Trauma focused counseling focused counseling is necessary when a patient warrants a dual diagnosis, or a diagnosis that asserts the patient is suffering from a substance or behavioral addiction and a mental disorder. In this case, patients exhibiting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will receive trauma focused counseling in addition to addiction-specific therapy.
PTSD and Addiction
The subjective nature of trauma means that some people remain marginally affected by an extremely stressful experience while others are overwhelmed psychologically and find it difficult to cope with life following a traumatic incident. Post traumatic stress disorder is commonly seen in victims of war, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse. Due to lack of knowledge about PTSD, fear of stigma or financial instability that prevents them from seeking complex trauma treatment, people with PTSD often resort to alcohol or drug abuse to alleviate the psychic pain of the trauma.
Individuals impaired by PTSD present symptoms such as:
Flashbacks, or intrusive memories of the traumatic incident that are unpreventable
Persistent states of hypervigilance and hyperarousal
Disruption of sleep patterns due to nightmares, insomnia and night terrors (especially in children or adolescents)
Feelings of being emotionally numb, depersonalized and alienated from society
Inability to establish long-term, meaningful relationships
Clinical depression and suicidal ideation
Frequent episodes of panic attacks that may develop into agoraphobia
Physical problems resulting from a chronic state of anxiety—weight loss, migraines, hypertension and cardiovascular disease
In a desperate attempt to self-treat and cope with unbearably painful feelings, PTSD sufferers often become substance abusers in order to repress memories, thoughts and nightmares that remind them of the trauma. Because this relief is only temporary, they quickly become addicted to alcohol or drugs as the body and brain continues to exceed each tolerance level that is reached. When not under the influence of an addictive substance, PTSD victims experience worsening symptoms due to radical fluctuations in the chemical architecture of the brain. Although PTSD and addiction can be an even more vicious cycle of alternating between momentary relief and excruciating emotional pain, trauma focused counseling provided by Gooden Center can help patients overcome the addiction aspect while learning how to effectively manage stress, obsessive thoughts and the destruction that trauma inflicts on their self-identity.