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Women who have survived addiction often admit that some type of trauma triggered them to use drugs or alcohol in the first place. Trauma is identified as any life-altering experience that is deeply disturbing or depressing. This includes physical injuries as well as events that adversely affect a person's mental or emotional well-being. Trauma-informed care addresses a woman's mental and emotional health so that the treatment plan does not trigger a new reaction to past traumatic events. Instead, this type of therapy helps women deal with their past traumatic experiences so that they no longer pose a threat or act as a catalyst for harmful behaviors.

Types of Trauma

Being raised in a home with an alcoholic or abusive parent or experiencing a rape or other type of physical assault are two of the most common types of trauma many women claim to have endured. In some cases, living through a horrific accident or natural disaster can cause physical injuries in addition to the mental and emotional trauma. While physical injuries often leave behind visible scars, mental and emotional trauma does not. That doesn't make mental or emotional trauma any less severe. In some cases, it is more severe simply because it is relived due to events that continue to trigger the memories. Trauma is defined differently from person to person. Women must learn to deal with their own type of trauma in their own way.

Addressing the Emotional Aspect of Trauma

Most types of trauma carry and intense emotional aspect that a person will carry with them for the rest of their lives. While some learn to deal with the emotions attached to a traumatic event, others internalize them. This allows the emotions to have a negative impact on many aspects of their life. Women who have learned to accept and understand those emotions are much less likely to be controlled by them. Others tend to try and numb their emotions or avoid dealing with them altogether.

Many women, especially those who are under an excessive amount of stress tend to try and cope with their circumstances by using drugs and alcohol to keep the pain and frustration under control. They end up creating a cycle of destruction that doesn't address the problem and only heightens the frustration. When they seek treatment for their addiction, one of the first things they must accomplish is identifying their trauma events and dealing with the emotions that are associated with it.

Identifying Potential Triggers

With trauma-informed care, it's essential to identify any potential triggers associated with past trauma. Trying to treat addiction without addressing trauma events can cause a woman to regress backward making treatment more difficult. Women who have experienced traumatic events in any form, need to understand their triggers and learn how to cope with the emotions that come with them. Once they can accept, and then begin to work through the emotions, they will begin to find their strength and there will no longer be a need for the escape that drug and alcohol addiction offers. Identifying potential triggers can help them avoid the opportunities for potential relapses and maintain a steady course on their journey to recovery.

Reducing the Risk of Relapse

When women take the necessary steps to understand and eventually deal with their own personal trauma, they begin to understand themselves and why they have reacted in certain ways. Women who deal with addiction will often relapse when they begin to experience the triggers that they associate with their past trauma. During treatment, women learn to understand the trauma they have experienced as well as their reactions. The emotional baggage they carry does not have to define who they are or the life they lead. By learning to work through the emotions and address the trauma, they can begin to reclaim their lives, one emotion and one step at a time. This helps to reduce the risk of a relapse and allows them to take control of their emotional and physical well-being.

Encouraging Participation in Therapy-Based Activities

Counselors at drug and rehab centers offer many types of therapy, both on an individual and group basis. Some of the treatment options are very informal and can help women learn to find their way in situations when they have to deal with others in a social setting. Therapy-based activities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma informed art therapy and body work,  allow women to find their voice and get back on track socially. By encouraging women in treatment to participate in therapy-based activities, counselors give them an opportunity to move forward in a structured environment. Women are allowed to face their fears and learn constructive ways to cope with the pressures and frustration they may experience in their career as well as in social settings.

Making the Best of Trauma-Informed Care

Every woman is different. No two individuals handle trauma in the same way. With trauma-informed care, women are encouraged to face their trauma, deal with it constructively, and then take the lessons they have learned and begin to move forward. By addressing the trauma and the emotions that are linked to it, they can learn to create defense mechanisms that will prevent them from following down the same path as before. Their risk of relapse is also reduced, giving them a better chance for long-term recovery. Maintaining sobriety takes a constant and continual effort to move forward one day at a time.

Women who are on the path to recovery and have endured past trauma may choose trauma-informed care as a way to make sure they deal with their past in a healthy manner. Recovery takes time and a strong dedication on the part of the person working their way along that path. At the Ho Tai Way Recovery for Women, therapists encourage women to break through the boundaries that have been created due to trauma. With trauma-informed care using modalities of cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, trauma informed yoga and trauma informed art , they are given the tools they need to succeed and live a healthier addiction free lifestyle.