Trauma is a significant contributor to substance abuse disorders, and it can prevent affected individuals from advancing with their addiction recovery. EMDR can be very effective with that. Most treatment facilities do not offer substance abuse counselling that is trauma-specific. When selecting a rehabilitation facility, patients with trauma suffering from a substance abuse disorder should make sure the facility provides EMDR therapy or any other trauma-specific treatment. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR is suitable for addiction recovery because most substance abuse disorders stem from past trauma. The understanding is that treating this past trauma will help the affected individual become less likely to turn to substances in stressful times.
EMDR therapy includes eight treatment phases. Phase 1 comprises identifying the patient’s emotional distress. Phase 2 provides stress reduction approaches and imagery; phase 3 to 6 involves the patient identifying vivid images, negative self-beliefs and correlated emotions. In phases 7 and 8 of EMDR, the patient employs self-calming techniques, and the clinician evaluates the patient’s progress.
Therapists who use EMDR therapy go about the patient’s addiction to address the trauma behind it. It helps them assess each person by looking at the contributing factors and the underlying causes of the addiction. This is why EMDR can play such a significant role in the treatment of substance abuse and addiction. Most people suffering from substance abuse disorders have also been diagnosed with PTSD or have had traumatic childhood experiences. This makes EMDR therapy a logical potential treatment option to help patients reduce the likelihood of relapse during rehabilitation. EMDR helps people with PTSD and substance abuse problems reprocess their memories, beat negative emotions and go back to their lives without any anxiety or fear.
EMDR for The Treatment of Addiction Memory
More people are developing addictions due to chronic pain from a physical injury that calls for them to take opioid pain medication as opposed to seeking out addictive substances due to a traumatic experience. Even though EMDR might not be beneficial in treating individuals who have become addicted to opioid pain medication, it can still be helpful if they are dealing with an addiction memory.
An addiction memory is a specific memory of the addicting drug’s effects, leading to repeated drug-intake behavior. An addiction memory can also prevent the individual from recovering. EMDR diminishes the intense feelings caused by past trauma as well as those associated with addiction memories. Research indicates that including EMDR treatment in the rehabilitation process can increase recovery for people suffering from substance abuse disorders.
Treating PTSD and Addiction with EMDR
If a patient is suffering from a substance abuse disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it is best and more efficient to treat both conditions simultaneously. Both are severe conditions, and research shows they are also interconnected. Evidence also indicates that EMDR therapy can help to treat PTSD and addiction. People who have experienced a traumatic occurrence usually have distressing memories, flashbacks, or nightmares. PTSD is a severe condition that occurs to individuals when they experience or witness life-threatening events like war, a violent assault, a serious accident, or the death of a loved one. When one undergoes trauma, it causes a change in their brain chemistry the same way substance abuse does. Hence, PTSD can set off a substance abuse disorder, and both conditions are codependent on each other. After experiencing a traumatic event, the brain generates fewer endorphins (feel-good chemicals), so the individual may seek alcohol or drugs to improve their mood by artificially increasing endorphin levels. With time, affected individuals might turn to harmful substances to ease depression, anxiety, and irritability. When one develops a substance abuse disorder, then it is deemed co-occurring to their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is advisable to take up comprehensive PTSD treatment alongside substance abuse treatment, and EMDR therapy is an effective way to go about it.
EMDR therapy is used frequently with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in most addiction treatment plans, and it has been used by various private and public treatment programs. It is an effective combination that both the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the American Psychiatric Association have endorsed.
EMDR can be utilized to deal with addiction-related trauma and other kinds of trauma. When a patient goes to rehabilitation for substance abuse, they will get the chance to work with trained therapists who know how to approach various situations and address trauma as needed. This gives the individual an excellent opportunity for treating the psychological and physical symptoms that come with PTSD and trauma while improving their self-esteem and preventing relapse.
EMDR is very effective based on evidence and research. Many clients are usually more comfortable taking EMDR therapy than prolonged exposure therapy because there is no need to share everything about your situation with EMDR. You can go through the details of your story mentally, but you do not always need to share them. However, sharing your feelings, reactions, and the images coming up in your mind is sufficient for the EMDR therapeutic process. EMDR therapy goes at the client’s pace while allowing them to maintain some form of control without being too intimidating.
If someone suffering from a substance abuse disorder does not necessarily have a traumatic event in their past, they almost unavoidably have had traumatic occurrences due to their substance abuse. It is crucial to validate and honor this trauma for the affected individuals as it can help to establish safety and trust. EMDR therapy is an excellent method of concentrating on the underlying problems that cause addiction while providing the best tools to address these issues.