At Discovery Point Retreat, trauma therapy isn’t just part of our offerings. It’s the very heart of the way we treat addiction.
Addiction and trauma go hand in hand. At Discovery Point Retreat, we work under a trauma-informed care model, which assumes that everyone we come into contact with has had some sort of traumatic event happen in their life.
It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario: Which came first, the trauma or the substance abuse? Trauma may not have been a specific event; it can be a dysfunctional family dynamic or relationship building over time that cause pain. These can fuel addiction and a need to find relief.
When a client comes in for drug rehab or alcohol rehab and presents with a trauma history, they often hold negative beliefs about themselves based on the trauma — shame, guilt, resentment. They often manifest physical symptoms as well, including increased anxiety, depression, emotional patterns like unstable relationships. We begin by identifying those symptoms, and use EMDR to help reprocess those memories and traumatic invents. When we reprocess them appropriately, they no longer experience the same degree of physical symptoms.
“EMDR” stands for eye movement desensitization reprocessing. When there’s a traumatic event or situation— whether it’s physical abuse, sexual abuse, a natural disaster, anything than can be considered traumatic — your body releases an influx of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. When they flood the brain, these hormones effectively shut off the parts of the brain that are responsible for reprocessing the traumatic events.
When we go to sleep, our body goes through different stages including REM sleep — rapid eye movement. During this dreaming sleep, your eyes dart back and forth, which in turn triggers the part of your brain responsible for reprocessing the memories of that day.
When you go through a traumatic event, that part of the brain is shut off due to the trauma chemicals — so it stops your brain from having the ability to process the event appropriately. When that happens, the brain goes into a fight or flight response, becoming skittish like a deer. That’s the natural trauma response, and is the source of PTSD and anxiety from traumatic events. The goal of EMDR is to utilize a set of eye movements to stimulate the part of the brain that can help you reprocess these memories appropriately.
EMDR is a very specific modality. If you are engaging in EMDR, that will take up your full therapy hour, and it will likely require multiple therapy sessions. It’s an intense therapy and is emotionally charged because we’re dealing with difficult topics.
A lot of us have these traumatic events that happen to us, and they impact the way that we feel, the way we go about our relationships, the way we go about our daily lives. Being able to reprocess these events and emotions gives us greater relief. Anyone who is struggling with trauma and substance abuse can benefit greatly from EMDR. There is light at the end of that tunnel — especially being able to feel physical relief from the symptoms of trauma.