During the course of your life, some form of trauma will happen to you. At some point you will face it as some form of abuse, injury, the death of someone you love or some other kind of difficulty. All of these different events will affect you in some way at some time. Because the nature of these events or situations, how you process the trauma—especially right after it happens—can feel overwhelming. If you have a history of struggling with any form of addiction, this could be a time where you tempted to use again.
It’s been stated by Dual Recovery Anonymous that when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT) you are much more susceptible to addiction. When a traumatic event occurs, this is essentially worse than all of the HALT characteristics combined. You are overwhelmed as your body—specifically your mental state—is in overload. Your self-control and discipline levels are very low, so any form of temptation is going to influence you in a more powerful way. The following are some steps you can take to process trauma in a healthy way:
Stay With Your Support Network
Now is not the time to isolate your self and spend time alone. When you do, you are much more likely to slip up and pursue unhealthy addictive behavior. You may find yourself picking up the beer bottle again or using drugs again without thinking things through. Instead, go to a friend’s house, go to a neighbor’s house or call someone up on the phone just to talk. Even if you don’t remotely want to feel like talking, just surrounding yourself with others is a fantastic way to avoid relapse. Your support network can make all the difference. Plan ahead so you know who you will call during any times you need help.
It Is Alright to Be Overwhelmed
It is normal to not know how to feel. You may feel scared or numb. You may feel as is if your life is out of control. You may feel filled with rage. You cannot control your emotions during a traumatic event and that is alright. Give yourself some time, and don’t neglect your own well-being. Eat something. Try to get some rest. For example if you are injured or lost a loved one, a grieving period will happen at some point. The process of accepting the event takes time. According to the , intense emotions and changes to how you normally think and act. You may have symptoms from the event such as sleeping more or less than normal are very common after a traumatic event. Your body is facing tremendous stress, so do what you can to minimize stress if possible.
Eventually you will start to process the event and start to come to grips with it. In some cases, you may go into denial. This is not uncommon. With time your body will adjust and start to process the event.
Get the Help of a Professional to Sort Things Out
Do not hesitate to talk with a therapist about the event. This outside perspective will often help you feel better and also allow you a healthy outlet to process what has occurred. With psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, you simply talk to the therapist or counselor about the events. How you feel, what happened or whatever you would like to talk about. You do not have to say anything more than you are comfortable expressing. If you are asked a question that you do not feel comfortable with answering, just say so.
A good therapist will never push you further than you want to go in discussion. The most important thing you can do is find some one to talk with. It does not have to be a therapist if you do not feel comfortable speaking to one at this time. If you want to talk to a friend you trust first, do that. Then have your friend help you find a good therapist. Do not bottle up everything inside.
Writing out your emotions or using art or music some other form of creativity to express yourself is often a healthy way to express how you feel. Just keep in mind that a therapist has been trained specifically in this area so they have the experience and knowledge needed to help you. Treatment will also help you see how to put the trauma into proper perspective. You can still move forward and be happy regardless of what happened to you in the past.