Treating Trauma and Addiction Holistically

Clinician Center
07.31.2020

As addiction research libraries grow and offer a more thorough understanding of addiction and evidence-based practices for addiction treatment, as addiction professionals, we must take our search for answers one step further – particularly when it comes to addiction development and susceptibility. Many addiction treatment programs are generally aware of the link between trauma and addiction, however, only a handful are currently drawing from science to guide and leverage evidence-based practice.

The Connection Between Trauma and Addiction

When it comes to treating substance use disorder (SUD), drug or alcohol addiction does not always reflect the scope of a patient’s illness. In many cases, those struggling with addiction have co-occurring mental health issues that, we at Wellbridge believe, should be treated in parallel with addiction right from the start.

Medical literature highlights the intertwining relationship between these concurrent disorders. A recent large epidemiological study showed that approximately one third of those with PTSD also had a SUD. It also showed that nearly half of the individuals seeking treatment for SUD met the criteria for PTSD.

Additionally, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 75% of patients in substance abuse treatment programs report histories of abuse and trauma. And 12-34% of patients in treatment suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that cause ongoing trauma are directly correlated to substance abuse later in life. Studies show that individuals with three or more ACEs have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse.

Despite the obvious correlation between trauma and addiction, there is evidence that PTSD receives insufficient attention in addiction treatment. To meet this need, our team at Wellbridge is focusing on clinically sophisticated, structured screening tools that effectively identify patients with comorbid conditions, allowing us to more effectively target their patient-centric treatment.

Health Consequences of Comorbid Conditions

The data shows – co-occurring conditions have significant clinical implications. Individuals who present both SUD and PTSD generally have staggeringly negative patient outcomes such as higher incidence of comorbid health disorders and medical problems and increased rates of underemployment and homelessness.

Treating Trauma and Addiction in Parallel

Despite the strong connection between trauma and addiction, the historical approach to the treatment of these conditions has been highly separated and quite different. However, a delay in managing either can lead to poorer outcomes, underscoring the necessity to treat both disorders simultaneously.

Wellbridge considers a patient’s individual lived experiences and identifies any co-occurring mental health issues to develop a unified treatment paradigm – one that leverages scientific learnings to achieve major therapeutic milestones.

Learn more about expanding therapeutic possibilities for SUD and PTSD in Wellbridge’s latest white paper for addiction and mental health professionals.