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The Sacrifice of Trauma Survivors

The Sacrifice of Trauma Survivors

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the following facts on adolescents and trauma:

  • More than one in seven children have experienced child abuse and neglect in the past year, and this is likely an underestimate. In 2019, 1,840 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States.
  • Every day, more than 1,000 youth are treated in emergency departments for physical assault-related injuries.
  • In 2019, about one in five high school students reported being bullied on school property in the last year.
  • Eight percent of high school students had been in a physical fight on school property one or more times during the 12 months before the survey.
  • Every day, about 14 youth die from homicide, and more than 1,300 are treated in emergency departments for violence-related injuries.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is a response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms the nervous system and causes stress. While teen trauma survivors may experience different types of traumas, there are some general effects that most survivors often experience. These effects can be physical, emotional, behavioral, or cognitive. For example, it’s common for teen survivors to feel shocked and confused immediately after a traumatic event. They may have difficulty understanding what has happened and why. 

Many survivors feel overwhelmed, helpless, and alone. It’s also common for teen survivors to experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and difficulty concentrating. In the weeks and months following the traumatic event, teen survivors may have intrusive thoughts about the event or avoid thinking about it altogether. They may also have nightmares or flashbacks.

Some teen survivors become ravenous, while others lose their appetite. In addition, many survivors have difficulty trusting people and feel isolated from others. As a result, teen trauma survivors may act out in school or at home, withdraw from friends and activities they once enjoyed, or have increased outbursts of anger. 

Trauma Lives in the Body

Trauma is stored in the body in a variety of ways. One way is through the nervous system. The nervous system essentially serves as a record of our experiences, and this includes traumatic experiences. When we experience trauma, our nervous system is activated and sends signals to the brain that something dangerous is happening.

This changes how the brain processes information and how we respond to stress. It can also change how our body stores energy and how our immune system functions. In short, trauma can have a profound impact on our physical health.

Another way that trauma is stored is through the endocrine system. The endocrine system regulates hormones, and hormones play a role in how we respond to stress. For example, when we experience trauma, our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol. Cortisol helps us cope with stress in the short term, but if it’s released too often or for too long, it can adversely affect our health. Trauma can also lead to changes in other hormones, like testosterone and estrogen. These changes can impact our mood, energy levels, and sexual function.

Finally, trauma is also stored in the body through our cells. Our cells can change and adapt in response to stress. Trauma changes the way cells function and can “get stuck” if not effectively addressed. When trauma gets trapped, it can progress into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Somatic Therapy

Trauma is a very real and debilitating condition that can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental and physical health. When someone experiences a traumatic event, their body goes into survival mode, releasing a surge of adrenaline and cortisol. This fight or flight response is designed to help us deal with immediate danger, but it can also have a lasting impact on our bodies. Research has shown that trauma is stored in our cells and that the mind-body connection is key to treating trauma

Somatic therapies, which use the mind-body connection to heal the body, are some of the most effective trauma treatments. This therapy can help to release the stored trauma from our cells and allow us to heal both physically and emotionally.

Trauma stored in the body often presents in the form of muscle tension, pain, and repetitive patterns of thought and behavior. Examples of somatic interventions aimed at reducing trauma and traumatic symptoms include:

  • Somatic experiencing therapy (SE)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Sensorimotor psychotherapy (SMP)

These therapy methods can be very effective in treating trauma, as they allow the client to access and release stored trauma from the body. Somatic therapy can also help to rewire the brain so that memories of past trauma no longer trigger clients. 

While somatic therapy can be beneficial for treating trauma, it’s crucial to work with a qualified therapist who understands how to safely and effectively lead clients through these types of treatments.

Teen trauma survivors often face a long and difficult road to recovery. Trauma can have a lasting impact on both physical and mental health, and teen survivors may struggle with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, teen trauma survivors may have difficulty trusting others, maintaining healthy relationships, and feeling safe in the world. All of these factors increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder tenfold. While each person responds to trauma in their own way, there are some common symptoms and reactions that teen trauma survivors may experience such as hypervigilance, anxiety, and racing thoughts. It is important to remember that teen trauma survivors are not alone; there is help available. With the right support, teen trauma survivors can begin to heal and move on with their lives. For information on treating trauma in teens, call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604.

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What Is Codependency and Its Connection to SUD?

What Is Codependency and Its Connection to SUD?

Codependency can happen to anyone. However, a person who is closely connected to someone who abuses alcohol or drugs has a significantly higher risk of experiencing codependency. Partners and relatives of someone that is addicted to substances may feel a need to justify their loved one’s substance use, downplay its severity, or enable their substance use as a result of wanting to maintain a relationship with their loved one.

While codependent relationships can happen without substance use playing a factor, addiction tends to perpetuate codependent behaviors in relationships. It is important to understand that codependent relationships are destructive for both partners. However, effective treatments are available to help heal both substance use disorders and associated codependency.

What Is Codependency?

Codependency is a circular relationship where both partners have an excessive psychological or emotional reliance on one another. It is a condition that impairs a person’s ability to have a mutually healthy relationship with another person. A codependent relationship can be recognized as a form of behavioral addiction.

Codependency can look like many things, such as covering up a loved one’s addiction or constantly needing reassurance. Over time, the struggling partner will start to lean on their partner to fulfill all of their emotional and psychological needs. In turn, the other partner will feel validated by feeling needed by the struggling partner. This begins the cycle of codependency.

These types of relationships are unhealthy because they limit both partners’ ability to function independently outside of the relationship. Both partners become conditioned to the unhealthy way of obtaining self-esteem from one another without even realizing it.

What Is the Difference Between Love and Codependency?

Sometimes, codependent relationships can be confused with loving relationships. A partner may be blind to their enabling behaviors, especially when they believe that they are behaving out of love for their struggling partner. They may even define their actions as “loving.” However, codependency is not loved. Codependency is seeking love from a partner based on personal feelings of insecurity. Oppositely, healthy relationships are balanced with mutual give and take. They do not involve one person sacrificing all of their needs for the benefit of the other.

In other cases, one partner may feel like it’s their job to fix the struggling partner. This may happen with romantic partners but can also happen with a guardian and a struggling dependent, such as a mother trying to mask the addictive behaviors of their child. This can look less like fixing and more like taking control. In this case, the mother’s life becomes defined by her child’s addiction.

Examples of Codependent Behaviors

The following behaviors are commonly associated with codependent relationships:

  • A strong desire or desperation to be liked
  • Blurred or non-existent relationship boundaries
  • Taking on way too many responsibilities than is wise or recommended
  • Constantly trying to “fix” other people’s problems
  • A constant need to control others
  • Difficulties making decisions within relationships
  • Poor communication skills
  • Difficulty establishing and enforcing boundaries
  • Low self-esteem or constant self-doubt
  • A deep fear of abandonment
  • Excessive people-pleasing or desire for approval
  • Putting others’ needs before your own

What Is the Effect of Codependency on Substance Use Disorders?

Drugs and alcohol tend to exacerbate issues in relationships, especially when partners already have codependent tendencies. The “enabler” in the codependent relationship will often neglect their well-being or responsibilities to fulfill the struggling partners’ needs. The struggling partner, in turn, may resort to manipulating the other partner into helping them conceal their addiction or shield them from its consequences. The enabler may feel compelled to “fix” any of the problems in the addict’s life that they cannot or will not fix themself.

Codependency can affect an entire family unit, not just the relationship between two people. Young kids that grow up hiding their mom’s or dad’s addiction may repeat their secret-keeping behavior if they find themself struggling with substance use in the future. Children may also fail to develop the social or communication skills needed to thrive in school. These patterns are difficult to break the longer they are left unresolved.

How to Overcome Codependency

While codependent relationships may feel like a never-ending, unhealthy cycle, there are ways to heal from them. The codependent person may benefit from therapy by learning skills needed to increase their self-esteem or to create appropriate boundaries in their relationships. The person struggling with substance abuse will benefit from substance use treatment, particularly treatment for co-occurring conditions. If the whole family is involved in a codependent relationship, particularly children, family counseling may be a good option so everyone can heal simultaneously.

Some of the necessary tools for overcoming codependency include improving communication and learning new behaviors. This can look like conflict management skills and setting boundaries, such as “I will listen to your problems and be supportive, but I need this set of hours to focus on myself and my own needs.” Once you identify the unhealthy relationship patterns, the easier it will be to start replacing old behaviors with new ones.

At Clearfork Academy, we understand that reaching out for help is often the hardest step. It can be heartbreaking to realize that your efforts to help someone you love who is struggling with drugs or alcohol may be causing more harm than good. The good news is that helping someone overcome an addiction is not your responsibility. The struggling person must decide on their own that they want to get better before it can actually happen. Our staff is equipped to help addicts along that path to recovery. With individual or group therapy, residential treatment programs, intensive outpatient treatments, and more, we have a high success rate in helping young people break destructive patterns in their lives. To learn more about how to heal from codependency or to learn more about our treatment programs, please call us today at (888) 966-8604