In addiction treatment, it is very common to find a mental health condition that underpins and fuels a substance use issue. The most common of these include depression, anxiety, and trauma. For this reason, trauma therapy is often a key component of recovery. What few people know, however, is that there are many different ways to treat trauma, especially when it is coupled with addiction. One example of a very useful and evidence-based approach that can be utilized is EMDR therapy for trauma.
How Does Trauma Lead to Addiction?
It is important to understand why trauma therapy can be such an effective treatment for individuals battling addiction. Undergoing trauma typically leads to anxiety, depression, and panic. Each of these conditions can lead people to self-medicate with alcohol or other substances such as prescription drugs to ease their pain. Because these drugs do not address the underlying factors – namely, the trauma itself – the substance use can quickly become a substance abuse problem or a full-blown addiction.
Programs designed to treat trauma can help people battling addiction by dealing with the core issues that cause these feelings.
What Is EMDR Treatment?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or “EMDR,” has been used to address issues including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and even eating disorders. EMDR was designed, specifically, to treat trauma and stress disorders, and it is in this capacity that it can best help address the core issues underlying the substance use.
In EMDR sessions, you and your therapist focus on the traumatic incident or incidents so that you can better understand and “unpack” them. While doing this, you will also focus on external stimuli introduced by your therapist. The most common of these is bilateral eye movement. This may seem non-intuitive, but studies show that this action can allow you to reprocess and take control of those negative memories.
EMDR does not fix problems that are genetic or physical. What it does do, however, is focus on healing the negative feelings that have resulted from negative experiences and help you process the physical sensations associated with the trauma in your body.
How Does EMDR Therapy for Trauma Work? What Can You Expect?
EMDR therapy for trauma may seem at first like a kind of hypnosis: it is not. One of the reasons it resembles hypnosis to some people is that rather than relying on talk therapy or medication, it focuses on your rhythmic eye movements. Learning to be aware of these movements allows you to deal with emotions that you find emotionally overwhelming.
During an EMDR therapy session, you will be asked to relive traumatic experiences while your therapist directs your eye movements using words as well as visual stimuli. The theory behind EMDR is that reliving these distressing events is less upsetting and more manageable when your attention is diverted. By experiencing these memories without having an overwhelming emotional response, the impact of these events becomes less impactful, and you can manage them without the help of your therapist.
Over time, the brain learns to reprocess these negative emotions and the physical sensations associated with them. They will never disappear completely, but you will be able to manage the emotional distress associated with them and live your life without being constantly triggered and brought back to the past. Instead, you will have the ability to create a safe calm place and regulate your emotions and sensations in a way that allows you to live in the present moment.
Learn More About EMDR Therapy for Trauma at True Life Center
At True Life Center, we use a combination of evidence-based and holistic treatment approaches to treat mental wellness and addiction issues. We do so by creating individualized plans for each of our patients. Our use of EMDR therapy for trauma is only one of the many approaches that we employ.
True Life Center is committed to helping individuals find and express their authentic self. When suffering is deep and enduring, understanding the path forward brings comfort and hope. Our aim is to provide a comprehensive map for long-term recovery and optimal health. We listen carefully to you and your loved ones to understand and co-collaborate in the creation of your True Life Recovery Plan. Finding treatment for mental illness may seem challenging right now, but it’s only a phone call away. Five minutes of your time can give you the key to years of stability and contentment. Give us a ring to start your journey to healing today.