For those struggling with substance abuse, it’s common to have a dual diagnosis (or co-occurring disorders). This means someone suffers from a mental health condition, such as trauma, in addition to addiction. Without proper dual diagnosis treatment, living with co-occurring disorders can be immensely challenging and lead to various negative outcomes.
At Northbound Treatment, we thoroughly evaluate our patients to help them identify the cause of their addictions. Our Orange County treatment centers are equipped to serve those suffering from both addiction and trauma so that they can return to school, reenter the workforce, and reconnect with their loved ones. Learn more about the trauma therapy program at Northbound and how we can help you cope with trauma and overcome addiction.
What Is Trauma?
Trauma is the psychological distress that occurs after experiencing a harrowing or traumatic event. These events could be a single occurrence or ongoing incidences. Examples include experiencing or witnessing violence, sexual abuse, childhood neglect, sudden loss of a loved one, surviving a car accident, natural disasters, or exposure to war or combat.
People who have been through a traumatic experience often live with emotional disturbances, which may include depression, severe anxiety, survivor’s guilt, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma sufferers might also face other chronic mental and physical setbacks, such as insomnia, physical pain, exhaustion, relationship problems, social anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Types of Trauma
Trauma disorders are mental disorders caused by experiencing traumatic events, such as those mentioned above. Northbound Treatment specializes in helping clients confront and cope with different types of trauma, including but not limited to PTSD, childhood trauma, and sexual trauma. We know that every trauma survivor will need a different treatment approach so each trauma therapist is dedicated to finding an effective treatment for each patient’s needs.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD occurs when a person experiences a frightening or traumatic event. PTSD symptoms include: Flashbacks, nightmares, obsessive thoughts, chronic fear, and substantial anxiety. This ongoing emotional turmoil may result in depression, isolation, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse.
Childhood trauma is caused by a terrifying or dangerous event experienced in childhood, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, witnessing violence, or an accident. It can lead to severe distress and behavioral issues, including substance abuse, which often continue into adulthood.
Sexual trauma can occur at any age. The lasting psychological trauma and distress is a result of experiencing sexual assault or ongoing sexual abuse. Sadly, sexual trauma is common and often coincides with drug and alcohol addiction.
Traumatic experiences impact a person’s ability to function in society, form and maintain healthy relationships, refrain from substance abuse, and cope with daily life. Severe psychological impairment is often diagnosed as PTSD, acute stress disorder, and in some cases, adjustment disorder. Trauma-focused therapy (or trauma-based therapy) is evidence-based therapy designed to address the needs of individuals suffering from trauma.
At Northbound, we incorporate a broad range of evidence-based therapies and treat trauma sufferers in a trauma-informed environment. This allows us to safely address the various underlying factors of addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.
Trauma treatment may include:
- Exposure therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Medication assistance
Each client is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Participants of our residential rehab and outpatient program undergo thorough evaluations to determine the right evidence-based trauma treatment based on their individual needs and experiences. By undergoing therapy, addressing underlying psychological issues, and implementing lifestyle changes, individuals can fully recover from trauma.
The clinical therapists at Northbound’s residential rehab and outpatient treatment centers are dedicated to helping people face their trauma and effectively break through the barriers preventing them from living a life free of fear, anger, and anxiety. Our Clinical Director Ryan Snodgrass is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Professional Clinical Counselor who specializes in trauma and addiction. She received her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and has spent the past three years servicing our clients. Her diverse training includes EMDR therapy, psychodrama, DBT, family systems, and extensive experience with the LGBTQ+ community.
Ryan Snodgrass, Clinical Director
Ryan has a passion for supporting our clients and their families through the challenges of substance use, mental health, and trauma recovery. Her work focuses on rebuilding family relationships and helping our clients overcome the traumatic experiences that hinder their ability to live and authentic and meaningful life in sobriety. She appreciates being able to create an environment for individuals to feel safe, supported, and do the work they need to for sustained recovery.
The Lasting Impacts of Trauma
When left untreated, trauma can have severe, lasting impacts on a person. These impacts typically manifest in two ways: behavioral shifts and physical effects.
When someone struggles with trauma and feels as if they can’t escape their traumatic memories, they often go through behavioral shifts. One of the most common behavioral changes seen in trauma sufferers is uncharacteristic engagement in risky and unhealthy actions. This often includes substance abuse, eating disorders (overeating, anorexia, or bulimia), or participating in unsafe activities, such as hazardous driving. Risky behaviors are a coping mechanism for trauma, and they can end up having devastating effects on a person.
In some instances, trauma can have physical implications beyond substance abuse, unhealthy eating, and dangerous actions. Research indicates that specific biological impacts may be a direct result of severe trauma. Upon experiencing a disturbing event, the body activates its stress response. This involves the release of adrenaline (the “fight or flight” hormone) and cortisol (the stress hormone), as well as a racing heartbeat.
Whether trauma is a result of a single event or an ongoing occurrence, those who have it may experience stress responses that are stronger and more frequent than other people. Oftentimes, those with trauma will also exhibit hypervigilance, which is a constant state of extreme alertness and sensitivity to one’s surroundings. Over time, these effects lead to exhaustion and chronic inflammation, which wear on a person physically.
Signs of a Trauma Disorder
While trauma affects everyone in different ways, the signs and symptoms of trauma disorders are often similar among adults. Some of the most common signs of trauma disorders are intrusions (recurrent memories, flashbacks, or nightmares), and negativity, whether it’s an outwardly negative mood, depression, pessimism, or internal negative thoughts, such as hopelessness and a lack of self-esteem.
Other trauma symptoms include:
- Intense responses to stress
- Startling easily
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Concentration issues
- Aggressive outbursts
- Memory issues
Another fundamental sign of a trauma disorder is avoidance, meaning a person avoids talking about their experiences and feelings, as well as environments that might trigger a traumatic memory. Those with post-traumatic stress disorder usually exhibit the most evident and enduring signs of trauma. Acute stress disorder and adjustment disorder tend to be less severe than PTSD, but the symptoms are often the same. If you or a loved one are showing some of the signs and symptoms of a trauma disorder, trauma-focused therapy can help.
Trauma Therapy from Northbound Treatment
Northbound has been providing addiction treatment for over 30 years, and we’re pleased to offer trauma therapy as part of our mental health services. We provide both residential treatment and outpatient programs, including intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment and telehealth programs for those struggling with trauma. Our trauma therapy serves individuals who’ve experienced psychological trauma and are also suffering from drug and alcohol addiction.
Northbound’s Approach to Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis treatment is an integrated approach to trauma therapy that focuses on both mental health and substance abuse issues. When trauma-based therapy and chemical dependency treatment are implemented into one comprehensive recovery program, our clients have the tools they need to work through their mental and emotional setbacks, get sober, discover themselves, maintain healthy relationships, and adjust to a happy life.
Multifaceted Mental Health Services
Northbound Treatment utilizes a multifaceted approach to trauma therapy. We combine individual and group sessions with CBT and experiential therapies, such as art therapy, music therapy, and animal care. Northbound also implements various esteem-building activities, including life-skill building, relaxation techniques, and personal growth exercises, as well as surfing, hiking, and other physical exercises.
Additionally, Northbound Treatment strives to include as much outdoor time as possible for our residential treatment programs. Research supports the notion that fresh air, sunlight, and physical activity can benefit mental health. Our integrated approach allows our clients to cope with the effects of trauma without turning to drugs or alcohol.
In some instances, prescribing medication may be an appropriate component of trauma-based therapy. However, it is Northbound’s philosophy to limit medications unless they’re necessary to effectively treat a condition. To ensure efficacy, we work with psychiatric referrals to determine whether medication is needed and to identify which medications may be most useful.
Trauma therapy from Northbound Treatment adheres to the principles of trauma-informed care. This means our programs approach trauma with an understanding of and sensitivity to its pervasive nature within a safe, healing environment. With trauma-informed therapy, psychotherapists act as partners to their patients, helping them obtain a sense of control, encouraging self-care practices, and ultimately guiding them to a place of healing while avoiding retraumatization.
Northbound offers both short- and long-term treatment options for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and debilitating mental health disorders. Our programs include unique services designed to not only help clients overcome addiction and emotional distress but also to provide them with the support they need to reach their personal goals. Learn more about our Collegebound, Careerbound, music, and family therapy programs.
Contact us at Northbound Treatment to learn more about our trauma therapy program in Orange County, California. If you’re ready to begin your treatment journey, fill out our online form or call (844) 919-0403.