Aug 02

Trauma and Substance Abuse

Trauma and Substance Abuse

Some people increase their use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs to cope with how they are feeling after experiencing trauma. This is often called ‘self-medication.’ While this often gives some short-term relief, unfortunately, in the long run it can make things worse. Alcohol, tobacco and other drug use can interfere with the brain’s natural processing of the trauma and substance abuse patterns can then take root.

People often say that when they reduce or stop drinking, smoking or using, their trauma reactions become more frequent or intense. This is the body‘s way of saying that the trauma is unfinished business that needs to be dealt with. Some people find that they develop alcohol, tobacco or other drug problems because they need to drink or use greater amounts more frequently to keep the trauma reactions at bay. This can lead to a cycle where reactions to trauma and alcohol, tobacco or other drug use feed off each other.

Trauma is an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury or threat to one’s physical safety. Trauma also refers to directly experienced, witnessed or learned about events. So, even if the traumatic event didn’t happen to you, if you heard about a traumatic event that affected someone else, especially someone close to you, you could still feel traumatized.

Traumatic Events Experienced Directly

• Military combat

• Natural or manmade disaster

• Being kidnapped

• Being taken hostage

• Terrorist attack

• Torture

• Concentration camp internee

• Severe auto accidents

• Violent personal assault such as sexual or physical (i.e. mugging), or psychological (i.e. robbery)

• Life threatening illness

• Prisoner of War

Traumatic Events Witnessed

• Violent assault

• Accident

• War

• Disaster

• Unexpected witnessing a dead body or remains

Traumatic Events Experienced or Learned About (Family Member or Close Friend)

• Violent personal assault

• Serious accident

• Serious injury experienced

• Sudden, unexpected death

• Your child has a life-threatening disease

Trauma and Substance Abuse: Why It Is Counter-Productive to Self-Medicate

Using drugs to deal with trauma only provides temporary relief, if any at all; and in fact makes things worse. Rather than calming nerves, alcohol and other drugs can actually increase both anxiety and fears, intensify and exaggerate emotions and long term use can even cause emotional stagnation. Substance abuse to treat trauma often blocks necessary psychological processing and can prevent or delay the natural completion of the grieving process. Drug use often results in a lower functioning capacity resulting in poor choices and poor decisions and even behavioral dysfunction. Substance abuse can disrupt sleep, especially stage four (or deep sleep), and it can increase nightmares and make them more vivid and believable, leading to an even more fragile mental state.

Trauma and Substance Abuse Treatment

The fact that there is a connection between trauma and substance abuse has been known for decades by professionals treating people who experience both trauma and substance abuse.

Clinical studies of patients in substance abuse treatment programs have shown a high correlation with a client history of trauma. Model programs are being developed that seek to treat these both trauma and substance abuse in an integrated fashion.

 

Sources:

http://www.samhsa.gov/

http://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/

Jul 22

How to Control Binge Eating

How to Control Binge Eating

What is Binge Eating?

Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal. But for some people, overeating crosses the line to binge-eating disorder and it becomes a regular occurrence, and is usually done in secret.

When you have binge-eating disorder, you may be deeply embarrassed about gorging and vow to stop. But you feel such a compulsion that you can’t resist the urges and continue binge eating. If you have binge-eating disorder, treatment can help.

Causes of Binge Eating

The causes of binge-eating disorder are unknown. But family history, biological factors, long-term dieting and psychological issues, such as those resulting from childhood trauma and/or abuse, increase your risk. Many studies have documented a link between childhood abuse and later obesity. The reasoning for this is possibly because stress may cause one to overeat high-sugar and high-fat “comfort” foods in an uncontrolled way.Women who have experienced physical or sexual childhood abuse before the age of 18 are almost twice as likely to have a food addiction in the middle of adulthood in comparison with women without a history of childhood abuse. The likelihood of a food addiction is also increased further for women who have experienced both physical and sexual childhood abuse. The prevalence of afood addiction varies from six percent in women without a history of physical or sexual childhood abuse to sixteen percent among women who do have a history of both severe physical and sexual childhood abuse.

How to Control Binge Eating

Traditional Treatments:

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, whether in individual or group sessions, can help teach you how to exchange unhealthy habits for healthy ones and reduce bingeing episodes.

Medications

There’s no medication specifically designed to treat binge-eating disorder. But, several types of medication may help reduce symptoms, especially when combined with psychotherapy.

 

Other Ways to Control Binge Eating

Lifestyle and home remedies

  • Stick to your treatment. Don’t skip therapy sessions.
  • Avoid dieting. Trying to diet can trigger more binge episodes, leading to a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.
  • Eat breakfast. Many people with binge-eating disorder skip breakfast. But, if you eat breakfast, you may be less prone to eating higher calorie meals later in the day.
  • Don’t stock up. Keep less food in your home than you normally do. That may mean more-frequent trips to the grocery store, but it may also take away the temptation binge eating.
  • Get the right nutrients. Just because you may be eating a lot during binges doesn’t mean you’re eating the kinds of food that supply all of your essential nutrients. Talk to your doctor about vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • Stay connected. Don’t isolate yourself from caring family members and friends who want to see you get healthy.
  • Get active. Ask your health care provider what kind of physical activity is appropriate for you, especially if you have health problems related to being overweight.

 

Alternative Medicine to Treat Binge Eating

  • Massage and therapeutic touch
  • Mind-body therapies
  • Acupuncture

 

Coping and Support to Deal with Binge Eating

  • Ease up on yourself. Don’t buy into your own self-criticism.
  • Identify situations that may trigger your binge eating.
  • Look for positive role models who can help lift your self-esteem, even if they’re not easy to find.
  • Try to find a confidant you can talk to about what’s going on. Together, you may be able to come up with some treatment options.
  • Try to find someone who can be your partner in the battle against binge eating — someone you can call on for support instead of bingeing.
  • Find healthy ways to nurture yourself by doing something just for fun or to relax, such as yoga, meditation or simply a walk.
  • Consider journaling about your feelings and behaviors.

 

Support for binge eating can also come from a 12 Step fellowship. There are meetings for Overeaters Anonymous. The 12 Step program can be helpful in learning how to cope with your food addiction and binge eating and also in shaping a new, healthy lifestyle. If you find yourself struggling to cope, there are treatment programs that treat eating disorders such as binge eating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com

www.wikipedia.org

http://womenstreatmentcenter.com

Sep 14

The link between trauma and women’s addiction

The link between trauma and women’s addiction

Traditionally, drug and alcohol treatment has been male-focused.  Addiction counselors would only focus on the addiction, and leave other issues to be resolved at a different time. As more women began seeking treatment for drug and alcohol treatment, this attitude began to change. Studies indicate that there is a significant link between trauma and women’s addiction. A history of being abused increases the likelihood that a woman will abuse alcohol and other drugs. A vast majority of addicted women have suffered violence and other forms of abuse. Women have a much higher rate of recovery when the trauma is treated along with the substance abuse issues.

Trauma and Women’s Addiction: What is trauma?

Emotional and psychological trauma results from an extremely stressful or disturbing event that shatters your sense of security. People who have gone through a traumatic event feel unsafe, and this can affect the way they interact with the world around them. Trauma can have both emotional and physical repercussions.

Drug addicts and alcoholics who have suffered trauma often find that the experiences of the past can get in the way of their recovery. They will often relive the pain of the experience over and over, and use drugs and alcohol to numb them. Also, past trauma can trap an addict or alcoholic in the “victim” role. They will use the trauma of what happened to them to excuse their using and drinking. If they don’t let go of what has happened in the past, there is a very slim chance that they will stay clean and sober in the long term. Women are particularly prone to playing the “victim” role when they have experienced some type of trauma in their past.

Trauma and Women’s Addiction: How does trauma affect you?

Trauma can affect you in a number of different ways, both psychologically and physically. Common psychological symptoms of trauma include shock, anger, guilt, shame, hopelessness, confusion, and anxiety. Trauma can manifest itself physically by causing nightmares, insomnia, muscle tension, body aches, and fatigue. These symptoms can last for months to years after the trauma occurs and they can interfere with your ability to function normally.

Trauma and Women’s Addiction: The link

Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse play a strong role in the course of addiction development in women. Some studies report that up to 85% of addicted women have experienced some form of trauma. As women spiral downward in their addiction, they often lose their sense of self and self-worth. The keys to developing effective drug and alcohol treatment for women are acknowledging and understanding their life experiences and the impact of living as a female in a male-based society. Women benefit from this type of holistic women centered treatment protocol. Trauma resolution and self-esteem building exercises are integral to treating addiction in women. Women also tend to do better in a situation where they feel comfortable, safe, and respected. This is one of the benefits of women’s only treatment centers.