Trauma-Informed Approaches to Addiction Treatment

Understanding the Connection between Trauma and Addiction

Addiction is a complex issue that is often misunderstood. It is not just a personal failing or weakness, but rather a symptom of deeper emotional issues, particularly post-traumatic stress. Trauma can leave emotional residue that fuels addiction, causing individuals to turn to substances or behaviors as a means of numbing or dissociating from the pain. Trauma-informed approaches to addiction treatment recognizes this connection and addresses the underlying emotional causes in order to achieve lasting recovery.

Addiction as A Coping Mechanism for Trauma

But overcoming addiction, managing it continuously or making too much of an issue of it can be a dead-end. Instead, managing addiction has a role in starting to contain the addiction before starting to work on the deeper emotional issues. Addiction can help you to survive, to cope, through dissociation, but when you start to address and process the underlying emotions, addiction starts to lessen.

How Addressing Underlying Emotions Can Lead to Addiction Recovery

It's important to recognize that people of various cultures may have different character traits and ways of suppressing emotions. For some, the fear of dealing with anger can be a barrier to moving away from addiction. But processing anger can be a powerful tool in breaking the cycle of addiction.

How Society Promotes Addiction; 

The mindset of addiction is often characterized by the constant search for the next shot of dopamine. But addiction can manifest in many forms, from substance abuse to compulsive shopping or gambling. Society even promotes addiction through entertainment, making it even harder to recognize and overcome.

But by understanding the underlying emotions and trauma that fuel addiction, we can start to break the cycle and move towards healing and recovery.

Ben and I met up to talk about addiction and its relationship to trauma.

We went into:

  1. How addiction is a symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress and how emotional residue fuels addiction;
  2. How overcoming addiction, managing addiction continuously, and making too much of a an issue of addiction is a dead-end;
  3. How managing addiction has a role in starting to contain the addiction before starting to work on the deeper emotional issues;
  4. How addiction has helped you to survive, to cope, through dissociation;
  5. When you start to address and process the underlying emotions, addiction starts to lessen;
  6. How people of various cultures have different character traits and suppression of emotions;
  7. The fear of dealing with anger and how processing anger can help with moving away from addiction;
  8. The mindset of addiction and how we look for the next shot of dopamine;
  9. How everything can become and addiction and how society promotes addiction through entertainment;

Ben's website: www.drunkenbuddha.net

Toolkit: https://www.drunkenbuddha.net/emotional-regulation-emotional-sobriety-toolkit

Suggested reading: When Society becomes an Addict by Anne Wilson Schaef

What resonated with you of this video? Leave your comments below.

  • Do you want to reduce anxiety, hyper-vigilance, and being “ON” alert constantly?
  • Do you want to move out of a dissociated, fatigued and depressed state?
  • Do you want to work with anger and reestablishing boundaries?
  • Are you interested in sleeping better, having better relationships, and being able to live a normal life?

I have created The Trauma Care Audio Guided Meditations which address the most fundamental insights into the processes of trauma and dissociation and how you can work through them.

  • Barbara Wade says:

    After joining AA in 1999, my life turned upside down, in a bad way.I was in and out of mental facilities for the first 3 yrs. I went back to smoking weed and things straightened out somewhat. I continued to go to AA for the next 20 yrs. I did not drink. I found your website and began an eyeopening journey through my heart. Gradually I realized that the focus never got off of not drinking and within the meetings I could not discuss deeper subjects which were not related to drinking. I had to stop going. That was 7 years ago. I have been able to address issues that are more directly referencing my story. Now I know exactly where the cure lies, within me, I can’t blame it on anyone else anymore. That’s ok. I am awake now.
    I would NEVER have been able to heal without Roland Bal…

    Thank You

    Barbara Wade

  • Mary says:

    such a wonderful and interesting conversation. Thank you

  • Rosemary Byrne says:

    this was so helpful. It allowed me to see all the many varieties of addiction that there are, what an impactful role addictions play in coping, and allowed me to realize how important it is to uncover and heal from repressed feelings, particularly shame. Thank you both!

  • >