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Treating Childhood Trauma and Substance Abuse

After decades of combined experience in the substance abuse treatment field, our team began to recognize that many of the individuals in our care had experienced trauma at some point in their lives. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than two out of every three adolescents have reported experiencing at least one traumatic event by the time they turned 16.  
Childhood Trauma and Substance Abuse Treatment

When an adolescent experiences a traumatic event and does not receive the proper treatment, they become at risk of developing a variety of mental health and behavioral problems, including substance use disorders. It is not uncommon for individuals suffering from a past trauma to begin abusing drugs or alcohol at a young age, which is why it is imperative that they receive professional help as early as possible. 

At Teen Treatment Center, our staff has experience treating teenagers who have turned to substance abuse after experiencing a traumatic event in their lives. With evidence-based treatments, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), we can help your teen begin to work through the underlying issues causing their substance abuse. At our accredited facility, they will have the opportunity to develop healthy coping mechanisms and get back on the right track for a successful future. 

From the moment you call, our supportive team will guide your family from the admissions process all the way through treatment. Contact us today at (844) 319-5239. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Understanding Childhood Trauma

When discussing childhood trauma, people often think of physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. While these types of events are extremely traumatic for a child, they do not cover the full spectrum. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “A traumatic event is one that threatens injury, death, or the physical integrity of self or others and also causes horror, terror or helplessness at the time it occurs.” For a child, a traumatic event could be something they experience first-hand or witness. This includes but is not limited to: 

  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Acts of violence 
  • Bullying or cyberbullying
  • Natural disasters 
  • Manmade disasters 
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Death of a loved one

Recognizing a teenager is struggling with a past trauma can be difficult if you are unaware of its occurrence in the first place. If your child has gone through an experience that has caused them to turn to substance abuse, it’s time to find them professional help. 

Treating Childhood Trauma and Substance Abuse

The Importance of Treating Trauma and Substance Abuse Simultaneously

When dealing with trauma victims, it’s imperative to understand that the earlier they receive treatment, the better. If an adolescent is not treated, they are at risk for: 

  • Problems at school including a drop in grades and increased behavior issues
  • Long-term health problems (e.g., diabetes and heart disease)
  • Behavioral health and substance use disorders
  • And more

In addition, individuals who aren’t treated properly are at high risk for re-traumatization, which will cause the symptoms of trauma to worsen and compile on top of each other. The longer it takes for an individual to be treated, the longer it takes for treatment to be effective. 

When an unresolved trauma exists, it can make it difficult or even impossible for substance abuse treatment alone to be effective. When teens spend most of their time struggling with the reactions to their trauma, they aren’t able to benefit from the rest of their treatment; however, when a teenager’s trauma is addressed, teenagers have the best chance at a lasting recovery. If your child is struggling with substance abuse due to a past trauma, it is imperative that you seek a treatment facility that is prepared to treat the trauma along with the substance abuse.

Teenagers who enter our care are assessed during the admission process in order to provide them with a treatment plan catered to their individual background, circumstances and needs. If a teenager has experienced a past trauma, they will also be screened to determine whether or not beginning EMDR therapy while in our care is appropriate. This screening process allows our team to ensure the treatment that begins at our facility will not only be effective, but that the teenager is likely to have continued success once they leave our care.

If appropriate, teenagers who have experienced a past trauma will have EMDR therapy as part of their treatment plan with one of our trained and licensed therapists. 

What is EMDR?

EMDR a psychotherapy that helps individuals heal from the emotional distress caused by a prior traumatic experience. During EMDR therapy, the main goal is to desensitize the memory where the trauma occurred. Although that specific memory will never go away, EMDR helps the individual to alleviate the negative feelings and actions that go along with it. 

Oftentimes, when an individual has experienced trauma, similar experiences later in life will become linked to the original event; this is called a maladaptive schema. When this occurs, it reinforces the original trauma and resurrects the negative feelings associated with the event, such as not feeling worthy, low self-esteem, distrust, etc. 

During EMDR, a trained therapist will help the individual move past the memory and eliminate the negative feelings attached to it by shifting their thoughts to positive ones. The goal is that after each session, the troubling memories will become less and less disabling, to the point that they will eventually no longer have control over the individual’s feelings and actions. 

Evidence-based Treatments and Services

At our accredited facility, teenagers receive around-the-clock care from our dedicated staff members. Our treatment team is comprised of board-certified doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, therapists and more. Together, they have decades of experience in the substance abuse treatment field and are dedicated to restoring your child and family.

When treating teenagers who are dealing with substance abuse along with a co-occurring condition such as trauma, it is imperative that they receive a treatment plan that utilizes and integrative therapeutic approach. At Teen Treatment Center, we provide the following therapies and services: 

If your child begins EMDR therapy while in our care, it will also be part of their aftercare plan. Treating trauma is a process that takes time and cannot be completed in the span of only a few months. The more serious the trauma is, the longer it will take for the individual to fully heal and recover.

It’s Time to Restore Your Family

You and your child are not alone in this struggle. Countless families have reached out to us and had their hope restored. Our admissions counselors are available 24/7, including holidays to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the admissions process. 

Contact us today at (844) 319-5239 or by starting a chat online. All consultations are free and confidential.

Teen Treatment Center has been awarded
the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval.