February 26, 2024

Unresolved Trauma: Wounds That Will Not Heal with Sobriety Alone!

Resolutions Healthcare’s addiction curriculum includes my Phase I of Resolution Focused Therapy© (RFT) trauma model. Phase I helps clients connect the dots necessary to resolve our past trauma/issues. I say beginning because that is all you can hope for the first 30 days of sobriety. Any rehab that professes trauma resolution in the first 30 days is just spewing out marketing nonsense. Wounds stemming from past unresolved trauma/life events will not heal without resolution and will continue to play a key role in client relapses. Clients need to learn that trauma resolution will not happen with sobriety alone!

I have spent my professional career helping children and adults resolve their past traumas/life events. It sometimes takes years to bring clients with severe trauma to resolution. However, since working with substance abusers, I have come to realize the importance of helping them begin their journey to resolution. I have come to realize that substance abuse fueled by past unresolved trauma is a double whammy. I have also heard too many clients think 30 days at a rehab will resolve their traumas. It just does not work like that.

The first lesson we teach our clients is substances are not a symptom of trauma. Substances are the unhealthy ground (way) that clients learn to numb themselves and escape from the trauma symptoms. Several of my previous blogs address the symptoms that arise from past unresolved trauma/life events, https://resolutionshealthcare.com/blog/chasing-symptoms. Replacing the unhealthy ground(s) with a healthier ground(s) can sometimes take months to take hold. This is where many clients go astray leading to post rehab relapses within days and weeks from discharge. We cannot stress this enough for our clients.

Healthy ground replacement involves practice, practice, and more practice. It sometimes takes months to implement healthy grounds to replace the old unhealthy ones. Only after establishing a healthier ground(s) can clients then begin the journey to trauma resolution. This is another critical area I believe many treatment programs miss by opening past wounds without realizing that their clients are not ready for it. Rushing trauma work can cause more harm than good, Another area I have covered in a previous blog, https://resolutionshealthcare.com/blog/the-danger-of-rushing-trauma-resolution.

It is common in recovery philosophy to do 90 meetings in 90 days following discharge from a treatment center. Clients often misunderstand the meaning behind it. It is a great practice and achieves the goal of establishing a healthy ground. By repeatedly doing something it becomes part of your new routine and helps those in recovery to achieve more discipline. This is just one way of establishing a healthy way to address trauma symptoms when triggered.

To get back to my point of this blog, sobriety alone will not resolve past traumas/life events. Depending on the severity of those events, clients may need to seek continued mental health counseling in addition to their recovery practices. Recovery practices also do not resolve past trauma. Recovery is about staying sober and doing self-awareness work to improve yourselves and understand your addiction. I have also seen too many therapists not trained in trauma work attempt to bridge recovery and trauma resolution together. This is too much for clients to combine. Trauma resolution work should be left to therapists who have extensive experience in the field.

In one of my other blogs I address how to recognize whether your addiction is linked to a past trauma, https://resolutionshealthcare.com/blog/addictions-disease-and-or-symptom-relief. It is essential that clients learn how their past has impacted their present thought, feelings, and behaviors. If you believe that a past trauma/event is impacting your present self and addiction, then take the time to seek out an experienced therapist to help guide you to resolution. Sobriety alone will not be enough for you to achieve a healthier and happier life. By achieving an inner peace with your past, you can now move forward and sobriety along with trauma resolution will be an achievable goal!

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance!

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMFT