Trauma and PTSD
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron. - Psalm 107:13-16
Life is about the journey, not just the destination. The trials and tribulations we face as we move forward, for better or for worse, can be highly influential, leaving physical as well as emotional marks on our bodies and our minds. For some people, the road through life is uphill and challenging, placing extreme pressure on even commonplace events, like work, relationships, and faith. As a Christian, prayer and worship are often at the center of fighting through life's struggles, but when serious trauma or PTSD is standing in the way of a healthy life, the word of the Lord may not be enough.
Without proper treatment, prolonged responses to pain and distress can lead to severe mental and behavioral problems, including an addiction to drugs or alcohol, but Road to Freedom can help. As a Christian rehabilitation center, it is our goal to guide you through emotional issues, strengthen your relationship with Christ, and ensure you live a happier, healthier life without the presence of addiction. Please contact us today at (844) 402-3605.
What Is Trauma?
Trauma refers to emotional responses in reaction to painful or troubling events, like rape, abuse, physical injury, or natural disaster. The experiences that can result in trauma are vast and varying, and are defined by the American Psychological Association as any event that threatens life, wellness, or physical integrity. Traumatic events often defy traditional coping methods, creating long-lasting distress that cannot be addressed alone. Immediately following trauma, most individuals experience a wide range of negative emotions that include:
- Fear and terror
- Stress and anxiety
- Confusion and frustration
- Helplessness and powerlessness
In general, these symptoms fade in time, although remnants may linger for years or even decades and can be triggered by events that recall painful situations, like seeing an abuser. Sometimes, however, these painful emotions persist, leading to a condition known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. PTSD has no cure and can last for a lifetime without proper treatment.
In adults, trauma is generally suffered first-hand, although can occur as a bystander in serious situations, like as a soldier in a war zone. In children, trauma can be equally severe when experienced, like sexual molestation, or witnessed, like physical abuse to a parent by another trusted adult.
The effects of childhood trauma are extremely influential and numerous studies have demonstrated the strong connection between trauma early in life and challenges throughout adulthood. In general, children have far less life experience and lack contextual inferences that can make processing, rationalizing, and understanding traumatic experiences much harder. As such, even events that may be little more than troubling to adults can be emotionally crippling to children.
Children who experience five or more adverse events in the first three years of life are 76% more likely to face delays in emotional, linguistic, and brain development. Further,14.5% of children who experience serious trauma develop PTSD. Traumatic events in childhood also cause increases in risk of depression, addiction, suicide attempts, STDs, stress, and anger management problems. In fact, rates increase remarkably, including:
- 15 times more likely to attempt suicide
- 4 times more likely to become an alcoholic
- 4 times more likely to inject drugs
- 3 times more likely to use antidepressant medication
- 3 times more likely to experience depression
Causes of Trauma
Trauma can be caused in many varying ways. Reactions are not necessarily normal and predictable; some people will react strongly to events that will not affect others. This can make identifying and addressing trauma very challenges. Common circumstances include but are certainly not limited to:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Acts of violence
- Natural disasters
- Manmade disasters
- Family challenges
- Harm to a loved one
- Death of a loved one
Abuse and troubles in the family dynamic are most common; approximately 60% of adults report experiencing these kinds of events in childhood. Further, 26% of children in the U.S. will witness a traumatic event before turning four, while 40% of children say they experienced a physical assault in the past year. Tragically, more than 60% of children have been or will be exposed to crime, violence, or abuse, whether indirectly or directly.
Signs of PTSD
PTSD is a severe response to trauma but is unfortunately prevalent. In the United States, 70% of adults experience some sort of trauma in life, and 20% of these go on to develop PTSD. Identifying the difference between a reaction to trauma and true PTSD generally involves four main symptoms:
- Relieving a traumatic event, including nightmares, flashbacks, and memories caused by triggers
- Avoiding situations that are reminiscent of a traumatic event
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
- Intense responses, or hyperarousal, that lead to challenges with sleep or concentration
These symptoms may not be visible in others, however. If you suspect a loved one is suffering from PTSD, it is important to look for signs after a traumatic event like:
- Irritable or aggressive behavior
- Self-destructive behavior
- Exaggerated startle response
- Problems with concentration and focus
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Why Treatment Matters
Treatment for traumatic events is highly important, even if the necessity isn't immediately evident. Initially, PTSD is unpleasant and inconvenient, but over time, the side effects of dealing with trauma can be debilitating. As symptoms spiral out of control, those suffering may be unable to sustain relationships, hold a job, finish school, or maintain healthy lifestyle habits. PTSD often comes with side effects like trouble sleeping and the inability to handle normal situations, like crowds or driving, making it hard to feel like a productive part of society.
Additionally, PTSD can lead to other problematic or destructive behaviors, like drug abuse, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, or even suicide attempts.
Due to the side effects of trauma and PTSD, co-occurring disorders are extremely common. Substance abuse is among the most frequent, with over 20% of veterans with PTSD also suffering from substance abuse disorders. Further, anywhere from 25% to 75% of those who experience abuse or violent trauma will develop a pattern of alcohol abuse. In fact, a study that surveyed traumatized populations found that 39% used alcohol, 34% used cocaine, 6% used heroin or opiates, and 45% used marijuana.
As a Christian, this combination can be particularly challenging. Coming to terms with a traumatic event and trying to reconcile belief in God's will with bad experiences can be a faith-shaking event in itself, but adding the sin of substance abuse can be too much to bear. In these populations, seeking help that can address both religion and mental health is paramount.
Treatments for PTSD
PTSD treatments, like substance abuse treatments, often seek to target root causes in order to reconcile emotional responses. In an effort to accomplish this, mental health practitioners generally favor a process known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EDMR. A psychotherapeutic approach designed specifically to treat trauma, this option emphasizes adaptive information processing in order to diminish effects of a traumatic situation.
Serving as an eight-phase treatment plan, EDMR helps patients to reprocess traumatic information until it no longer causes psychological pain. As the name implies, therapists lead patients in a series of lateral eye movements while simultaneously assisting patients to focus on aspects of a disturbing memory. This effectively desensitizes patients and relieves mental blocks in order to alleviate the burden of distress.
For Christians, prayer and worship can also be utilized as a complement to mental health treatments. By putting continued focus on worship, prayer, and Bible study, patients can work to strengthen relationships with Christ while overcoming the affects of trauma.
Christ-Centered Care from Road to Freedom
Your faith is important to you. At Road to Freedom, we develop our treatment paths with this in mind, offering a supportive environment that blends Christian worship practices with proven medical treatments. Through our unique practices, we are able to help you grow from the inside out, addressing the root issues of substance abuse while helping to lift you up to the Lord. We want to ensure you recover at all levels, not just on the surface, offering the resources necessary to evaluate and revitalize your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
If trauma plays a significant role in your struggles with addiction, we are able to combine treatments like EDMR with detox and rehabilitation strategies. This helps to address both causes of substance abuse and response to trauma in order to treat both motivations and symptoms. Through it all, we will continue to support your faith, offering access to therapy groups, Bible study, and church services to keep you firmly focused on God's message.
We know that the recovery is a personal journey, and that no two patients need exactly the same care. As a result, our programs are comprehensive, offering access to extensive resources that include:
- Safe, medically-supervised drug and alcohol detoxification
- Pastoral counseling
- Group addiction counseling
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Adolescent program
- Biblically-based 12 Step meetings
- Family workshops:
- Court Liaison Program
- Chronic pain management
- Holistic therapies
- Relapse prevention
- Inpatient Treatment
- Outpatient treatment
- Aftercare services
Seeking Supportive Care
Suffering through the effects of trauma isn't easy, but Road to Freedom is here. As a Christian dedicated to healing both body and spirit, we can help you work through the complicated emotions that drive substance abuse. Please contact us today at (844) 402-3605 for a free, confidential consultation.