What Is Trauma-Informed Care and How Does It Help Addiction Recovery?

If you look at the population demographic of individuals that have struggled or are currently struggling with addiction, you will find many crossovers between addiction and trauma. While going through trauma does not necessarily mean you will develop an addiction, it does put you at a higher risk than those that have not experienced trauma. 

The relationship between addiction and trauma is why many facilities across the United States have implemented a trauma-informed approach to addiction treatment to help those that have undergone trauma and addiction have the best chance at a successful recovery. By understanding trauma-informed care and how it helps addiction recovery, individuals who have been hesitant about seeking help can finally be confident in treatment programs and start their recovery journey.

What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), trauma-informed care is “essential to the context of care.” This approach to treatment helps facilities “realize the widespread impact of trauma and understand potential paths for recovery, recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system, and respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices, and seek to resist re-traumatization actively.” 

In programs that use a trauma-informed approach, care providers offer treatment that considers a person’s trauma as a means of seeing the whole picture. This approach allows patients to heal wholly and give them a better chance at long-term sobriety. Trauma-informed care can also improve relationships between patients and their providers, which can help the healing process run more smoothly through trust. For these reasons, specific organizations such as SAMHSA and the CDC recommended trauma-informed care for various programs around the country.

The Six Guiding Principles of Trauma-Informed Care

There are six principles that are integral to trauma-informed care that help healthcare providers give their patients the best care available. Having these principles in mind helps the patient and provider avoid burnout, take care of their mental health, and build a relationship that is conducive to healing. All trauma-informed specialists must keep these principles in mind to help their patients get the most out of treatment and be successful in recovery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have laid out the following as the six principles of trauma-informed care:

  1. Safety: Trauma-informed care ensures that patients, staff, and family’s physical, psychological, and emotional safety are protected throughout the treatment process.
  2. Trustworthiness and Transparency: Throughout these programs, a foundation of trust and transparency is built between patients, staff, and family members. 
  3. Peer Support: Having support from peers is crucial to the trauma-informed approach to build trust, ensure safety, and empower everyone involved.
  4. Collaboration and Mutuality: When everyone pitches in to help the healing process, proper support can allow the person to find recovery. Trauma-informed care realizes that you don’t have to be a healthcare provider to help those in need and that anyone can play a role in the healing journey by giving support.
  5. Empowerment and Choice: Everyone has a unique experience; therefore, treatment requires an individualized approach. Rather than responding to a person’s flaws or focusing on what they lack, trauma-informed care seeks to empower a person and their experiences on each level, from client to staff to communities.
  6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues: Programs that implement this approach move past any stigmas, stereotypes, or biases that may occur due to different cultures. Individuals work to realize the healing value of traditional cultural norms and address historical trauma as needed. 

Trauma-Informed Addiction Treatment

For individuals that have struggled with addiction, a trauma-informed treatment program is significant to recovery. This is because facilities that implement this program address the fact that trauma’s impact on a person can last for years after the initial event(s). It also considers that addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often co-occur and thus require simultaneous treatment. Throughout a trauma-informed program, individuals will learn how to manage their trauma symptoms, change their perspective in recovery, and find hope in healing. 

Various treatments are used to help survivors of trauma find healing. These include EMDR therapy, experiential therapy, psychodrama therapy, and breathwork therapy. These treatment modalities are specifically designed to be trauma-informed, which is why they are crucial to these programs. As the person moves through the various treatment methods, they should learn how to come to terms with their trauma, accept its impact, manage its symptoms, and heal for a successful recovery. 

Trauma-informed care is crucial in helping those that have struggled with trauma and addiction find long-term healing solutions. This treatment approach allows providers, patients, and family members to co-exist in an environment that understands the impact of trauma, protects mental health, and is a safe space for the person to find healing. These aspects of trauma-informed care are crucial because they reduce the chance of relapse and help individuals maintain sobriety longer. While many treatment programs implement a trauma-informed approach, NorthStar Transitions stands out from the crowd. We offer evidence-based practices that are tailored to your individual recovery needs. We also provide family-focused programs that help loved ones heal from addiction because addiction is a family disease. Located in beautiful Boulder, CO, our facility offers the perfect environment to recover and reclaim your life. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with addiction and trauma, contact NorthStar today to begin your healing journey. Call (303) 558-6400.

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