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Trauma, Grief & Loss

Research demonstrates a strong link between exposure to traumatic events and substance use.

Many people who have experienced traumatic events turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their pain and escape bad memories. Sadly, drugs and alcohol are not a solution. In fact, they create traumatic experiences of their own, trapping victims in a vicious cycle.

Wolf Creek recognizes the relationship between substance use and traumatic experiences, and we provide a variety of opportunities for clients to explore this trauma and work through it in a productive manner. This doesn’t mean that the traumatic memories disappear, but rather that clients learn how to cope with them in a healthier way.

More than Combat: Common Examples of Trauma

Many people associate trauma with combat or violent attacks, but trauma comes in many different forms. Here are some examples of traumas and stresses that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mood disorders.

  • Domestic or family violence
  • Community violence
  • Sexual or physical abuse
  • Natural disasters
  • Serious car accidents
  • Sudden or violent death (i.e., suicide)
  • Life-threatening illness
  • War or political violence

Why Grief and Loss Can be a Risk Factor for Substance Use

Similar to trauma, grief/loss and substance use have a close relationship. Grief is a natural response that happens when you lose something. Grief is very personal – there is no set timetable for how long it will last and how quickly you will move through the stages. You will ultimately have to adjust to your new life, which can take months or years.

Because feelings of pain and sadness are uncomfortable, people who are struggling with grief and loss are more likely to indulge in drugs or alcohol to numb their pain. Carrying this emotional stress is a difficult burden and one that won’t let up unless the pain and guilt is processed and worked through.

What Happens When Trauma or Grief is Left Untreated?

If trauma or grief is left unresolved, many problems can arise in a person’s life. Some people experience nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, depression, phobias or panic attacks. To escape these unwanted thoughts and feelings, some people use drugs or alcohol. Over time, their tolerance builds up and they need more to get the desired effect, putting them at risk for addiction.

Without treatment, both the trauma or grief and substance use will run its course. It’s also possible for other mental and physical problems to develop. To heal from trauma, grief and substance use, treatment is necessary. Fortunately, they respond well to evidence-based treatment techniques like the ones offered at Wolf Creek.

Treatment Options for Trauma and Grief/Loss

Remember, trauma and grief are personal. Even if you weren’t directly involved in an accident, the shock of it can leave you traumatized. Likewise with grief. You don’t have to lose a close family member to experience loss. This can also happen with divorce, changes in your health or the loss of a job. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should feel a certain way or be handling things better.

That said, when you notice that you aren’t healing as well as you should, it’s important to speak with a qualified counselor or advisor. You can get your life back through counseling, relaxation techniques and possibly medication. Drugs or alcohol are NOT the answer.

Here are the treatments we recommend for treating trauma, grief/loss and substance use.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Antidepressant medications

Going through trauma or grief is extremely difficult no matter how ‘strong’ a person is. Unfortunately, some people have a hard time accepting their new life and end up using drugs or alcohol as an escape. While this is a difficult cycle to be trapped in, trauma, grief and substance use respond well to treatment. Contact Wolf Creek to learn more about our treatment options for hope and healing.

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At Wolf Creek Recovery, we take a values based approach when addressing substance use.

1-833-732-8202

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1-833-732-8202