The disease of addiction causes so much collateral in someone’s life that it is hard to gauge it all completely at first. The process of inventorying the damage that an addiction has caused sometimes takes a lifetime. It pretty much starts immediately, as well, once and addiction begins to form.
The early stages of an addiction are elusive. The behaviors and symptoms that are associated with it tend to “blend in” with the behavior of others and the scenery around them, so to speak. Depending on the lifestyle of the person in whom the disease is growing, sometimes things do not become too obvious until much later, long after their addiction starts to form.
The problems tend to begin small, barely being noticeable to anyone and register as nothing more than just the occasional occurrence of bad behavior. Then the problems get worse and worse and the person begins to hide more and more from the world, emotionally and physically. It is at this point that the real trauma starts to occur. Things get lost and destroyed and the addict feels that it is their fault. They do not realize that it is the disease that is doing the destruction, but they have no tools yet, no way to differentiate what they are and what their disease is.
When it comes time to get help, then a detox facility is recommended. There, the person will get physically sober from the substances that they were using by help of medications and people who care. This is where the healing begins. Someone who enters detox will start to get broken away from the crippling isolation that the disease of an addiction will bring on. They will see they are not alone. People are there who care about them, and others are being treated with the same issues.
Move On Into Treatment
Once detoxification is done, it is then time to move into a treatment facility. In treatment, the emotional and mental damage of what has happened will start to become healed. The recovering addict will get further out of their shell as they socialize with other patients and learn how to manage their lives through counseling.
However, one thing that seems to be missed in the regiment of counseling and treatment that treatment centers provide is trauma assessment. The life of an addict is traumatic- things are destroyed and lost to a large degree. The American Medical Association defines trauma (emotional trauma) as: “An experience that is emotionally painful, distressful, or shocking and which may result in lasting mental and physical effects.” To any recovering addict or alcoholic, this hits pretty close to home.
Trauma assessment and treatment are separate things when it comes to the overall treatment of someone who is in recovery. Trauma treatment can be seen in people like those who are returning war veterans, survivors of things like rape or a shooting, and so on, just to name a few of the extremes. Trauma has it’s own way of acting on the mind and the soul.
“Trauma treatment” is not really included in the healing process for someone who was an addict or an alcoholic, and it should be. Yes, some of the problems are remedied in the steps and through other various things that 12-step programs have to offer, but the idea that Trauma has occurred has not really been considered.
If this idea was implemented in treatment centers and for people who are out of treatment centers and in 12-step programs, then the way that these people are healed will become much more rounded and thorough. It is only a matter of people, especially counselors, familiarizing themselves with what trauma is, what it does and how it can be overcome.