A person doesn’t wake up one day and decide to get addicted to drugs or alcohol. What may have started out as something fun and recreational no longer becomes a choice. Addiction is a disease that completely controls and attempts to destroy individuals’ lives. In the same way that diseases that manifest physically have causes, so do diseases that manifest emotionally or mentally.

You might be wondering what leads people to substances in the first place. Using substances, more often than not, begins as a survival tactic to combat traumatic times or memories of past traumatic experiences. Substance abuse and compulsive behaviors often start as a way to cope with underlying pain caused by trauma.

Defining Trauma

Trauma is an event or series of circumstances that have lasting effects on your mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. Traumatic events can completely change how you see yourself and how you view the world around you. When trying to keep trauma-related memories out of your mind becomes a daily struggle, you may develop unhealthy coping skills in a time of desperation. Too often, trauma leads to excessive substance abuse, serving as an escape from the emotions caused by that trauma.

The Connection Between Trauma and Addiction

Sometimes when people experience trauma, they get stuck in a never-ending cycle and pattern of behavior, leaving them unable to process what has happened. When you’re dealing with traumatic experiences and are unable to process these events and the intense feelings that come with them, it is common to turn to substances in an attempt to numb the unresolved pain you are experiencing.

While trauma does increase the risk of developing tendencies to excessively abuse substances, it is essential to note that trauma doesn’t only affect addiction, but addiction also affects trauma. Substance abuse increases the likelihood of being re-traumatized by engaging in high-risk behaviors. In order to break these patterns and create and maintain a sober life, it is crucial to process past traumas that may be influencing patterns of substance abuse and compulsive behavior.

What Is EMDR?

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a proven treatment method used to safely unfold defenses and discover what is festering under the surface. It is a way to make the unconscious conscious, allowing for a powerful healing process and a strong encounter with the true self. EMDR has been extensively researched as an effective psychotherapy method proven to help people face their past traumas and recover from distressing life experiences and emotions.

EMDR doesn’t require talking in-depth about the issues at hand. Instead of focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the given issue, EMDR therapy allows the brain to resume its natural healing process without being blocked by trauma responses. It is designed to help you reprocess traumatic memories in the brain in order to allow your brain to heal and take the shape it existed in prior to traumatic experiences.

How EMDR Is Used to Treat Addiction

Trauma is a common cause of excessive substance abuse, and by treating the underlying trauma that is causing addiction, the brain is able to heal naturally. The goal of EMDR in addiction treatment is to relieve distress, reformulate negative beliefs, and reduce physiological arousal, allowing individuals who are struggling with substance abuse to stop relying on substances to forget or block out past traumas.

In other words, EMDR aims to reprocess how traumatic memories are stored and alleviate the intense emotions associated with that traumatic experience. EMDR is a way to treat the root causes of an addiction, which also lessens the risk of relapse in the future. This treatment method stems entirely from the belief that someone suffering from addiction will have less compulsion to use substances once the underlying trauma is addressed and treated.

By approaching individuals’ substance abuse tendencies from a trauma-informed perspective, treatment naturally becomes more individualized, focusing on the specific contributing factors of each person’s addiction. Another way in which EMDR has proven to be effective is that it reconnects individuals who appear to be disengaged and disconnected with themselves and with others. This connection is essential in the process of becoming and staying sober.

Finding the Right Treatment for You

Sometimes, finding the right addiction treatment facility is less about finding the right location and more about finding the right treatment. If you believe you or a loved one may be struggling with substance abuse caused by underlying trauma, EMDR may be an effective form of treatment for you.

If you are struggling with the effects of trauma and it has led you to addiction, EMDR may be an effective treatment method for you. EMDR can help you reprocess your trauma, so it no longer affects you in the same way. Bella Monte Recovery Center in Desert Hot Springs, California, believes that the issue isn’t the substance itself but the underlying pain that causes the perpetual cycle leading you back to substances time and time again. Here at Bella Monte Recovery Center, we believe that the client who presents as disengaged or disconnected may actually be a client suffering from early damage that led to substance abuse as a way of surviving. Our program focuses heavily on treating the trauma that is causing destructive patterns of behavior in order to live a happy and sober life. Give yourself the chance to receive the healing you deserve. To learn more about treating trauma and addiction, call (800) 974-1938 today.