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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Trauma and Addiction

Working Towards Understanding and Empathy

Addiction is a concept that can be extremely difficult to understand, for both those in it’s grasp and those observing it’s destruction. Understanding and treating addiction can be overwhelming and complex. Oftentimes we don’t know where to begin. In my experience over the last ten years working in the mental health field, I’ve learned about the important role that trauma plays in developing addiction, whether that be to a substance or destructive behavior. As a result, I’m a firm believer that one can’t find themselves addicted without first experiencing some level of trauma.
CREATES THE PERFECT STORM”Oftentimes we view trauma as something dramatic and in your face. We conjure up images of war, death and violent assaults. But the reality is that the majority of trauma is much more insidious and understated. Having a parent who sent you the message that nothing you did was ever good enough. Never feeling like you really fit in growing up. The loss of a serious romantic relationship. I’ve heard trauma described as “anything less than nurturing”. If that is true, we have all experienced trauma at some point in our lives. And if this trauma hasn’t been processed, we are walking around with an open wound.
Trauma can be far reaching in its influence on one’s life. Trauma can impact our beliefs about ourselves, the quality of our relationships, even how our brain biology works. It can lead to feelings of low self worth, chronic hypervigilance and can result in self destructive behaviors. Addiction can be understood as an attempt to cope with the discomfort of trauma, to escape and deny the painful reality of what one has experienced, to create a false confidence when inside one is falling apart or questioning their worth. Addiction is utilized as a chemical solution to a soul problem. And trauma creates the perfect storm for desperation to feel better, any way that we can. Thus, the addiction isn’t necessarily the problem, but the attempted solution to the real problem. And if we aren’t treating the real problem, our trauma, we aren’t treating our addiction.


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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

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Our current President, Barrack Obama, has a history of addressing our Nation’s drug epidemic. Recently his concerns about drug addiction have spawned new initiatives to deal with the issue. In February, Obama proposed a billion-dollar plan to fight opioid abuse and addiction. This act highlights the growing concern over addiction, specifically to opioids, that has sprung up across our Country. Previously a taboo topic, drug addiction has really entered center stage with the deaths of famous celebrities to drugs and alcohol, as well as a sudden spike in the overdose and death rate among young adults. Obama’s direct confrontation of the dark reality of addiction should be seen as “a step in the right direction” for drug-abuse awareness advocates and families ravaged by addiction. Find out how Obama plans to deal with the deadly epidemic spreading throughout America.

A New Movement

Historically, the White House has approached the topic of reducing addiction by going after the drug dealers and the drug users. The so-called “War on Drugs” has practiced punishing and incarcerating both the people selling drugs and the people using drugs. Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No” plan to end addiction and alcoholism failed to bring about a decrease in addiction rates. Both programs have failed to reduce drug addiction or to discourage young people from trying drugs. The main result has been a flooding of the prison systems with drug-related criminals, often repeat offenders. In prison, addicts have little access to recovery resources or treatment options.

warondrugsRather than addressing the underlying cause and conditions of the rise of addiction in America, the government has previously utilized punishment and fear to deter citizens from using drugs. Unfortunately, the 28,647 opioid related deaths in 2014, a 400 percent increase form 2000, signal the failure of their efforts. The substantial rise of drug-related deaths, crimes, and hospitalizations has called for a different method of dealing with the situation.

Obama’s speech on Tuesday expressed an alternative way to end addiction. Our President talked about the need for resources devoted to the prevention and treatment of addiction, rather than continuing the “War on Drugs” policies of the last few decades. “For too long we’ve viewed drug addiction through the lens of criminal justice,” said Obama on Tuesday. Rather than go after the suppliers of drugs, Obama proposed “the most important thing to do is reduce demand. And the only way to do that is to provide treatment – to see it as a public health problem and not a criminal problem.” Professional treatment for addiction has come a long way in the last decade, but access to qualified doctors and therapists is still lacking. Basically addicts are dying because they can’t afford or don’t have access to adequate treatment. Obama said addiction has historically not been viewed as a public health problem, in part because it was viewed as affecting “the poor and minorities”. Recent research has shown that the current opioid epidemic is affecting people of every race and from different backgrounds, including affluent and middle-class males and females. The billion dollars pledged to fight addiction signals a new phase in our government’s response to the addiction crisis.


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