear framework for the trauma-informed approach during addiction treatment and includes the following:

  1. Realize the far-reaching effects of trauma and identify possible routes to recovery.
  2. Recognize the obvious and subtle signs and symptoms of different forms of trauma.
  3. Seek to be proactive in avoiding subsequent instances of re-traumatization.

There are also six separate key guiding principles regarding trauma-informed care. These principles include:

  1. Safety. Safety is one of the essential elements of trauma-informed care. Those who have experienced trauma and trauma symptoms are triggered easily with a high risk of flashing back to their major event, leading to an emotional response. Their bodies are under the weight of stress hormones that cause physical and emotional challenges. Clients should feel safe and secure in their environment during trauma therapy.
  2. Trust and Transparency. Those who have experienced trauma undergoing trauma-informed care and the professionals implementing trauma-informed care must have a certain level of confidence. It’s important the client feels they can be open in their communication and trust their information is safe and their best interests are at heart.
  3. Peer Support. Participants must have support from their peers during treatment. Those who go through trauma-informed care are often reluctant to talk about what they’ve experienced. It’s common for these clients to develop trust issues – making peer support and collaboration one of the essential parts of this type of treatment.
  4. Collaboration. Treatment centers must promote the idea that healing happens in relationships. This includes relationships between clients, clients and staff, and clients and people who may have even been a part of their trauma in some cases. Trauma-informed care is all about building trust during the addiction treatment experience, and working together with one another for staff and clients on all levels is vital.
  5. Empowerment. During trauma-informed care, it’s also essential that the facility selected to treat trauma instills that they’re not rulers of the clients. They’re put in place to promote healing and offer guidance. In the past, substance abuse rehabs were seen as more strict with an authoritarian environment. However, it’s understood that the best course of action is to allow the client to direct their recovery. This establishes more of a feeling of accomplishment in the end.
  6. Discrimination. One of the most important values of any facility that treats substance use disorders and provides trauma-informed care is to not judge or discriminate against any client based on their sexual orientation, gender, race, age, gender identity, or any other characteristic about them. All clients must be respected equally regardless of any of these elements.

The idea behind these lists regarding trauma-informed care is to give professionals a framework for providing an atmosphere where clients can feel comfortable. The environment should be supportive and understanding and lead clients in helping them to understand their traumas and how they led to substance use disorder.

Symptoms of Trauma During Substance Use Disorder

Symptoms of Trauma During Substance Use Disorder

Trauma-based mental health disorders appear because of traumatic events. However, because so many forms of trauma exist and may lay dormant for such an extended period, the symptoms evolved – especially about substance use disorder – can be challenging to spot and identify.

In some more severe cases, like post-traumatic stress order, the symptoms are likely to be much easier to spot. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the most common of all trauma-induced disorders.

PTSD can cause many symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and intense emotional reactions to specific triggers. People with PTSD may also experience depression, anxiety, and difficulty functioning daily. Certain events, like loud noises, yelling and screaming, gunshots, and fireworks, may set them off. This is because PTSD is common in veterans of war – but in other cases, whatever caused the PTSD will trigger episodes whenever the person relives the event, or something reminds them of it.

Sometimes, the symptoms are more subtle or masked by the users’ substance use disorders. They may include any of the following:

  • Avoiding certain events or human interactions because of their fears.
  • General feeling or sentiment of being numb – you might have a difficult time picking up on any emotions out of specific individuals.
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Extreme difficulty concentrating and staying on task
  • They may display a constant sense of irritability
  • Anger could also manifest in unhealthy ways at any given moment.

Besides post-traumatic stress disorder, what are some of the most common stress-induced mental health disorders?

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What Types of Disorders are Treated During Trauma Informed Care?

During trauma-informed care, clients experience several different mental health disorders that stem from trauma. The following list describes the most frequently experienced disorders after a significant trauma:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

As described above, PTSD is brought on by multiple types of trauma. It’s long-term, and the symptoms aren’t sporadic. Generally, the individual is sent into an episode without fail whenever triggers manifest. This is one of the more intense forms of trauma-induced disorders.

Secondhand Trauma

Secondary trauma is unique in that it doesn’t stem from the direct trauma of the individual who suffers from it – but instead from witnessing another person’s trauma. This is a common disorder among those who serve as emergency medical technicians or work in a hospital’s emergency room or intensive care unit.

Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

These forms of trauma-related disorders are generally present in children and are usually induced by a lack of loving relationships at a young age. They have no healthy fear of strangers and would likely exhibit behaviors such as getting into the car with someone they don’t know.

Adjustment Disorders

An adjustment disorder happens due to a life-changing event requiring a significant change in your routine. This usually happens in cases of the loss of a job, divorce, being diagnosed with an illness, or losing a loved one. While usually one of the milder forms of these disorders, it’s also possible to experience full-blown psychosis in those more fragile mentally.

Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder is similar to PTSD but happens in shorter spans and at random times. Severe episodes may be more sporadic in those with these forms of trauma-induced illness.

Using Trauma-Informed Care to Aid In These Disorders

Evidence-based therapy is a treatment that focuses on utilizing evidence from research to guide the therapeutic process. Typically evidence-based therapies are considered the gold standard in trauma-informed practices.

Evidence-based therapy is based on the idea that treatments should be tailored to individual needs and preferences, considering the client’s unique history and current circumstances. This type of therapy uses evidence from research to inform treatment decisions, such as which types of interventions are most effective for any of the specific disorders mentioned above or otherwise.

Most Common Types Trauma Informed Practice Methods

Most Common Types Trauma Informed Practice Method

Evidence-based therapy for trauma and substance abuse disorder typically involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These therapies focus on helping individuals identify and modify their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to reduce symptoms associated with these disorders. Additionally, other evidence-based treatments may be used depending on the individual’s needs.

At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, this is decided upon during the clients’ intake with us. This is when we put together a personalized treatment plan and outline each client’s steps to experience recovery. The section below outlines some of the more traditional methods used for trauma-related mental disorders.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy used to treat various mental health issues, including substance abuse and trauma. CBT focuses on helping people identify and modify negative thoughts and behaviors contributing to their distress. People can learn to manage their overall quality of life by improving their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions and improving. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we often use CBT with other therapies, such as medication or holistic approaches, to provide the most effective treatment for an individual’s needs.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT is another central healing element during trauma-informed care. It helps individuals identify and modify unhealthy behaviors that contribute to nkl abuse and teaches them skills for managing difficult emotions and reducing stress. Research has found that DBT is associated with improved outcomes in terms of decreased substance use, improved mental health symptoms, and better quality of life overall.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

This type of treatment, known as EMDR, is one of the newer types of trauma-informed therapy. It requires the client to close their eyes and relive the traumatic events that drive their symptoms and substance use while recollecting everything they can by memory.

This deals with the linking of thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, when experiencing a certain feeling or sensation during our trauma, we link these feelings with the trauma, causing them to trigger symptoms when we encounter them in the future. For example – let’s say you were in a terrible car crash in the rain. During the collision, you probably heard raindrops on the window, saw raindrops, and maybe felt the rain on your skin.

This can disrupt the senses between your feelings and your memories and causes an actual injury to your brain. During the treatment, you reprocess the events that happened to you in detail. Since you’ve most likely blocked them out, this allows you to process them correctly, and your brain relinks how you experience the feelings triggering you.

Holistic forms of therapy are also used for substance abuse and trauma symptoms. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, these are significant components of our care system.

Holistic Treatment for Symptoms of Trauma and Emotional Abuse

Using holistic treatments to treat patients during recovery has been highly effective at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. Combined with more traditional forms of care, we believe we’ve found the perfect blend of each to give our clients the best chances for success and to become educated regarding triggers and other elements of trauma.

Listed below is just a small sample of the types of holistic options we offer during our trauma-informed rehab program:


Reiki is a holistic therapy that has recently gained traction for its ability to help people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is a gentle, non-invasive energy healing practice that can reduce anxiety and stress levels while also helping promote physical, mental, and emotional healing. Reiki helps to bring balance back into the body and mind by clearing away any negative energies or blockages. Restoring balance and harmony within the body can help those who have PTSD to find relief from their symptoms.


Holistic Treatment for Symptoms of Trauma

Yoga is the most well-known of all of our holistic healing practices. With various stretches and maneuvers, yoga helps you practice physical and mental wellness, in addition to helping with focus, stamina, and endurance. A clean body equals a pure mind, and our main priority at EHR is to get one in synch with the other for a comprehensive healing experience.

Surf Therapy

Surf therapy could be considered the gold standard for PTSD in holistic treatment. This form of holistic healing was explicitly created to cater to soldiers who returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan with crippling symptoms of PTSD. Originating in California, the program was hugely successful and began spreading through mental health and substance abuse facilities nationwide. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we’re proud to offer surf therapy as part of our trauma-informed personalized treatment plan. The setting couldn’t be more perfect than the one in our front yard. Surrounded by the beautiful waters and majestic surf of the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll enjoy some of the best aquatic therapy and reap the healing benefits of the Pacific.

Experience True Healing

Our deeply-caring staff and the surrounding natural beauty offer an unparalleled healing experience.

Enjoy Our Trauma Informed Program at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of trauma, it’s important that you get help as soon as possible. Unchecked emotional trauma only gets more severe as time goes on – ultimately becoming a crippling disorder that can turn your world upside down.

Mix in substance abuse challenges, and you’ve got the potential for an extremely dangerous situation. Luckily, at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we’re able to counter both with a one-two combination of standard practices and holistic options.

During our intake process, we’ll perform an assessment to gauge the level of severity of your current situation, along with other pertinent information and physical condition. We’ll start creating a personalized treatment plan so you can begin healing in a way that’s best suited to your needs. We offer dual diagnosis options, medically-assisted detox, and other options to help you achieve the recovery results you’ve been looking for.

We accept most forms of insurance, and the initial call is free. Don’t let trauma be the end of your story – you’ve got plenty of living to do. If you’re ready to start reclaiming your life and discover something amazing about yourself, contact a member of our Intake Coordination team for a confidential consultation today!