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How Can an Alcohol Rehab Center Help Me Overcome Trauma and Alcoholism?

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alcohol rehab treatment for trauma and alcoholism
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One of the most common underlying conditions people with alcohol use disorder struggle with is trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In a study looking at adverse childhood experiences (childhood trauma or ACEs), researchers found that children who had experienced trauma were 7.2 times more likely to have an alcohol use disorder.[1]

However, traumatic experiences in childhood aren’t the only type of trauma that increases the risk of alcohol abuse and addiction. Anyone who experiences trauma could be at an increased risk for substance abuse. In a study of Vietnam combat veterans with PTSD, more than half exhibited signs of alcoholism.[2]

Because trauma and PTSD can lead to lingering symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, and social isolation, many people who are struggling turn to alcohol as a way to cope. While alcohol may dull the effects of trauma and help manage emotional distress at first, a dangerous cycle of alcohol abuse can take a serious toll on your mental and physical health.

Seeking integrated treatment for trauma and alcoholism can help you stop drinking safely so you can begin to address and overcome your unresolved trauma. Only once you’ve addressed your trauma can you truly heal and embrace a life in recovery.

Alcohol Rehab Treatment for Trauma and Alcoholism

Trauma and PTSD can cause intrusive memories, avoidant behaviors, drastic mood swings, and a sense of disconnection from the world. Simultaneously, chronic alcohol abuse can physically and chemically change the brain, leading to cognitive issues, impulsivity, and a host of serious health problems.

A dual diagnosis alcohol rehab center can employ a variety of therapies and community-based interventions to help patients overcome trauma and alcoholism so they can lead productive, fulfilling lives.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used alcohol treatment therapies. It can help you identify negative thought processes and behaviors so you can rationalize your thoughts in a healthier way and respond to difficult situations appropriately. However, CBT can also be used to help those with PTSD cope with painful or traumatic memories.

Exercise, Massage, and Other Physical Therapies

Physical activities such as exercise or hiking can significantly reduce anxiety and depression by stimulating the production of dopamine in the brain.[3] Likewise, massage therapy is a relaxing way to stimulate nerve cells in the body and produce dopamine without exerting energy.[4] A holistic alcohol rehab center will incorporate physical healing into the treatment process to enhance your recovery.

Yoga, Meditation, and Breathwork

Whether you experience general anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, or panic attacks, it’s important to have practical ways to cope so you don’t turn to alcohol. Yoga, meditation, and breathwork are three relaxation strategies that are proven to help reduce and manage symptoms of trauma and PTSD.[5] These techniques can also promote mindfulness and stress reduction, further reducing the risk for relapse.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a psychotherapy that has grown in popularity in recent years due to its ability to treat PTSD. EMDR sessions last 90 minutes each during which your therapist will move his or her fingers back and forth in front of your face in rhythmic motions while asking you to follow their finger with your eyes. Simultaneously, you will be instructed to recall a traumatic or emotionally disturbing event. This strategy is proven to reduce distressing emotional responses to traumatic events as well as triggers.[6]

Peer Support

Social withdrawal is extremely common among those with both PTSD and alcohol use disorder. If you have begun using alcohol to cope with your trauma, you may feel very alone, as if nobody understands what you are going through. The truth is, there are entire communities of people out there who have healed from their trauma and have stopped drinking successfully.

Alcohol rehab centers that provide treatment for trauma and alcoholism use group therapy and peer support groups to promote social connection. By developing meaningful relationships with like-minded individuals, you will realize that you are not alone and that there are people who can support you in your recovery journey.

Medical Treatment

Medical treatment is provided throughout alcohol rehab, starting with detox. However, certain prescription medications such as antidepressants can help treat symptoms of PTSD and reduce the risk for relapse. The medical treatment provided will depend on your personal needs, symptoms, and medical history.

treatment for trauma and alcoholism

Get The Care You Need and Deserve

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

(781) 622-9190

Find Evidence-Based Treatment for PTSD, Trauma, and Alcoholism Today

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is a sign of great strength, as coming to terms with your trauma and admitting you have a problem with alcohol isn’t an easy thing to do. At Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we understand the struggles you are facing, which is why we provide comprehensive, individually-tailored support. Our dual diagnosis treatment services utilize a trauma-informed approach that is sensitive to the needs of patients who have experienced trauma in the past. Using an integrative approach, our team treats co-occurring substance abuse and mental health challenges simultaneously so you can achieve a full recovery. Don’t wait any longer for the trauma-sensitive treatment you deserve. Call now to speak with a team member about getting started.


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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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