Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as an emotional response to a terrible event. Individuals may develop trauma after being directly involved in one or more traumatic events, after witnessing one or more traumatic events, or after learning the details of a loved one’s involvement in one or more traumatic events. Among the many types of occurrences that can lead to trauma are military combat, automobile accidents, life-threatening illnesses, physical or sexual assault, violence at the hands of an intimate partner, natural disasters, child abuse, verbal or online harassment, and the sudden loss of a loved one.
Almost everyone will experience sadness and other unpleasant emotions in the aftermath of difficult events, such as those just previously listed. However, individuals who develop trauma will experience physical and psychological distress with an intensity that can undermine their ability to live a healthy and productive life. Symptoms of trauma often begin to develop within a few months of the traumatic event, but this is not always the case. In some cases, individuals have not experienced trauma symptoms until years after the traumatic occurrence or occurrences.
As described in greater detail in a later section on this page, the signs and symptoms of trauma can include a myriad of distressing experiences that can cause significant changes in a person’s lifestyle and that can, in the absence of effective professional treatment, result in long-term damage. Untreated trauma can also lead to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
The good news for individuals who have been struggling with trauma is that it is treatable. With proper professional care, which may involve time in a residential treatment center, men and women whose lives have been disrupted by trauma can learn to manage their symptoms and can develop the skills and strategies that will empower them to regain control over their lives and resume their pursuit of a healthier and more satisfying future. Additionally, if the effects of trauma accompany a substance use disorder, seeking such care can signify the beginning of a truly healed life.
According to the advocacy organization PTSD United, as many as 70% of adults in the United States, or more than 223 million men and women, have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives. About 20 percent of these individuals, or more than 44 million people, will develop PTSD. Trauma disproportionately impacts women, with the National Center on PTSD reporting that about 10 percent of women will develop PTSD, while only about 4 percent of men will.
Signs and Symptoms of Trauma
Trauma symptoms may vary widely from person to person, but the following are among the more common signs that may indicate that a man or woman is struggling with trauma:
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Loss of interest in significant activities
- Acting in a dangerous, reckless, or otherwise risky manner
- Socially inappropriate behaviors
- Anger and aggressiveness
- Agitation and restlessness
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Chronic fatigue and/or persistent feeling of exhaustion
- Elevated heart rate
- Persistent aches, pains, and/or muscle tension
- Prevalent unexplainable headaches and/or abdominal pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Sleep disturbances
- Hypersensitive startle response
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Forgetfulness or absentmindedness
- Nightmares and/or night terrors
- Persistent intrusive memories
- Persistent sense of hopelessness
- Extreme mood swings
- Diminished self-image
- Persistent sense of shame and/or guilt
Effects of Trauma
An individual who struggles with untreated trauma may be at risk for a myriad of negative effects and outcomes, including the following:
- Substance abuse and chemical dependency
- Inability to form and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships
- Family discord
- Academic and/or occupational setbacks
- Job loss and chronic unemployment
- Financial problems
- Physical harm related to dangerous or otherwise unsafe behaviors
- Legal problems, including arrest and incarceration, related to aggressive or otherwise reckless behaviors
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Suicidal ideation
- Suicide attempts
Individuals who struggle with trauma and trauma-related disorders may also be at an increased risk for the following co-occurring mental health disorders:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Depressive disorders
- Substance use disorders
Why Seek Treatment for Trauma
Untreated trauma can have a profoundly negative impact on virtually all aspects of an individual’s life. Without proper professional care, men and women who struggle with trauma may experience symptoms that overwhelm their ability to work, attend school, maintain healthy interpersonal relationships, achieve financial independence, and otherwise participate in a productive and satisfying life. As discussed in greater detail in earlier sections of this page, untreated trauma can lead to a wide range of immediate and long-term damage to an individual’s physical and psychological health, including potentially irreversible repercussions.
With effective comprehensive treatment, however, an individual can overcome the damage of trauma and can learn to live a healthier and more promising life. Individualized treatment, often featuring a variety of interventions and techniques such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and various experiential therapies, can lead to a dramatic reduction in symptoms and a significantly enhanced quality of life.
Depending on the specific strengths, needs, and goals of an individual who is being treated for trauma at Huntington Creek Recovery Center, the following elements may be incorporated into his or her personalized treatment plan:
Detoxification services: Men and women who come to Huntington Creek Recovery Center looking to recover and heal from an addiction to substances and co-occurring mental illnesses, such as trauma-related disorders, may arrive at our center physically dependent upon a particular drug. When this is the case, our staff will recommend detoxification services, or detox, as the preliminary step in an individual’s care. Our non-hospital detox can help to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, and patients are welcome to participate in our clinical programming at the same time as receiving this type of treatment.
Medication management: During the first week of a patient’s stay at Huntington Creek Recovery Center, a meeting with our psychologist is scheduled to determine if medication will help the patient experience relief from the symptoms of trauma. If medication management services are warranted, individuals can then meet with our psychologist and have the progress of his or her medication(s) supervised by our medical director and detox nurses. By receiving care for one’s mental health concerns, if any, while working to overcome an addiction, a person is more likely to experience more favorable treatment outcomes.
Individual therapy: Held at least two to three times per week, individual therapy can be instrumental to a person’s recovery journey at Huntington Creek Recovery Center. Each patient is assigned a primary counselor, who can help him or her process his or her experiences with substance abuse, establish healthy skills for managing the symptoms of trauma, and carve out goals for both the present and future. This method of care is purposefully included to give patients the one-on-one support and attention they need at this phase in their healing process.
Group therapy: Designed to offer patients support, encouragement, and guidance in a more communal setting, group therapy sessions are an integral part of Huntington Creek Recovery Center’s care. These sessions can help patients learn from others who may also be struggling with trauma-related disorders, develop more refined recovery skills, and form the confidence needed to overcome their chemical dependency concerns. Among the various groups that we offer, the following are those that may be incorporated into a patient’s personalized treatment plan:
- Open therapy groups
- Anxiety group
- Coping skills group
- Psychoeducational groups
- Trauma group
- 12-Step topic groups
- Gender-specific groups
Family therapy: So as to help those closest to our patients, Huntington Creek Recovery Center’s programming also features family therapy sessions during weekly family visits. Conducted by each patient’s primary counselor, family therapy can assist the men and women who come for treatment and their loved ones in the pursuit of becoming a united front against substance abuse. Additionally, we are pleased to provide family members and other loved ones with updates on the patient’s progress so they can know how he or she is progressing as he or she works to defeat an addiction and heal from a trauma-related disorder.
Experiential therapy: One of the most beneficial and transformative aspects of treatment at Huntington Creek Recovery Center is the inclusion of experiential therapies into programming. Experiential therapies help individuals form a powerful connection between their minds, bodies, and spirits as they work towards overcoming addictions and learning to manage co-occurring mental health conditions, such as trauma-related disorders. This treatment method is featured in each patient’s customized treatment plan so that he or she is able to experience a more profound sense of balance in his or her life. The following experiential therapy opportunities are those that may be included as part of an individual’s recovery experience at Huntington Creek Recovery Center:
- NA meetings
- Team building exercises
- AA meetings
- Nature walks
- Campfire groups
- Patient outings
- Ropes course
- Biofeedback bed
- Gym time
- Mini golfing
Some of the above treatment methods are automatically incorporated into each patient’s treatment plan, while others will be added if they are deemed necessary to an individual’s care. The decision to include or omit a method of care can be made at any time during a person’s time with us, and is always done in the best interest of the patient.
In addition to top notch treatment, Huntington Creek Recovery Center offers thorough discharge planning as part of each patient’s recovery experience. From an individual’s very first week at our center, our staff works closely with the individuals who come for care to determine the resources and services that will aid them in continuing their recovery success once they have finished our programming. The overarching goal for structuring discharge planning in this way is to ensure that patients will be able to stick with their recovery goals and be able to manage trauma symptoms in the healthiest of ways.
If you or your loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and is suffering from co-occurring trauma, the search for a high quality provider of life-saving treatment is over. Huntington Creek Recovery Center is where you or someone you care about can begin the brave journey towards a better life. Call us today to learn more about our programming, schedule an assessment, or understand how we have been able to help so many men and women overcome the obstacles that had been preventing them from living healthier and more satisfying lives.