If you have been neglected, abused or hurt you might want to determine how much pain from trauma you are carrying. Individuals hold the keys to their addiction recovery by deciding on the path they will take. For many, the voids in life allow help for alcohol and drug addiction to relapse.
Unfortunately, some treatment today deals with the specific alcohol and drugs, but neglects any help or information for the underlying causes. A more complete wellness might be found by seeking healing from past pain coupled with overcoming substances.
The Building Block for Recovery
The world of codependency, drugs and alcohol is built on lack of trust and dishonesty. Nobody knows who to count on, what to expect, or where to find information or help. Lies and deceit are evident but most families avoid confrontation. Children can be ruled by a glance or expression and home is often times chaotic while putting on a pretense of calm.
(It may be helpful to read the family roles to understand dynamics of families dealing with addiction or codependency.)
Many times those who are encouraged to hide emotions are naturally traumatized because there is no help, information, nurturing, explanation, warmth or encouragement of individuality. Basic needs of human development are denied, often hindering healthy emotional and spiritual growth.
A definition of trauma is: unexpected happenings.
The Family Role Players Involved
Trauma in Addiction and Codependency Recovery
In situations where there is codependency and addiction, the recovery process and general life can find unpredictable, emotional responses generating a constant string of trauma. This traumatic pattern creates a pain, which is often ignored or compounded by scoffing, creates the mascot, and hinders recovery.
Although aware of the issues and deception, the lost child has learned not to ask questions or be confrontational. They “play it safe” to avoid pain and survive.
The hero, also aware of all issues, continues to act as though all is well, and seeks approval through perfectionism.
The rebel in the face of the issues, acts out.
The Symptom of Repression Present
Traumatic experiences are often present in addiction and codependency recovery.
Repression is a key symptom of traumatic experience. Repression can block emotional and spiritual growth as it eliminates or denies feelings which are the bridge to true emotional and spiritual life, the “child,” or “inner self.” Therefore, in a traumatic situation the bond to the emotional or spiritual realm is denied and original, creative, or express ideas are not allowed to surface.
Overcoming trauma has to do with breaking the cycle of repression and putting responsibility on the those who ruled your life. A family should realize individuality and different goals and thought systems of each member.
An example would be if a cruel regime was running the country. Fear would control life and dictate repression of non-conforming (meaning creative) action. Fear and loss is the foundation of addiction and fear of loss is the foundation of codependency.
Once recovery is sought, it takes a great effort to become whole. Overcoming the cycle of trauma from codependency or a family addiction role is not often facilitated by those involved, making it necessary to find a help group or church to associate with.
As growth is achieved it is possible to find the courage to confront violators, if necessary, and find true emotional and spiritual growth.
In addition to substance(s) a person or family can become addicted to religion, abuse, family roles, or any other escape from the truth.
Helping Others in the Trauma Recovery Process
Help for others dealing with traumatic experiences must be a careful process.
Remember to seek professional help.
Trauma alone can be a difficult treatment process. When coupled with other issues the situation can become even more fragile. The information that follows are ideas that may help your ability to communicate with, and understand the position of, someone dealing with a traumatic experience.
- Learn all you can about Post Traumatic Stress.
- (Workshops, books and tapes, are available.)
- Don’t blame the victim.
- Allow the victim privacy when they ask for it.
- Do pay attention and don’t change the subject.
- (Often the same thing needs to be restated for the victim to lessen the impact.)
- Accept the anger and other feelings and express how painful it must have been.
- Help with other daily activities if needed.
- Encourage journaling.
- Take the victim for walks if possible to see life is still okay.
- Don’t isolate from the victim.
- Don’t put a time limit on how long recovery takes.
- Recovery time is often related to the amount of support received.
- Expect flashbacks, or a time where you thought things were better and then the victim seems to go backward.
- Do not see going backward as a failure.
- (Criticism of someone in a delicate, fragile state can lead to regression.)
- Have fun when you can.
- (Even flowers or going to dinner can be helpful.)
- The more previous traumas or chaotic the person’s life has been, the more severe the trauma may appear.
- Be prepared to be gentle and supportive.
The Need for Resolution in Addiction and Codependency
Unresolved feelings of guilt, shame, emptiness, loneliness, etc. regarding situations that are beyond control (tragedy, death, etc.) of an individual cause trauma. If left unresolved these feelings, may lead to “acting out” in the form of an addiction, whether it be eating, isolating, fantasizing, drinking or taking drugs to provide a picture happiness.
(These symptoms are most common when feelings are denied in the family.)
Trauma and addiction are often closely related and when unchecked can feed off of each other creating a situation much more challenging for addiction recovery as opposed to dealing with one aspect by itself. In cases where the two are connected the underlying cause must be overcome or the door for relapse is open.
Addiction recovery is about being whole, requiring the removal of all underlying causes.
- The process of healing and overcoming must not be rushed. Overwhelming a person will only confirm and compound emotional insecurity.
While the structure and disciplined style of twelve steps are beneficial to many, moderation may works for well for those who have used addiction to cover up issues, but still have not dealt with the underlying emotional burden feeding the addiction.
Others may choose a dual process involving personal moderation to build confidence, then moving to a twelve step or other abstinence promoting program.
There is no “right answer,” except the one that works for you.
The goal is to be whole, not perfect.
What has taken years to build in your life will not go away instantly. Congratulate yourself on being strong enough to confront your issues and continue in a persistent quest for your overcoming adversity.