Trauma-Informed Care: Understanding and Implementing Principles

Trauma can be categorized as an emotional response to a terrible event that may have been physically or emotionally harmful or threatening. Many different types of trauma develop in various ways. Some people will develop trauma symptoms immediately after an event that they found to be highly stressful, and some will develop long-term effects following the scarring event. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the more common disorders associated with trauma, and this mental health condition is caused by an event that the person either experienced or witnessed. 

Trauma-informed care in addiction refers to an approach that offers help to those impacted by trauma and are simultaneously battling an addiction. Trauma is a common experience among individuals with substance use disorders. Many individuals turn to substances as a way to cope with the distressing events of trauma. However, traditional addiction treatment approaches often fail to address the underlying trauma as a factor of addiction. Therefore, recovery can be hindered, and treatment may not be effective. Trauma-informed care works to emphasize the importance of understanding and addressing trauma in the context of addiction. 

Emotional and Physical Responses to Trauma

There are many emotional symptoms and a wide range of psychological responses that you can experience from trauma. Some of the responses to trauma include anger, depression, confusion, anxiety, guilt, numbness, shame, and more. People may respond to traumatic events with emotional outbursts, flashbacks, nightmares, extreme levels of anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. 

In addition to the emotional responses of trauma, there are also physical responses that occur and require addressing. Some physical responses to trauma may include headaches, digestive symptoms, fatigue, sweating, feeling on edge, and more. Trauma can bring on a condition called 'hyperarousal', meaning a person may be feeling hyper aware of theri surroundings at all times, making it difficult to sleep or cope with everyday life. 

Principles of Trauma-informed Care in Addiction

One of the key principles of trauma-informed care in addiction treatment is safety. Those who have experienced trauma have often struggled with feelings of insecurity and mistrust. By creating a safe space and a supportive environment for a person to properly address their feelings, people will feel secure in their ability to address the trauma. Ensuring a physical and emotionally safe environment to exist can create a space where clear boundaries are provided and a non-judgmental atmosphere can be cultivated. 

Another principle of trauma-informed care is the need for a strengths-based approach to treatment. Those who have survived trauma often experience a lack of self-esteem, feelings of shame or guilt, extreme anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts about the event, confusion, numbness, and more. Recognizing a person's strengths as opposed to focusing on weaknesses will be essential in fostering a positive self-image and promoting confidence in order to then make an impactful recovery. By focusing on strengths, therapists and clinicians can empower a person to overcome challenges and achieve their goals on the road to recovery. 

Another one of the principles of trauma-informed care is cultural sensitivity in trauma-informed care. Trauma can affect people of different backgrounds differently. Therefore it is essential to consider that when approaching treatment. Understanding trauma-informed care from a cultural standpoint can be essential to the patient's recovery. Recognizing the influence of culture and how culture shapes individuals' experiences with trauma can effectively enhance treatment and promote a cross-cultural understanding. 

Lastly, another principle of trauma-informed care is collaboration and choice. Trauma survivors often feel a loss of control over their lives, and by involving them in the decision-making process and respecting their choices, individuals will regain a sense of autonomy and feelings of empowerment. 

Trauma-Informed Care at Ocean Coast Recovery Center

Implementing trauma-informed care in addiction treatment will require a comprehensive approach that addresses both the addiction as well as the mental health disorder. At Ocean Coast Recovery Center, our Huntington Beach detox center, we offer both addiction and trauma-informed care for those struggling with co-occurring disorders. Our Southern California location offers an environment where recovery not only happens, it thrives. Join us at our Orange County drug rehab today to embark on your recovery journey with our caring and educated team of professionals. 

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