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Trauma-Informed Treatment for Addiction

hooded figure needing trauma informed treatment for addiction

Trauma informed treatment for addiction is at the heart of all we do at Integrative Life Center. We understand that traumatizing experiences and events are at the root of your addiction. Therefore, we combine our trauma-informed addiction treatments into every aspect of your care. 

We dedicate ourselves to helping you or your loved one heal physically, mentally, and spiritually. Working to help you understand how trauma and addiction are intertwined and how they can impact your addiction and recovery.

What are Trauma and Addiction?

At the center of addiction are trauma and traumatizing experiences. So how do you know if you, too, have experienced trauma? 

Trauma has a broad definition. That is because the way it impacts you varies based on how you interpret the happening.

Trauma can occur as a one-time event, multiple events, or it can be a long-lasting and repetitive series of events. 

Examples of trauma include: 

  • Bullying
  • Sexual assault or abuse
  • Natural disasters
  • Accidents
  • Medical trauma
  • Physical abuse
  • Grief
  • Lack of attunement with primary caregivers
  • Emotional or physical abuse

There are countless ways trauma takes form. What matters is how you perceive these events.

What is the Impact of Trauma?

When you experience a traumatic event, your brain creates a stress response.Your brain perceives danger, whether imagined or real. It triggers your “fight or flight” stress response. 

Experiencing an extended stress response from thinking you’re in danger can cause lifelong negative impacts to your memory, emotional response, and ability to reason at a high level. This response is especially true if you perceive yourself as powerless, helpless, or think, “why me.” 

Responses to trauma vary widely. They include:

  • Compulsive behaviors around relationships, substances, food, or other self-soothing options
  • Shame, guilt, and hopelessness
  • Impaired ability to reason
  • Feeling disconnected or numb
  • Continued abuse of damaging substances or behaviors despite the risks involved
  • Emotional numbness or isolation

Your brain tries to seek out comfort and support in any way it knows how following a traumatic happening. Therefore, if you believe that a substance has helped you feel better in the past, you’ll choose to pursue that as a means of self-soothing. 

woman in therapy holding her head down

The 3 Es of Trauma

A traumatic response isn’t random. It is based on three key factors.

1. Events

The actual traumatic event or events that take place create an initial impact. The threat of physical, psychological, or emotional harm initiates your stress response, imprinting your brain in a way that you remember the event, usually in great detail. 

2. Experience

Personal traumatic responses to experiences are the least discussed aspect of trauma. 

Each person perceives an event differently, and therefore your physical and psychological response to trauma is different. 

You may feel guilt, shame, humiliation, or betrayal after a traumatic event. 

While one person may feel miserable and shameful about an event, another will feel deceived and vengeful.

How you perceive and respond to the traumatic stimuli impacts your memory and response to the trauma.

This alternate version of the trauma can vary based on your cultural beliefs, social support system, and upbringing. 

3. Effects

Sometimes a trauma response is initiated immediately. Other times, the adverse effects can happen much later. As a result, the impact may be short-lived, or it may stay with you for many years. 

The event and your experience are indicators of how it will influence you. 

Effects of trauma can involve:

  • The inability to cope with everyday stressors
  • Relationship issues including trust
  • Difficulties with thinking, memory, or paying attention
  • Problems regulating emotions and behavioral responses
  • Hypervigilance, meaning increased alertness in response to your surroundings
  • Avoidance of certain triggers
  • Physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion
  • Difficulty finding meaning in the traumatic experience

What is Trauma Informed Treatment?

Trauma informed addiction treatment is crucial for you to truly overcome past traumas and begin to live a healthier life. 

Trauma informed addiction treatment acknowledges that individuals, more likely than not, have a history of trauma. Therefore, care providers recognize the symptoms and roles that trauma will play in a patient’s care. 

A trauma-informed care provider’s perception is “what has happened to this person?” rather than “what is wrong with this person?”

The goal of trauma informed addiction treatment is to help you understand and recover from trauma and not retraumatize you by reliving the traumatic experiences associated with your addiction.

Trauma can directly impact your ability or motivation to connect with other people and use support services. Therefore, trauma-informed approaches to addiction integrate the knowledge about trauma into all aspects of the services that ILC provides. 

Trauma-Informed Approaches in Addiction Treatment

At ILC, we blend all types of trauma-informed approaches into our addiction treatment plans. We use a multidisciplinary approach to ensure that your custom plan is suited to your needs. Some of those approaches include:


Using guided drama exercises with trained therapists, you’ll learn to manage your addiction. In addition, you develop the tools to manage stress better, improve interpersonal communication methods, and understand healthy coping mechanisms in trauma-informed group therapy. 


Experiential therapy involves actions, activities, and specific movements that help you have a more physical experience during your therapy sessions. In addition, experiential therapy can make it easier to talk about trauma and addiction and help with personal growth and problem-solving skills.

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

EMDR is a therapy program that uses Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing to help you target and heal from your trauma and addiction. 


We incorporate Breathwork in many therapies. Using conscious, connected breath practices can help your body naturally clear mental, physical, and spiritual blocks in your recovery. 


Similar to EMDR, brainspotting focuses on identifying, processing, and releasing sources of pain, trauma, and dissociation. It concentrates on specific eye movements, which indicate an area of your brain that holds trauma and emotion.

3 Key Elements of the Trauma-Informed Approach

At the heart of trauma informed treatment for addiction are the “three R’s.”


The treatment team involved in your treatment understands how trauma impacts you, your family, and your community. In addition, the team realizes that your addiction is a response to coping with trauma.

2. Recognizing

Your treatment team can recognize the signs of trauma in your past and current behaviors.

3. Responding

Our team applies a trauma-informed addiction approach to all areas of your recovery experience, inside and outside our walls. Our team responds to your individual experience and needs.

5 Guiding Principles of Trauma-Informed Care

There are five crucial guiding principles of trauma informed treatment for addiction that we incorporate into all aspects of addiction treatment at ILC.


We ensure that you feel safe, emotionally and within your physical environment.

2. Trustworthiness

We respect your boundaries, as well as interpersonal boundaries. As a result, we provide you with clear and consistent tasks that benefit your trauma informed addiction treatment.

3. Choice

You have the power of choice and control over your options. We provide you with clear messages about your responsibilities and rights during care.

4. Collaboration

You are at the center of the care plan. You share work in conjunction with your recovery providers regarding making choices and decisions about your care plan.

5. Empowerment

We base your treatment on empowering you to make healthier choices and develop the skill sets you need to succeed outside of ILC. Every aspect of your care will allow you to feel validated and affirmed. 

Trauma Informed Treatment for Addiction at ILC

Trauma informed treatment for addiction is one of the critical components of care at ILC. We know that your addiction is a trauma response, and our focus is on personalizing your recovery. 

If you’re ready to take control over your life and addiction, call us today.


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