NEW PERSPECTIVES TO TREAT ADDICTION
As one of the core therapies utilized in the process of healing trauma and other painful experiences, psychodrama is a vital modality to the program offerings at Safe Harbor. The technique of psychodrama is utilized in a group setting. In addition to participating in their own process, psychodrama offers clients the opportunity to be an integral part of supporting others in their healing process. Exchanges take place that allow an individual to see a new perspective on a situation. Obstacles to recovery are identified. Clients are able to release much of the energy and pain they hold in connection to trauma or other painful memories. In doing so, individuals begin to experience healing and understanding. Shame begins to transform into self-acceptance.
By offering support to their peers during the therapeutic process clients will begin to feel necessary to the whole. They will re-learn empathy and develop deep meaningful relationships based on trust and honesty. Sociometry, role-playing and props are common in the psychodrama setting.
TREATING PTSD & ADDICTION WITH TRAUMATIC INCIDENT REDUCTION
It’s estimated that around 70 percent of Americans have experienced a trauma in their lifetime, and this can significantly reduce quality of life. Trauma Incident Reduction is an effective therapy for treating the effects of trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which often results from trauma and frequently co-occurs with addiction.
Trauma occurs when someone experiences or witnesses a terrifying or terrible event, such as violence, sexual assault, combat or a natural disaster. Adulthood trauma and childhood trauma-such as emotional or sexual abuse, neglect or living with violence in the household- have far-reaching consequences. Experiencing a trauma can affect brain function and behavior.
How Trauma Affects the Brain: PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder that causes a range of symptoms that make it difficult to function in healthy, normal ways. These symptoms dramatically interfere with quality of life and feelings of well-being, and they often lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
More than 13 million Americans have PTSD at any given time. Symptoms of PTSD typically begin within three months of a traumatic event, although they may occur immediately afterwards or months or even years later. Symptoms of PTSD fall into four categories.
AROUSAL AND REACTIVITY SYMPTOMS IN PTSD
Re-experiencing symptoms interfere with everyday functioning. They can be triggered by a thought, emotion or situation. Symptoms associated with re-experiencing include:
- Being startled or frightened easily
- Having near-constant feelings of impending doom or chronic stress
- Sleeping difficulties, including insomnia, frequent waking or difficulty waking up
- Feelings of intense anger or sudden angry outbursts
COGNITION AND MOOD SYMPTOMS IN PTSD
The symptoms associated with PTSD that are related to mood and cognition often leave people feeling detached and isolated from others, and they can be deeply unsettling. These symptoms include:
- A loss of memory about key events of the trauma
- Deeply negative thoughts about yourself or the world
- Feelings of shame, guilt or blame
- Losing interest in activities previously enjoyed
RE-EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS IN PTSD
Arousal and reactivity symptoms of PTSD are constant and not necessarily triggered by reminders of the traumatic event. However, they make it difficult for people with PTSD to function normally, interfering with the ability to concentrate, sleep, eat or perform normal daily activities. Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:
- Flashbacks, which involves re-living the traumatic event in a very real way that can cause an increase in heart rate or profuse sweating
- Nightmares, which may occur nightly and affect the ability or desire to sleep
- Persistent frightening thoughts that are difficult to stop
AVOIDANCE SYMPTOMS IN PTSD
Avoidance symptoms interfere with daily routines and involve avoiding the places, people, events or objects that serve as reminders of the trauma. Avoidance symptoms also include suppressing or avoiding thoughts or emotions related to the traumatic event.
Trauma, PTSD and Addiction Among Children, Women, Men and Veterans
Traumatic Incident Reduction and How it Helps
Traumatic Incident Reduction, or TIR, is a therapy used to reduce the negative effects of a past trauma on your life. It’s especially helpful for people who have a specific trauma that has affected their life, even if a formal PTSD diagnosis has not been made. It’s effective for people who find themselves reacting inappropriately to certain situations or experiencing negative emotions and who believe a past trauma may be responsible.
According to the Traumatic Incident Reduction Association, when it’s correctly applied, Traumatic Incident Reduction results in the complete and permanent elimination of PTSD symptoms. Typically, TIR clients also gain valuable personal insights, often spontaneously, that help transform their lives.
HOW TIR WORKS
Traumatic Incident Reduction therapy can be regarded as a type of exposure technique. Its goal is to help clients become more aware of a traumatic event in order to desensitize them, leading the client to dis-identify with the thoughts, emotions and other inner experiences resulting from the trauma. The client begins to see the trauma and inner experiences as separate from the self. This can occur with just one session, or it can take five or more sessions, depending on the severity of the trauma and how many traumas are being addressed.
A Traumatic Incident Reduction therapy session typically lasts between one and two hours. During TIR, the client is made to feel safe and secure in the session, which starts with an assessment to determine what the ideal outcome will be. Then, while the therapist listens without distractions, interjections or judgments, the client re-tells and re-experiences the trauma to completion, then does it again, and again. During the re-telling, clients examine how their emotions and behaviors interact and how the trauma has affected them and the people in their lives.
With each re-telling, repressed memories may arise, and details may emerge that were suppressed. In the process, the client releases painful emotions and negative thought patterns and releases resistance to re-experiencing it. The “end point” of Traumatic Incident Reduction occurs when clients feel their attention become unattached to the trauma and the trauma loses its ability to negatively affect them. They typically experience one or more important insights or realizations that can be further explored in another session.
Traumatic Incident Reduction helps people eliminate self-harm behaviors, develop healthy, trusting relationships, gain control over their symptoms and achieve a high level of self-care.
The Effectiveness of Traumatic Incident Reduction
A comprehensive study of TIR conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama and Florida State University found that it:
- Significantly reduced depression immediately afterwards, which was maintained at the three-month follow-up
- Significantly reduced feelings of anxiety, which was also maintained at the three-month follow-up
- Reduced symptoms of PTSD, including intrusive thoughts, anxiety, avoidance and hyper-arousal
During Traumatic Incident Reduction in an addiction treatment setting, individuals uncover the events and emotions that have led to the substance abuse and addiction. Improved symptoms of PTSD helps remove the need to self-medicate these symptoms with drugs or alcohol.
When used along with traditional therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy, Traumatic Incident Reduction therapy can help people make meaningful connections between their thoughts and behaviors and improve their emotional health. TIR can help people become self-reliant and improve their life’s quality and balance for a happier, healthier and more productive life.