Emotional Healing
The Role of Trauma Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Unresolved trauma and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. Not only are people who experience trauma at higher risk of abusing chemical substances, but people who struggle with addiction are at higher risk of undergoing traumatic experiences. Studies of people in treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction repeatedly find high rates of childhood trauma. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which studies the link between trauma and addiction, found adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, to be important predictors when it comes to the development of substance abuse and dependence. ACEs are linked to a range of issues experienced by adults including mental illness, chronic health issues and addiction. However, undergoing a traumatic experience can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age or personal background. At Guardian IOP we offer trauma therapy specifically designed for clients who have been struggling with substance abuse and unresolved trauma. We offer a range of evidence-based therapies which have proven beneficial for resolving trauma and helping clients move on from the painful memories and emotional barriers which have been keeping them stuck. To learn more about the trauma therapy portion of our intensive outpatient treatment program, contact us today.

Trauma & Addiction

Trauma is a risk factor for addiction, just as addiction is a risk factor for trauma. The two have a complex relationship, which is why dual diagnosis treatment options are so imperative. The link between trauma and addiction can be broken down in two specific ways:

  • Trauma Leads to Addiction – People who have experienced trauma attempt to self-medicate disruptive symptoms, which can lead to the development of a substance abuse disorder over time. According to a study on trauma and addiction published by the The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “Youth turn to alcohol and other drugs to manage the intense flood of emotions and traumatic reminders associated with traumatic stress or PTSD, or to numb themselves from the experience of any intense emotion, whether positive or negative.” People with co-occurring trauma and substance abuse must be treated in a dual diagnosis treatment program which thoroughly addresses both existing issues.
  • Addiction Leads to Trauma – A person who is regularly under the influence of drugs or alcohol is more inclined to engage in risk-taking behaviors, putting them at an increased risk of experiencing trauma. They might get behind the wheel while intoxicated, increasing the risk of experiencing a severe accident. They might find themselves in crime-ridden areas; they might be more inclined to engage in promiscuous sex or spend time with people they wouldn’t normally trust. Additionally, a person who experiences trauma while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is less capable of dealing with this experience in a healthy way and is less likely to reach out for help.

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Types of Trauma

Trauma is divided into three predominant categories: acute trauma, chronic trauma and complex trauma. Acute trauma develops after a singular traumatic event, chronic trauma results from repeated exposure to highly stressful events, and complex trauma results from multiple traumatic events. According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is defined as, “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster.”

Examples of Common Traumatic Experiences Include:

  • Childhood bullying and harassment.
  • Physical, psychological and/or sexual abuse.
  • Parental neglect.
  • Sexual assault and/or rape.
  • Life threatening illnesses.
  • Traffic collisions and other major accidents.
  • Natural disasters.
  • Sudden and/or unexpected loss of a loved one.
  • Acts of terrorism.
  • War.
  • Being attacked or kidnapped.

At Guardian IOP we address trauma of all kinds, along with PTSD — a disorder which can develop after a traumatic event. PTSD is characterized by a range of symptoms including severe anxiety, repetitive flashbacks and nightmares, mistrust of others and an inability to carry out day-to-day functions. To learn more about the varying types of trauma or about our trauma therapy program, contact us today.

Our Drug & Alcohol Treatment Services Include


Trauma Therapies

At Guardian IOP we offer a range of therapies which have been heavily researched and proven effective for the treatment of unresolved trauma. The therapies we utilize include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Also known as CBT, this therapeutic method focuses on changing unhealthy and self-destructive patterns of thinking and behaving. CBT is based on the belief that psychological disorders, including substance abuse and dependence, are based (at least in part) on unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. Clients learn how to better cope with detrimental thoughts, ultimately gaining a better understanding of their behaviors and working towards lasting change.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Also known as DBT, this therapeutic method is an offshoot of CBT which centers more around mindfulness, emotional regulation and improving interpersonal relationships. Clients develop a range of coping mechanisms including distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation. They develop a vital skill set to help them make positive changes in every area of their lives.

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  • Motivational Interviewing – The main priority of this specific therapy is to help clients shift from a place of ambivalence to a place of self-motivation, especially where sobriety is concerned. MI is characterized by a collaborative effort between the therapist and the client, and centers around an evocative style of communication designed to facilitate critical thinking and self-awareness. Clients learn to make a clear-cut distinction between their current circumstances and their personal goals. Potential methods of change are discussed in depth, and clients build upon a vital skill set which will ultimately help them avoid relapse and continuously work toward self-betterment.
Trauma Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing – This is an individual, client-centered therapy that involves rhythmic bilateral stimulation and the use of eye movements to help clients process trauma in a non-verbal manner. Clients focus on traumatic memories very briefly and simultaneously undergo non-invasive eye movement stimulation, which effectively reduces the emotional discomfort associated with the painful memory. While EMDR can be a useful tool for anyone suffering from substance abuse or dependence, it is generally reserved for clients who simultaneously suffer from unresolved trauma.
  • Holistic Therapies – At Guardian IOP we believe in a whole person approach to recovery, which is why we combine traditional methods of talk therapy with effective holistic methods, treating the body, mind and spirit simultaneously. Our clients have access to a range of holistic workshops and group sessions facilitated by experienced practitioners in the fields of meditation, mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture and more.

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    At Guardian IOP we offer an innovative intensive outpatient program that combines traditional therapies with medication assisted treatment options and holistic methodologies. As part of the Guardian Recovery Network we consistently hold ourselves to the highest clinical standards, treating each of our clients on a highly individualized basis. The therapeutic methods that work best for one client might not benefit another to the same extent. For this reason, we offer in-depth addiction assessments upon admission to our IOP program, which help our clinical team determine the best course of action for each unique case. If you or someone you love has recently completed a higher level of clinical care or is looking for more flexibility than a traditional inpatient rehab provides, Guardian IOP might be an ideal fit. The moment you make the decision to contact us, either over the phone or directly through our website, we put you in touch with one of our experienced Treatment Advisors who then helps you determine which level of care is right for you or your loved one. If we believe IOP is the best available option, we conduct a brief pre-assessment, go over all potential coverage options and set up a date for your admission. Contact us today to begin or continue your personal recovery journey.

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