Veteran going through his PTSD treatment programGranite Recovery Centers treats substance use disorders centers utilizing a 12-Step curriculum integrated with evidence-based clinical therapies such as trauma therapy. Clinical specialists in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) help clients identify and understand the root of their compulsion to use in relation to their trauma. Only through careful examination of their negative behaviors, compulsion triggers, and also the connection to their trauma, can clients move forward through treatment and into recovery.

Defining Trauma and PTSD

Trauma is defined as an event or circumstance that a person experiences as harmful and one that they have difficulty coping with. Oftentimes, trauma with the most lasting adverse effects stem from childhood, but trauma can be experienced at any life stage. For example, forms of trauma include:

  • Sexual assault
  • Child neglect
  • Physical and/or sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • War violence
  • Community violence
  • Medical trauma
  • Traumatic loss
  • Natural disasters

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder usually follows a traumatic event or period of time. Patients with PTSD present the following characteristics:

  • Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence
  • Intrusive memories, recurring dreams, flashbacks or other troubling reactions to the event
  • Avoidance of people, places or things associated with the event
  • A generally negative change in thoughts or mood following the event(s)
  • Heightened arousal beginning or worsening after the event(s) (for example: being startled very easily, feeling “on edge,” or having difficulty sleeping).

CBT Interventions for Trauma and PTSD

Trauma and PTSD treatment is most commonly approached using Cognitive Behavioral Therapies(CBT) including:

  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Talking about and examining thoughts and associations with the trauma, in order to learn how to process them more positively to provoke healthier coping behaviors.
  • Psycho-dynamic Therapy: Talking in a free association manner about the trauma and how it has impacted one’s life. The therapist helps the patient organize these thoughts into a pattern of impactful cognitive meaning, which defines the trauma and resolves the negative feelings and resultant negative behavior patterns.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR): Recalling the trauma while engaging in a physical, lateral eye movement exercise. EMDR can be therapeutic in reprocessing trauma and desensitizing the intense and negative responses associated with harmful memories.

Trauma and Substance Use Disorders: A Co-Occurring Crisis

The effects of trauma and PTSD compound when substance use is used as a coping strategy. Whether a substance use disorder begins with a trauma or a preexisting substance use disorder is amplified by a trauma, the result is a co-occurring emotional crisis.

Over half of all clients seeking treatment for substance use disorders have experienced trauma which that has contributed to compulsive use of substances. Major trauma — whether repressed or acknowledged – produces feelings of pain, shame, regret, anger, and guilt that, if not processed properly, can catalyze self-destructive behaviors such as alcohol or drug use. When clients seek treatment for a substance use disorder, Granite Recovery Centers’ clinicians and 12-Step facilitators often encounter unprocessed trauma that require clinical intervention. Through Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, clients can through their trauma and develop more positive ways of coping.

Trauma Therapy Meets the 12 Steps

Granite Recovery Centers treats clients struggling with trauma or PTSD and substance use disorders. We use specialized clinical interventions that integrate seamlessly into our 12-Step curriculum. Trauma therapy helps clients identify, process, and then better cope with trauma. Meanwhile, the 12-Steps wok provides a framework to apply this understanding to the development of a daily design for living going forward.