Addiction | Trauma | Recovery – guest author by Rivka Edery, L.M.S.W., explains what it takes to help a trauma survivor.
If this individual is also an addict | alcoholic, it is especially important to understand this because trauma causes brain changes that can contribute to the person developing an addiction in the first place. Without healing the trauma, it will be difficult to treat the addiction and succeed in long-term recovery. This is commonly known as having co-occurring disorders. These two links explain this concept NIDA: Addiction and Co-Occurring Mental Disorders in more detail: The Addiction Project: Co-Occurring Disorders and NIDA: Addiction and Co-Occurring Mental Disorders.
Rivka Edery has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Science and a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. She is a highly intuitive and sensitive licensed social worker and a first time author specializing in trauma recovery and spirituality. She has been active in the treatment and recovery field for more than sixteen years. Since 2009, she has been working as a clinical social worker assisting clients who are recovering from trauma-related disorders. As her career was advancing, Rivka wondered if the ancient spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous can be applied to the healing of trauma. The result is a unique approach for trauma survivors who are seeking a combined spiritual and clinical approach to their personal effects of surviving trauma. She has written a book on this subject, Trauma And Transformation: A 12-Step Guide. To learn more about Rivka and her work, please visit her website: RivkaEdery.com
The Transformation Factor: Addiction, Trauma and Recovery by Rivka Edery, L.M.S.W.
The consequences of surviving trauma are complex, making it difficult to formulate a recovery and treatment plan. The most common defense mechanism, and the toughest one to work through, is denial. Throughout human history, lack of knowledge and non-acceptance of the perpetrators misdeeds has placed the suffering of survivors behind an armored wall, perpetuating traumatic effects. No recovery can occur behind this wall of forced silence, ignorance and lack of helpful resources. Over the last two decades, research has revealed the frequency of traumatic events, and their injurious effects on a survivor’s psyche. Mental health professional have come to understand the connections between unresolved trauma and serious psychological problems.
The survivor’s decision to begin a process of healing begins with the admission of what happened to them. This involves working through the defenses employed to shun from consciousness the excruciatingly painful memories of the traumatic events. Having passed through this phase of remembering (in any way possible), the acceptance of the truth of the traumatic experience moves the survivor towards resolution. Thus begins the creation of an internal, healing space for the survivor to feel what remained frozen in time, banished and unwelcome in consciousness. By going through the felt experience, the survivor can let go and access healing. The way is open to be in charge and responsible, embracing difficulties as well as personal assets and gifts.
Over the course of each survivor’s life, there will be people who will criticize any efforts to acknowledge and heal from traumatic experiences. Such nay-sayers accuse survivors of using their histories to live in the past, or to make excuses for personal problems. This criticism comes from those who have limited empathy, or may be in denial about their own mistreatment. Qualified trauma specialists know that the stress from repression manifests itself in serious life difficulties. The perpetrators themselves will often intimidate their victims in an attempt to enforce silence. Although the absolute recall of traumatic events is not possible, the overwhelming consequences and burden on the untreated survivor deserves attention.