Addiction is a complex disease. Most people simply think of it as a problem with using drugs or drinking too much. Others realize that the drugs and alcohol are just a symptom. It is sometimes thought of as a moral issue, other times a lack of self-discipline or willpower. Some realize that it is none of the above, but a problem with the brain’s wiring. Some believe it is nurture, the result of a poor upbringing, but there are many addicts for whom this was not the case. So what is it? The truth is that addiction is many things, and while science knows more about it than ever before, there is much to learn. Women And Addiction You may or may not be surprised to learn that it is only in the past 20 years or so that researchers have begun to study women’s addiction. Prior to that, addiction studies were limited to men. Other things that have been discovered about addiction and treatment are that not all treatment strategies work for everyone. Treatment centers that take a multidisciplinary approach have higher success rates. Relapse And Addiction Another area that has seen progress is that of relapse prevention. In the past, people were often confused by relapse. Why would someone who has gotten clean and sober and improved their life go back to using? While there is no one right answer for this, it’s been found that unaddressed trauma is a major factor in addiction relapse, particularly among women. Trauma And Addiction Does trauma cause addiction? What comes first? Again, there are no hard and fast answers to this question, but what is known is there is a strong connection between trauma and substance abuse. Additionally, many people who are caught in the grips of addiction will suffer from trauma, even if they weren’t previously exposed to trauma prior to using. The very nature of the addict lifestyle lends itself to violence, exploitation and emotional distress. In short, there’s a very good chance that an average woman entering a treatment facility has been exposed to childhood trauma, trauma as an adolescent and trauma as an adult. This trauma may range from sexual abuse, domestic violence, other violent crime, witnessing violence, grief and loss. How Trauma Plays A Part In Relapse Relapse rates for women leaving treatment are notoriously high. Women often successfully graduate treatment programs and go on to remain clean and sober for weeks, months and years but then fall back into using. What happens to cause this? Why do some women relapse repeatedly, often dying as a result of their addiction when they have seen what life in sobriety is like? The answer often lies in unaddressed trauma. Many times, treatment helps addicts by addressing the addiction, removing the addict from the lifestyle and altering habits and behaviors. These are all good things, of course. Yes, a person struggling with addiction should learn new habits and behaviors, should learn about addiction and can benefit greatly by a change in scenery. But unless some core issues are addressed, the pattern of relapse may continue. How EMDR Treats Trauma There are many ways trauma and PTSD can be addressed. Counseling and different types of therapy will see success over time. However, trauma therapy is often a long road. This is often why treatment centers don’t touch it. They realize that 30, 60 or even 90 days isn’t sufficient time to delve deep into issues that have long been under the surface. Fortunately, there are tools that can help. EMDR therapy is one such tool. It has been used to treat trauma and PTSD in war veterans, survivors of sexual assault and violent crime, and survivors of trauma such as car accidents and natural disasters. What Is EMDR? EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Although that may sound a bit intimidating, EMDR is a proven, safe and effective method of helping individuals heal from trauma without the use of addictive medications. This is good news, because although the use of medications can alleviate many of the symptoms of trauma and PTSD, it is only a band-aid, not a cure. EMDR does not involve drugs, electrical shocks or hypnosis. EMDR sessions are typically an hour in duration, and treatment may span from three sessions up to a dozen or more, depending on the situation. EMDR is recognized as an effective treatment for PTSD by the World Health Organization, The Department of Defense and the American Psychiatric Association. What happens in an EMDR Session? The session is facilitated by a mental health professional who is trained and certified in EMDR therapy. The clinician will take some time to get to know you and your situation, then will select a memory to target first. As the client, you will then spend some time recalling this memory. The clinician will have you track a side to side movement with your eyes. This may sound odd, but this triggers changes in the brain. This is one phase of the process, but it is at the core of the treatment. The EMDR session involves reprocessing the memories that have caused you to struggle in life, and become desensitized to the triggers that can inflict physiological reactions to certain stimuli, resulting in emotional breakdowns, panic attacks and flashbacks. People who have received EMDR for trauma report not only being freed from the pain of trauma, but also feeling empowered and confident in their ability to handle their emotions and memories. All this without medications or years spent in talk therapy. EMDR challenges the long-held belief that treatment for trauma and PTSD must take years of work. It instead subscribes to the belief, backed by data, that the brain strives for normalcy and will heal itself, just as the body does. EMDR facilitates the brain’s natural capacity to heal, and for survivors of trauma, can help prevent years of debilitating PTSD and trauma symptoms that often lead to self-medication and other destructive behavior. EMDR Trauma Therapy At Wayside House Wayside House is a treatment center for women and offers a variety of treatments designed to help women heal and recover from addiction. Activities such as yoga and massage, horticulture therapy and equine therapy all work together to create a comprehensive treatment experience that creates long-lasting change in the lives of women who complete the program. Our treatment doesn’t just treat the addict, it treats the whole woman. We offer trauma therapy including EMDR and treatment for women with co-occurring disorders. Wayside House also offers aftercare and alumni programs. Call Wayside House at 561-278-0055 today to schedule a confidential consultation.