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Developmental Trauma Therapy and Addiction

Did you know that a traumatic event in childhood can later lead to a life of addiction? Although several different factors can trigger an addictive lifestyle, childhood trauma represents one of the leading causes of addiction in adults. According to one study, 77 percent of respondents that received treatment for substance abuse and the symptoms generated by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experienced at least one traumatic event during childhood. Childhood trauma, which also goes by the name developmental trauma, increases the likelihood of someone falling into addiction as an adult.


What is Developmental Trauma?


Defining developmental trauma is not easy to do, as it constitutes a large number of traumatic events. Childhood trauma can be a one-time event that causes irreparable harm to a child, as well as years of trauma that occur frequently. For example, neglect represents a common form of childhood trauma, and it can last until a child reaches adulthood. Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse also can be inflicted over the course of several years. One-time traumatic events often consist of some type of accident that causes physical and/or emotional harm. Another type of one-time traumatic event is the grief that follows the death of a loved one.


What is the Connection Between Childhood Trauma and Addiction?


The negative physiological impact of developmental trauma concerns the brain releasing endorphins, which produce a good feeling both physically and emotionally. When a traumatic event happens, the brain no longer produces a sufficient amount of endorphins. After experiencing one or more traumatic events during childhood, the same person tries to find a way to recover the feeling of pleasure when entering adulthood. Addiction to anything from gambling to prescription medications temporarily replaces the lack of pleasure. At some point, addiction turns into spiraling down into feelings of fear, anxiety, and/or depression.


What Are the Types of Addiction?


When you think of someone suffering from PTSD, you probably associate coping with the aftermath of traumatic events with an addiction to alcohol. Although alcohol represents the most common type of addiction, other actions can come into play to cause addiction. Dr. Gabor Mate, who is considered a leading expert in the field of diagnosing and treating addiction, defines addiction like this: “An addiction manifests in any behavior that a person finds temporary pleasure or relief in and therefore craves, suffers negative consequences from, and has trouble giving up.”

In addition to alcohol, addiction can consist of sex, gambling, social media, and even exercise. Another common form of addiction involves the overconsumption of narcotics and prescription medicines. Many people that are treated with developmental trauma therapy suffer from more than one addiction. For example, an adult suffering from childhood trauma can be addicted to alcohol, which leads to gambling addiction.

Developmental Trauma Therapy

How Do I Reduce the Negative Impact of Childhood Trauma?


Because developmental trauma can last a lifetime, anyone suffering from an addiction it must be proactive when it comes to alleviating the negative impact of traumatic childhood events. For most adults suffering from childhood trauma, understanding the root cause of the trauma is the best place to start.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC), 61 percent of adults report experiencing at least one traumatic childhood event. Let’s see how you can mitigate the negative effects of developmental trauma.


Work with a Mental Health Professional


The term “mental health” conjures up numerous negative connotations, but developing healthy mental health is essential for living a robust life.

The negative impacts of developmental trauma can be found deep within our subconscious. Traumatic events dramatically alter our worldview, and not in a good way. To determine how to reverse the negative impact of childhood trauma, you should examine the behaviors that result from the suffering of adverse childhood events.

Therapy continues to be the most effective method for treating developmental trauma. With the advice and guidance of a licensed therapist, you can open mental doors that allow you to discover why you have become addicted to something or more than one thing. Knowing what caused your trauma is just the start of removing it from your subconscious.

Working with a therapist can help you unveil the root causes of why you suffer from one or more addictions.


Do Your Part


Working with a therapist does not guarantee you remove all of the emotional scars that are associated with childhood trauma. You have to do your part, which starts by making the commitment to remove the negative emotional issues that are caused by developmental trauma. If your therapist recommends completing daily mindfulness techniques, you have to commit to the emotionally healing practice to make progress on the road to recovering from one or more addictions.

One of the keys to eliminating one or more addictions from your life involves removing negative energy and channeling positive energy into the things you love to do.


Find a New Passion or Return to an Old One


When you start to make progress with your therapist concerning an addiction that has developed because of childhood trauma, you should find a new passion or return to an old one to give you a sense of purpose. One of the leading causes of addiction is the loss of wanting to live. Pursuing a new hobby or returning to an old one can give you something to look forward to each day. After a few therapy sessions, your therapist might have some ideas about what you should devote your time to as a new passion.


Take the First Step


If you repress anger, lose your sense of worth, and/or feel unwanted by people that at one time were close to you, the time has come to schedule an appointment with a therapist at Opus Health by calling 855-953-1345 to help implement developmental trauma therapy techniques. Feeling trapped and needing a way to escape by falling into one or more addictions is no way to go through life.

When you attend therapy sessions, you should acquire a much better understanding of why and how developmental trauma has negatively impacted your life.

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Developmental Trauma Therapy

Developmental Trauma Therapy

Trauma-informed types of therapy, like developmental trauma therapy, seek to help the person feel safe, grounded, and regulated to protect and soothe their psyche.

Trauma vs. Developmental Trauma

Trauma can be defined as a profoundly stressful or overwhelming event that has lasting impacts on the nervous system. Often, people experience fear for their life or safety during these events, which are typically what stimulate them to respond emotionally.

We all experience some degree of trauma throughout our lives. But as children, the brain is still developing, and experiences have lasting effects on who you become later in life — especially when these events involve violence or emotional abuse. Developmental Trauma affects how we see ourselves; it can lead to shallow feelings about what’s going on around us because we don’t have the skills to process experiences properly without them being linked together with other thoughts/feelings.

Developmental trauma can be defined as emotional abuse that occurs in early life or periods during which there’s a critical development. It often passes through generations and cultures, with each person experiencing the effects differently because it is so complex – sometimes referred to by its acronym: C-PTSD ( Complex PTSD).

The Effects of Early Trauma

Trauma is any event that overwhelms the nervous system and leads to a lasting effect on a person’s body and brain. Developmental trauma refers to the trauma that begins from birth and the early years of life where abuse, neglect, and a lack of safety are prevalent. Fearful situations that the child could not run away from developing damage to the body and mind and create long-lasting effects in adulthood. The circuitry that forms in the brain determines how we later see ourselves, relate to others, and live in the world.

Many emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms of trauma can manifest, and most of these trauma effects begin early on in life. It determines how a person is wired, how they cope, and how they respond to others and the world around them. Subsequently, symptoms arise and can be carried through later in development. A developmental trauma therapist may notice these signs:

  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Sleep issues
  • Negative beliefs
  • Anxiety and shame
  • Lack of trust
  • Chronic pain
  • Panic attacks

Symptoms of Developmental Trauma

Have you ever wondered if you may need to see a therapist for an issue that has affected your well-being or has even debilitated you?

Many people going into their first psychiatric or therapy treatment can be diagnosed with several diagnoses first, like bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit disorder, or major depression. If the core root of their trauma is not seen as their main issue, they could be treated for symptoms rather than causes. That’s where developmental trauma therapy can be a tremendous help.

Physical Symptoms

Psychological Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Lack of Focus
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Nightmares
  • Agitation
  • GI Issues
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Panic Attacks
  • Addiction 
  • Eating Disorders
  • Concentration Issues
  • Anger or Irritability
  • Shame
  • Anxiety
  • Self-Blame
  • Isolation
  • Dissociation
  • Relationship Issues
  • Trust Issues
  • Codependency
Reach out and take the first step. Speak directly to a professional!

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What is Developmental Trauma Therapy?

If a therapist recognizes trauma as the core of a person’s issues, they can apply treatment to recondition their nervous system and help the brain form new circuitry that aids in the strengthening of adaptive ways of living. The brain and nervous system can naturally heal themselves when the emotional discharge and retraining of body and mind work in concert. Trauma-informed therapy can approach a person dynamically and help the brain and nervous system develop alternate responses to stress.

Forms of Developmental Trauma Therapy

There are numerous ways therapists can treat developmental trauma. These are modalities of rehabilitation that are commonly used. A therapist who is aware of the underlying issue can use many of these forms in conjunction with others.

  • Attachment Therapy – helps clients bond to a therapist that can stand in for an early caregiver who they could not attach to healthily.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – works with patterns of thinking that connect to a negative experience of self.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – uses brain information processing that reworks the stress responses in the brain and nervous system.
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy – teaches clients to track body impulses, muscular tension, breathing, and heart rate as it feels trauma resurfacing.
  • Somatic Experiencing – focuses on the body to discharge the emotions of trauma so the body can return to its natural balance to heal.

Through developmental trauma therapy, a person can understand how traumatic events early on in life have affected them into adulthood. Trauma-informed treatment helps build emotional resilience and the emotional health of a person to gain back control of symptoms like anxiety. It instead addresses the wounding related to early attachment issues with primary caregivers. You can establish a trusting bond with a caring therapist to have a positive therapeutic experience. That can change their life.

For more information, you can call our support line to learn more about the treatments at 855-953-1345.

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