Importance of Trauma-Informed Care in Addiction Treatment

Trauma can greatly reduce quality of life. However, trauma informed care can be beneficial to emotional healing. Learn more here.

Importance of Trauma-Informed Care in Addiction Treatment

Mental disorders and addiction can often be the result of trauma that has occurred at some point in a person’s life. trauma-informed care in addiction treatment emphasizes the role that trauma can play in a number of indirectly related issues. This article will explain how trauma-informed care can be beneficial to emotional healing.

Trauma Informed Care


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What is Trauma-Informed Care?

trauma-informed practice is an approach to mental health treatment based acknowledging the broad and expansive impact that exposure to trauma can have on a person’s mental health, even when the on

What is Trauma?

In psychological contexts, trauma is a specific kind of emotional reaction wherein a person experiences something deeply upsetting, disturbing, or distressing. Trauma is broadly categorized into three types – acute, chronic, and complex.1

What Causes Trauma?

There are many types of events that can cause trauma. Trauma can include:

  • A serious accident
  • Sexual, physical, or mental abuse
  • Neglect
  • Witnessing or being involved in a violent action
  • War

A person will be more likely to develop trauma if they have or are susceptible to other types of mental illness like anxiety and depression. 

Connection Between Trauma and Addiction

Trauma and addiction have strong correlations with each other and it is common for individuals to report turning to substances as a way to manage symptoms of trauma when better resources – such as healthcare or stable housing – were unavailable. Substance addictions can result in additional trauma, due to increased vulnerability.

What are the Principles of Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-informed therapy is based on the following trauma-informed care principles:


Providers of trauma-informed treatment must be committed to providing patients with an emotionally and physically safe environment.

Trustworthiness and Transparency

All decisions in trauma-informed therapy and treatment are made transparently with the goal of building and maintaining trust among patients and their families.

Peer Support

Peer support is fundamental in building patients’ senses of trust, empowerment, and safety – along with providing important social ties crucial to substance use treatment.


Trauma-informed care requires that the individuals in treatment, for whom choices are being made, are allowed a voice in choosing the decisions that are made with regard to their care.


Providers of trauma-informed aims to empower the patient and by building a strategy based on what they have to offer.

Humility or Responsiveness

Humility involves critical self-reflection and mutual learning on the part of the provider, to acknowledge the patient as the subject-matter expert on their lived experiences and center their knowledge in discussions of patient needs and support.

Trauma-Informed Practice as a Concept

The trauma-informed practice involves the following concepts:

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Trauma-informed therapy recognizes that negative childhood experiences can have adverse effects on mental health, and that their effects can be long-lasting.2

A Healing Centered Approach

A healing centered approach is often taken in trauma-informed interventions. It involves holistic living, spirituality, collective healing, and civic action. This type of approach may differ from approaches which focus exclusively on substance use, or strict mental illness treatment, which neglects to address the types of unhealed wounds – physical or mental – which may be contributing to a person’s illness.

Not Everyone with Trauma is Symptomatic in the Long-Term:

Trauma-informed care strategies are designed with the belief that trauma can be fully healed. Experts in the field believe it is possible to experience total remission from the disorder and for all symptoms of trauma to be able to be addressed through different types of cognitive treatments and therapies.

What are Some Common Traumatic Experiences?

Traumatic experiences which require trauma treatment can include the following:


It is incredibly difficult to lose something or someone close to us – from a beloved pet to a favorite pen to a cherished person, grief comes in many forms, and its effects are sometimes unpredictable.

Accidents or Crime

Witnessing or being involved in a serious crime or accident can lead to trauma. The feelings of helplessness that can arise in those kinds of situations can, effectively, “lock” the brain into feeling as though it is in a constant state of being unsafe.3

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a common source of trauma which can have effects well outside of a person’s intimate life. Most often caused by those who are closest to individuals, it frequently results in symptoms which manifest in the form of difficulties forming and maintaining social relationships.

Childhood Abuse

Traumas experienced in childhood require particularly specialized treatment, as prolonged exposure to toxic stress can result in abnormal formations which can persist throughout a person’s life, and remain unchanged if left untreated.

Natural Disasters

Unpredictability, feelings of chaos, and a sense that a person has lost all control over a situation, are all sensations associated with the experience of trauma, and typically accompany many kinds of natural disasters.

Military Combat

Individuals that have been involved in wars are frequently discussed in conversations surrounding trauma – and for good reason. Violence, and military combat in particular, can create trauma in individuals.

Trauma and Long-Term Health Issues

The human body has adapted to numerous conditions by allowing us to have near-instantaneous access to fight-or-flight systems. Within less than a second, we can run faster, hold our breath longer, and use strength we never knew we had, all as the result of a few chemical reactions in the body. But the fight-or-flight system was only meant to remain activated for short bursts of time – just enough to get us out of danger and then resting and recovering. Prolonged exposure can result in, “toxic stress” and lead to a whole host of issues, including:

Chronic Lung Disease

A 2020 studied showed that people who experienced trauma as a child are more likely to develop chronic lung disease.4

Chronic Heart Disease

Children who experienced adverse traumatic environments are 50% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease as opposed to those with low trauma exposure.5

Liver Cancer and Liver Disease

A 2022 study showed that people with traumatic liver injuries are more likely to develop liver cancer.6

Viral Hepatitis

Advocate Health states that people that experienced trauma as children are 240% more likely to develop hepatitis C as adults.

Autoimmune Disease

Childhood traumatic stress has been shown to increase the likelihood of hospitalization in people diagnosed with an autoimmune condition.7

Depression and Other Mental Health Issues

Trauma often co-occurs alongside (or causes) anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Substance Abuse Issues

Trauma may drive some to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

What are the Benefits of Providing Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-informed care strategies are beneficial because they provide treatment in a manner which is safe and accessible to patients with a history of trauma.

By addressing the root of many addictions and mental health disorders, they allow addiction treatment to move beyond surface level issues of willpower, self-control, and individual weakness. They bring the patient into the decision-making process providing them with a sense of empowerment.

Trauma-Informed Systems

Trauma-informed systems are especially beneficial to people with addiction whose substance use originates out of a legitimate need to have trauma symptoms adequately addressed and treated. They consider that trauma may be the cause of addiction and not just an unfortunate, yet unrelated, coincidence.

Trauma-informed care provides a safer environment, more transparency, and deeper peer support to promote healing. When trauma has been adequately addressed, there is no limit to the improvements that can be made to further “downstream” effects which arose out of the effects of untreated, unaddressed, or unacknowledged trauma.

Trauma-Informed Care Treatment at Concise Recovery

Trauma Treatment

There are many facilities that offer a trauma-informed approach, but the following strategies utilized at Concise Recovery set us apart from other treatment facilities:

Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT)

At Concise Recovery, we believe in the power of using all evidence-backed tools at our disposal, including medications for treatment of anxiety, depression, withdrawal symptoms, and other mental health challenges.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients identify negative thought processes and bring about change to induce healthier behaviors.

Holistic Wellness Programs

Our Holistic wellness programs bring practices like meditation, yoga, and nutrition into the healing process, for a streamlined approach to wellness in both the mind and body.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing)

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is a thoroughly-researched technique used in individual therapy, which allows patients to access new parts of the brain while recalling past traumas through the use of eye movements and tactile stimulation.

Residential Treatment Programs

At Concise Recovery, our residential treatment program will allow you the care, safety, and support you need in order to recover from your substance use disorder, while addressing trauma with professional guidance.

Getting in Touch

If you’re in need of trauma-informed interventions or any other type of substance abuse related care, do not hesitate to reach out to concise recovery. We offer customized care and want nothing more than to help you achieve a higher quality of life. Contact us to find out more.