People may abuse drugs to numb overwhelming emotions that result from traumatic events and deep psychological wounds. Learn to address these emotions in healthier ways to avoid drug abuse.
How Substance Abuse Progresses Into Addiction
The allure of substance abuse to emotionally troubled people is understandable, as substance abuse can temporarily relieve negative emotions. However, this relief is short lived and artificial; in fact, once the substance wears off, users often find themselves in worse emotional states than before. Unfortunately, rather than these problems driving users to stop abusing drugs, the unpleasant states can drive people to seek drugs with even more fervor. Without any form of intervention, this cycle eventually results in addiction.
Relationship Between Emotional Trauma and Addiction
According to David Sack, since the 1970s treatment professionals have seen how emotional trauma can affect addiction, but the concept of treating addiction and trauma together is making a resurgence. Sack describes a recent study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research that reveals an alarming fact: the rates of physical, emotional and sexual abuse are far higher among people treating alcoholism than for the general population. This research suggests that people often abuse drugs to cope with difficult emotions related to trauma, and having the research to support clinicians helps them establish more effective treatment methods.
Hope for Addiction Recovery and Emotional Health
Although the cycle of addiction may seem hopeless, there is always hope for a successful recovery. People who suffer from addiction to cope with negative emotions can get sober with quality treatment, but this treatment must focus particularly on the patient’s emotional struggles. With a treatment program that offers mental health care alongside addiction help, patients can develop emotional health in addition to sobriety.
Integrated treatment focuses on healing patients’ mental health and addiction symptoms. If the symptoms of trauma perpetuate substance abuse, then they must be treated both for the patients’ sense of wellbeing and to prevent relapse. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, people who have mental health issues in addition to substance abuse experience better outcomes in integrated treatment.
Techniques for Controlling Emotions
When someone stops using drugs, he may be surprised by the intensity of emotions he experiences. For someone who used drugs to numb his feelings, the transition to sobriety might be overwhelming at first, especially emotionally, which is why it’s important to go through rehab than trying to quit without help. Under professional care, patients have around the clock support to address difficult emotions. Listed below are several methods that people in rehab can use to manage emotions:
- Accept difficult emotions. People who fight the way they feel or wonder why they have difficult feelings can actually worsen these negative emotions. On the other hand, by practicing acceptance with overwhelming or frightening emotions, individuals can process and eventually overcome their troubles. Emotions are a natural part of life, especially for people in addiction recovery, so there is no need to be ashamed or to suppress strong feelings.
- Talk to a counselor. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, counselors and support group sessions are cornerstones of addiction treatment for people with mental health issues, such as emotional trauma. A therapist can gently guide someone toward healthy coping skills.
- Focus on working through the underlying issue. The key to recovery is committing to resolving the issue that led to the addiction. In many cases, the underlying issue is in no way the fault of the patient, and realizing this fact is liberating, especially if the addiction formed as a result of abuse.
- Learn what triggers cause emotional responses. Knowledge is power, so know what triggers certain feelings to regain a sense of control. One way to discover triggers is by keeping a journal—write down how you feel in certain situations, then review the journal later to see what exactly it was about a particular situation that affected you.
These ideas are only a few methods to manage emotions healthily. Of course, the best way to learn how to manage your emotions without drugs behind is by seeking professional help. With the right help, recovery is always possibile.
Find a Quality Rehab Center
If you or someone you love suffers from drug addiction, you can always reach out for help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline anytime of the day or night to learn more about your treatment options. Our admissions coordinators can help you or your loved one get on the path to recovery.