It’s no secret that recovering addicts and alcoholics can suffer from a great deal of emotional trauma. Whether it be by our own actions or someone else’s, it is usually pretty common that our drinking and drug use would be used to mask the pain of dark times and dark memories. Now that we are sober, we must be willing to face and come to terms with the emotional trauma of our past, we must, or it will always take us back out.
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Having Emotional Trauma
What exactly is trauma? Emotional and psychological trauma are the brain’s reaction to an extremely distressing event or chain of events. The amount of stress will usually surpass the person’s ability to cope with and move on from the experience. This inability to cope can affect a person in all aspects of their lives and can hinder relationships, jobs, and emotional well-being. The onset of trauma can come in all different shapes and sizes for all people. When we think of trauma, we usually think of some sort of life-threatening event such as a car accident, war, child abuse, or rape. For people in recovery, these traumatic experiences can often shape who we are subconsciously, and can often hinder us in really progressing in our program and getting back into the flow of life.
There are multiple types of events that can cause trauma in a person that range from one-time events, to prolonged experiences over time. People are most commonly affected by trauma from an event if the situation was overwhelming emotionally, if it left them feeling alone and helpless, if it was something that was out of their control, and if it happened repeatedly. One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with trauma is that it can be hard for others to relate to the affected because each person qualifies trauma relatively. While one person could be deeply affected by an event, another person may not be as affected by it and vice versa.
Many sober addicts and alcoholics suffer from childhood trauma. This could have been a single event or series of events that most likely play a role in the development and severity of their using. It is very common for addicts and alcoholics to come from families of addicts and alcoholics, or to have been the children of divorce, abuse, and abandonment. While this is not the case for all recovering addicts and alcoholics, it is pretty common for us to have any range of a single or multiple traumatic events at one point in our past. Emotional trauma can be extremely difficult for people who are recovering from addiction. As we all know, we have enough on our plate with kicking our habit and trying to function as a responsible human being. Adding in levels of painful memories and mental turmoil doesn’t make the process any easier. Emotional trauma can leave a person feeling detached, anxious, and skeptical of trusting people around them.
How Trauma can Affect us Long-Term
While we are not the only people who go through hard times and hard experiences, we are the only people who will die if we do not rid ourselves of our attachment to these memories. Over time, these memories and traumas become resentments. Resentment is defined as any recurring thoughts that can present pain, grief, sadness, anger, etc. According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which has been vital in the recovery of millions of addicts and alcoholics for the last 80 years, tells us that in order to rid ourselves of our mental obsession to use, we must clear out the resentments of our past. The primary reason we have to face these resentments is because, to put it simply, they take up too much of our lives when we hold onto them. We cannot focus on becoming better when we are in constant remorse, guilt, shame, fear, and anger of our past. This is where a lot of trauma comes to play for people, as many of us have had difficult and upsetting events occur throughout the years. If we fail to remove the hold that these events keep on us, we will not be able to maintain a healthy and progressive sober life. After we have worked our steps, if we still find that we are not completely over our trauma, or would like to delve deeper into the memories in the aim to remove them, we can receive further help from trauma counselors and intensive therapists.
How to Deal
While emotional trauma can affect everyone a little bit differently, the general symptoms and side effects of it remain along the same general categories of ailments. For example, trauma can cause anxiety, inability to sleep, night terrors, depression, suspicion, and paranoia. Experience does show that people can overcome emotional trauma through a structured program of recovery and a strong support system. The program of recovery is usually based on researched psychiatric methods, one of them being Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic memories through reassociating the old memory pathways into new ones that promote cognitive insight and the elimination of emotional distress. In other words, it retrains the mind to remove the emotional block associated with the memory so that the mind can heal the wound. It sounds a little strange, but many people have reported a lessening or complete reduction of their traumas after undergoing EMDR therapy.
Dealing with emotional trauma in any walk of life is a heavy load that often creates a feeling of isolation in sufferers. However, the program of recovery allows people who suffer from trauma to be opened up to a network of people who have walked a similar path in life. The greatest gift of sobriety is that we are now enveloped by a fellowship that is non-judgmental, is understanding, and is accepting of us. No matter how far down the rabbit hole we may have been in our lives, it is guaranteed that somewhere out there is another member of the fellowship who knows exactly what you have been through and has overcome it.
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Freedom From Addiction
If you have found yourself or a loved one suffering from alcoholism or addiction, you are not alone! If you are ready to change your life and live free of addiction, then FindAddictionRehabs.com can help. We give you the jump start to recovery you need. Our holistic program is unique in that it doesn’t just treat the addiction, it treats the whole person. For more information on our program, call 1-877-959-7271 today.