As the field of addiction treatment evolves and expands, the idea of being trauma informed lends to the idea that as the treatment is conceptualized, past trauma should be seen as a possible factor. Often these may have occurred in childhood leaving a myriad of issues to complicate or challenge the recovery process. The idea of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) is being realized and seen as major components and driving forces in the perpetuation of addictive behaviors. Professionals trying to accurately diagnose mental health disorders such as major depression, anxiety, Bi-polar or ADHD are starting to learn that these may be dissociative reactions to earlier life trauma. While certainly not a rule of thumb, it clearly constitutes validity markers warranting consideration while attempting comprehensive treatment plans.
These are all concepts that in the light of practical application make sense. Another viewpoint that is gaining warranted examination is the idea that the experience of the disease of addiction itself is traumatizing. The behaviors, encounters and consequences that accompany this disease are often terrifying and shameful. While the self-examination and rigorous honesty about one’s negative behaviors is essential in taking responsibility for one’s actions and recovery, perhaps by attending to the sometimes-horrific events inflicted by self and others we can realize deeper healing and quality sobriety. Understanding the addict as the perpetrator and the victim of one’s self may be a correct model. More and more as therapies gain greater efficacy in the treatment of trauma, the more we need to bridge the gap between 12-step and traditional recovery and complimentary clinical approaches. A deep appreciation of each approach and respect for the common goal of peace and joy for the addict can only bring meaningful outcomes. There need be no stigmatization or shame for the recovering person to seek help when they find themselves in need for any issue. In the words of Bill Wilson, “It would be a product of false pride to claim that AA is a cure-all, even for alcoholism.” This piece is written by a therapist who loves and is immersed in traditional recovery and also appreciates Bill’s offerings of “more will be revealed” and “God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take you health problems to such persons.”