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Trauma Rehab Centers

Support Groups for Trauma and Addiction

Support Groups for Trauma and AddictionThere are two ways in which support groups for trauma and addiction can be tremendously helpful. The first is as a supplement to initial outpatient treatment for those who are capable of maintaining their normal daily lives. The second is as aftercare for those who have sought inpatient treatment. In fact, they probably have already been working with a support group while in residential care.

Trauma and Addiction Go Hand in Hand

It’s an unfortunate fact that a great many people who have experienced a traumatic event (such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, violent crime, war, a severe accident or illness, a family loss or a natural disaster) turn to alcohol or drugs as a means of self-medicating and numbing their pain. Residential treatment is recommended for those who have a Dual Diagnosis of trauma and substance abuse. If the substance abuse is severe, detox will probably be necessary, and that should be done under medical supervision.

It’s important that both the trauma and the addiction be treated concurrently. It would be pointless to treat the addiction without treating the underlying cause, and such treatment is probably doomed to failure and relapse. Treating the trauma disorder without dealing with the addiction is equally ill advised, since the loss of judgment and inhibition resulting from substance abuse can very likely lead to secondary trauma.

What Happens in Trauma and Addiction Support Groups?

Those who have been in residential treatment facilities are likely to be familiar with support groups already, but if this is your first experience, you might be nervous and unsure of what will happen. Most support groups follow the same basic format, in which members tell their stories. Each speaker will describe their trauma and/or the addiction, and talk about what is working and not working in his or her recovery. Often, after the main speaker, other members may speak for shorter periods of time. You will be encouraged to tell your story, but no one will force you to speak until you are ready.

The premise of support groups is that members help each other by encouraging them, listening to them when they are in need and sharing coping mechanisms that may help them deal with symptoms such as sleep disorders, irritability, anxiety attacks and reliving the trauma. Some support groups, especially those associated with a treatment facility, will be led by a professional therapist. Others, such as most 12-step meetings, use only peer counseling. Whichever type of support group you choose, consistent attendance and sincere sharing and listening will provide you with powerful tools for your recovery.