TRAUMA AND DENIAL
More and more there is recognition in the addiction field of the need to screen for trauma in addicts. The level of denial for trauma can be far more difficult to confront than the addiction. Survivors of trauma have many protective layers repressing and suppressing the pain reaching consciousness. These memories may surface once the primary addiction is stopped. This can be through dreams or flashbacks that leave the recovering person feeling panicked, anxious or depressed. Most if not all experienced some trauma prior to becoming addicted or during use. Many trauma survivors may have tried to share unsuccessfully sharing with someone unwilling or unqualified to properly attend to their problem. They then shut down their feeling system and go through life in denial.
We are all taught to minimize our trauma because others have had it a lot worse. Trauma is experienced differently for all of us. We cannot be judging others responses to traumatic incidents as each of us responds differently. Every trauma event is damaging to some degree and needs attention. Some individuals are more sensitive and only they can judge the length of time or help required. Survivors of trauma minimize the impact when others are seen seemingly to brush off similar incidents or are told by those others that we need get over it.
Many people in relationship with an active or recovering addict have been traumatized by unresolved trauma and shame. Addicts in our lives at times act out of control throwing tantrums and acting like people we don’t recognize. This self centered, explosive behaviour or withdrawing behaviour may be linked to unresolved trauma. We feel powerless to help or change them and we ignore our own pain. That keeps us locked into a way of relating to and reacting to the addict in our life whether we are spouses, parents, children, friends, relatives or coworkers. We can help by working a program of recovery ourselves.
Denial is not a river in Egypt. Denial keeps the addictive system alive and well. Those in support systems at the very least need to be educated in the basics of recovery in order to adequately support the addict.