Learn More About Trauma and Addiction Recovery in Colorado

Understanding Trauma: Does it Lead to Addiction?

More than half of all adults in Colorado have experienced a trauma at some point during their lives. Trauma includes any event during which your life was in danger, you saw someone else in danger, or you believed you were in mortal danger. Common sources of trauma include rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, fighting in a war, the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one, a prolonged illness, a house fire, a natural disaster, or a life-changing car wreck.

When you experience trauma, your brain chemistry immediately changes to help you cope with the trauma. You go into fight-or-flight mode so that you can protect yourself. For most people, this ends when the threat dissipates. For some, though, the feeling of being traumatized sticks around long after the imminent threat is gone. If this happens to you, you're at an increased risk of mental health problems, and may rely on an addiction to help you cover up your feelings of trauma.

A number of risk factors increase your likelihood of experiencing prolonged trauma after a terrifying event. Those include:

  • Suffering a very severe trauma. The death of a loved one is certainly sad, but it's generally less traumatic than being raped.
  • Suffering multiple traumas, particularly when the two traumas are close together.
  • Experiencing little support.
  • Having the veracity of your trauma questioned; abuse victims, for instance, often face a near-inquisition from loved ones, police officers, and others who do not believe their claims.
  • Being injured as a result of the traumatic experience.
  • Suffering ongoing safety issues. For instance, a domestic violence victim whose partner is actively stalking her will often feel worse than one whose former partner is behind bars.
  • A previous history of mental illness
  • A family history of PTSD or other intense reactions to trauma. Though researchers aren't yet sure why, they believe that early learning, genetics, or some combination of the two can affect a person's reaction to experiencing a traumatic event.
  • Living in a chaotic or unsupportive environment. A person whose spouse is abusive or unkind will have more difficulty recovering than someone whose spouse shows abiding support.

Addiction, Trauma, and Co-Occurring Disorders in Colorado

Trauma itself is not a disease or mental health condition. Indeed, it's normal to react to extraordinary life events with grief, anger, or shock. But when trauma infiltrates every area of your life, it can lead to mental health issues. Some people who have experienced trauma struggle with anxiety or depression. But the most common reaction to trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder. This trauma-related disorder cannot happen without a precipitating traumatic event. If you've been traumatized and also experience some of the following symptoms, you likely have PTSD:

  • Recurring intrusive memories of the trauma. You may feel the same emotions you felt during the trauma, or even feel as if the event is happening again. These memories are called flashbacks.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Uncontrolled emotions of anger, depression, or fear.
  • Persistently avoiding people, places, or things that remind you of the trauma.
  • Experiencing triggers that remind you of the trauma. These triggers seem superficially unrelated. For instance, a woman who was stabbed might develop a fear of needles so debilitating that it prevents her from seeking necessary medical care.
  • Disturbing nightmares and dreams.
  • Feeling disconnected from your loved ones.
  • Feeling hopeless about your ability to go on.

The pain of trauma can send you down a path of addiction in a couple of ways. Some traumatized people use drugs or alcohol to minimize their pain and help them forget about the trauma. Others develop mental health issues, such as depression and PTSD, and attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. But the effects of trauma result in legitimate medical conditions that warrant treatment. Drugs and alcohol will, over time, only make your symptoms worse. Some evidence even suggests that alcohol and drugs can trigger flashbacks and nightmares in traumatized people.

Why You Need Drug Treatment in Colorado for Both Addiction and Trauma

When you suffer from a trauma-related condition in Colorado such as depression or PTSD and also experience addiction, this is know as a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders complicate addiction treatment because your treatment team must treat both issues for you to get better. If you struggle with a co-occurring disorder, it is unlikely that you will get better without intensive inpatient rehab. And you absolutely will not get better without some form of drug treatment in Colorado.

The Right Addiction Treatment in Colorado

The right treatment approaches both problems at once, rather than trying to treat one or the other. Addiction and trauma can feed off of one another, so they're impossible to separate. Instead, good treatment hinges on addressing both challenges head-on.

So what does good trauma treatment and drug rehab in Colorado look like? Effective trauma counseling near Denver begins with validating your feelings. While traditional addiction counseling focuses on helping you live without addiction, trauma counseling must acknowledge that you have legitimate reasons for feeling the way you do.

From there, your therapist in Colorado should work to steadily help you address the negative ways the trauma affects your thoughts and feelings. Pushing too hard too fast can re-traumatize you, so trauma counseling tends to move slowly and steadily rather than plowing headfirst into treatment. A number of treatments work well for trauma, including cognitive reprocessing, interpersonal therapy, and exposure therapy. If addiction is also an issue, drug rehab in Colorado may be necessary.

As you pursue treatment for trauma in Colorado, your treatment team will begin working on helping you live with the pain of trauma without indulging an addiction. The following treatments are available in rehab, but you can also opt to pursue these outside the walls of a drug rehab near Denver:

  • Group support – Support groups are helpful both for trauma victims and addicts, since these groups allow you to benefit from the wisdom and support of others. 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous can be highly effective, but will not treat trauma. If you need help managing trauma, consider a support group specially tailored for trauma victims. It's even better if the group focuses on those who have faced the specific type of trauma with which you struggle.
  • Medical care – You'll need medical care to navigate the detox process, and your doctor may even prescribe medications to reduce the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms. If you'd like to try medication to treat depression, PTSD, or other symptoms associated with trauma, your doctor can offer you medical options while advising you about which drugs are least likely to become addictive.
  • Therapy – Just as you'll need therapy to dissect your trauma, you'll also need therapy in Colorado to help you devise effective coping skills for staying sober.
  • Lifestyle remedies – Adopting a new hobby can distract you both from your addiction and your trauma. Likewise, some lifestyle interventions, such as exercise and yoga, have been proven to effectively combat addiction and trauma. Lifestyle remedies on their own won't “cure” you, but they can certainly reduce the severity of your symptoms while making the recovery process easier.

Questions to Ask

When you've suffered a trauma, it's of paramount importance to ensure you're not re-traumatized by ineffective treatment or a treatment provider who does not understand trauma. For this reason, it's wise to carefully interview any treatment provider in Colorado before signing up. Good trauma providers in Colorado welcome questions, so consider asking some of the following:

  • Are you licensed in Colorado? What is your license?
  • Have you ever been disciplined by a professional oversight board?
  • Have you ever been sued for malpractice? What was the outcome?
  • How much experience do you have treating trauma survivors?
  • What specific techniques do you use to treat trauma and addiction?
  • How is treating trauma different from treating other conditions?
  • Are there any steps I can take to ensure the best possible outcome in Colorado?
  • How will I know if treatment is working?
  • What will we do if I get worse of treatment does not work?

Part of the trauma recovery process is taking responsibility for your life and being your own advocate. It can be tough to explore your options, but by insisting on first-rate treatment, you also insist that you are a person who deserves to get better. You are more than your trauma. And no matter what mistakes you have made, you did absolutely nothing to deserve being traumatized.

How AspenRidge Helps Those with Trauma in Colorado

AspenRidge treats people who have survived trauma and struggle with addiction every day in Colorado. We know that traumatized people have special needs. We offer a safe, supportive space where you can explore your victimization free of judgment and further threats. Our drug rehab near Denver, Colorado is safe and clean. Many guests find that escaping home and going somewhere new offers them a fresh start. If you struggle with facing reminders of your trauma every day, then AspenRidge could offer you the stress break you need and deserve.

Trauma often causes victims to blame themselves, even when they did nothing to cause the trauma. You didn't deserve what happened to you. And hard as it may be to believe, you also don't deserve this addiction. Addiction is a disease. Just like trauma, it is not your fault. And just like trauma, it is treatable. We've helped thousands recover from unspeakable pain. We can help you chart a course to a new and better life. We know that recovery isn't just about getting over flashbacks or getting sober. We know you deserve to create a fulfilling, meaningful, and happy life. We'll listen to you, tailor our treatment approach to your needs and values, then offer you world-class treatment for your trauma and your addiction.

We can't force you to get drug treatment in Colorado, and we can't do all the work for you. But the moment you come to AspenRidge, we will steadfastly dedicate ourselves to helping you build the life you want, the life you deserve. The journey to happiness begins with a phone call. You don't deserve to suffer for another day, and you don't have to. Located near Denver, AspenRidge help pull you out of the darkness. There's light at the end of this tunnel. Call us today to learn more about what we can do to help you!