Help for Emotional Trauma and Substance Abuse
On the surface, emotional trauma may seem to be less harmful than other types of trauma. There are no physical signs, such as bruises or a missing limb. However, emotional trauma is at least as devastating as other kinds of trauma, and perhaps even more so, especially since incidents that cause emotional trauma are often rooted in childhood or ongoing in an adult’s life. Emotional trauma is often linked to other kinds of trauma as well, such as physical or sexual abuse.
What Causes Emotional Trauma?
What is perceived as a traumatic event by one person may have little effect on another. A person witnessing a particularly horrific auto accident may have nightmares about it, develop a phobia about driving, avoid the scene of the accident or display other symptoms of trauma, while the person who was actually in the accident is able to recover from it quickly with no lasting psychological effects.
Some of the causes of emotional trauma are war, natural disasters, accidents, sudden loss of a loved one, severe illness, divorce, and physical, sexual or verbal abuse. In fact, almost any experience that makes you feel that your life or well-being is threatened can be a traumatic experience, even if the threat is only subjective. Thus, constant verbal abuse can be as traumatizing as repeated battering.
Symptoms of Emotional Trauma
Emotional trauma can manifest both physical and emotional symptoms. Emotional symptoms may include anxiety, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, isolating, guilt and feelings of hopelessness. Physical symptoms may include insomnia, muscle tension, aches and pains, digestive issues, an over-developed startle response, rapid heartbeat and generalized fatigue.
Emotional Trauma and Substance Abuse
It’s an unfortunate fact that a great many people who are suffering from trauma disorders of any kind turn to substance abuse as a means of self-medication. They drink or do drugs in order to get relief from the pain of their symptoms. Those who suffered an emotional trauma may also turn to alcohol or drugs because no one seems to recognize that they have been traumatized.
Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs only creates more problems. If the substance abuse is severe or of long standing, it is highly recommended that the trauma survivor begin recovery at a residential trauma rehab center. Detox may be required, and should be done under medical supervision. Choose a facility that has expertise in Dual Diagnosis treatment, since both conditions should be treated concurrently to give the best chance for recovery.