Most individuals who develop an addiction to either drugs or alcohol have not done so intentionally. More often than not, there was a traumatic event that has happened that led to the individual self-medicating with their drug of choice. Doing this created comfort, so the activity continued and addictive behaviors started to develop. Addiction treatment is not only about learning to live without using drugs and alcohol, it’s about discovering why a person was self-medicating and turned to drugs or alcohol in the first place. When a person can confront the problems that led to their addiction, they are more likely to be able to stay clean throughout recovery because they will be able to handle triggers that led them to use in the first place. Trauma based therapy throughout addiction treatment helps patients to identify and confront traumatic events in their lifetimes that may have led to the development of addiction.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is an event in an individual’s life that can cause psychological suffering, fear, and anxiety. Different people experience life differently, and they also feel differently about it. This means that individuals are affected by stressful scenarios that result in trauma differently. An event that may result in trauma to one individual may not for another. Trauma can be the result of a single or multiple experiences. There are many forms of trauma including:

  • Sexual, Mental, and Physical Abuse
  • Natural Disaster
  • Loss of Loved One
  • Being an Innocent Victim of a Crime
  • Automobile Accidents
  • Being a Victim of Violence
  • Experiences that Almost Resulted in Death
  • Social Violence
  • War and Combat
  • Neglect and/or abandonment

Trauma Based Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Trauma is treated as a coexisting mental disorder for those who identify with it throughout addiction treatment. The majority of individuals enrolled in addiction treatment facilities have coexisting mental conditions as well as a struggle with addiction. Although it is possible for mental illness to develop after addiction does first, most of the individuals with concurring disorders develop mental illness before addiction. The same goes for individuals who attend addiction treatment and have also been affected by traumatic experiences. Most individuals who require trauma based therapy have developed addiction as a result of struggling with their past. Trauma based therapy in addiction treatment works to uncover the traumatic event or experiences that have led to an individual’s need to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Once this is identified, it becomes easier for that individual to remain confident in their sobriety because they are more prepared to handle the anxiety that led to self-medication in the first place.

The Added Benefits of Trauma Based Therapy

Adding trauma based therapy to individual and group therapy sessions has many benefits for individuals active in alcohol or drug treatment. These benefits include:

  • Being able to express how trauma makes a person feel as it relates to their addiction
  • Being able to hear and identify with other experience in relation to your own traumatic experiences
  • Being able to work on issues that come up throughout addiction treatment with a counselor or peer as it relates to trauma
  • Being able to develop methods to maintain addictive responses to triggers of trauma
  • Being able to explore self-identity by confronting and working through inner demons

Are you Ready to Confront Trauma and Addiction Together?

Are you or a loved one struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol? Do you think that trauma based therapy may help you on the track to recovery? The Discovery Institute in New Jersey helps individuals with a dedication to ridding their lives of the pain that addiction brings through healing. Trauma based therapy is part of this healing and is available to any of the individuals enrolled in our programs. Wish to learn more about our addiction programs or services? Visit our website to get information on therapies, intervention services, medical detox, and much more! Want to talk to an addiction specialist about joining our recovery family? Give us a call for a free one-on-one confidential conversation with an addiction specialist any time of the day or night at 888-616-7177. You CAN live a life free from addiction and you CAN be happy with who you are!


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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