Category: Healthy Living

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Childhood Trauma and Substance Addiction

It is widely known that people with a history of trauma tend to develop conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Mental health conditions caused by trauma can be amplified if the person experienced trauma as a child. Children’s brains are in the earliest stages of development, and traumatic experiences leave a larger impact. People living in the shadow of childhood trauma are more susceptible to substance addiction.

Negative Consequences of Trauma

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), trauma is defined as an impact resulting from “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”

Trauma is subjective. Some examples of traumatic incidents include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, untreated mental illness in the home, and the loss of a caregiver. The negative impact of trauma on individuals and families has been a behavioral health concern that requires a long healing process. But many people who experience a traumatic event will go on with their lives without the awareness that they need mental health intervention. The lack of mental health awareness and trauma-informed care may lead to worsening conditions, including substance use and risky behaviors such as self-injury.

Health Outcomes of Childhood Trauma

Children are more susceptible to the negative effects of trauma because their brains are growing and developing at a quicker pace. Because of strong neuroplasticity, new experiences tend to have a formative impact on the brain. Individuals who experience childhood trauma may undergo disrupted neurodevelopment, social and emotional impairment, cognitive disabilities, substance use and addiction, self-harm tendencies, and even early death.

Research shows that children with traumatic experiences are 4 to 12 times more likely to develop substance addiction when they grow up. The relationship between childhood trauma and substance use is certainly complex because there are many factors playing into it. One impact indicator is low self-esteem. Generally speaking, individuals with untreated childhood trauma are more incentivized to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.

Traumatic Stress and Changes in the Brain

The brain’s limbic system has five parts that may be directly affected by traumatic experiences. First of all, the amygdala, which is responsible for detecting threats, begins to have heightened sensitivity. This part of the brain becomes difficult to be calmed. This is why memories of past trauma may still trigger a physical fight or flight response.

Next, as the brain’s learning center, the hippocampus may become highly sensitive to stress. Exposure to trauma may cause structural changes in this part of the brain, leading to cognitive difficulties in life. This explains why people have trouble recalling painful memories. Processing new information can also become challenging. Individuals that go through traumatic situations tend to be less trusting of others as a result.

Other parts of the brain that tend to be impacted by trauma are the thalamus, the hypothalamus, and the nucleus accumbens. These are aspects of the brain’s relay station, regulation hub, and reward system. Trauma heightens sensory data processing, increases activity in bodily function regulation, and hijacks the brain’s reward system. Consequently, people tend to look for external means to self-medicate.

Behavioral Addictions

Individuals with untreated childhood trauma are susceptible to developing a wide range of addictions other than substance-related ones. Behavioral addictions include gambling, sex, relationships, work, food, social media, and even self-harm. These behaviors may initially develop as an individual learns how to cope with stress on their own.

People who have suffered trauma will often find it near impossible to be at peace with themselves. Their behaviors essentially become a way of not being still, and they try to escape their base essence of being. Unfortunately, different types of addiction only worsen their psychological conditions. Trauma and addiction may become a vicious cycle.

Finding Trauma-Informed Care

People struggling with trauma, PTSD, and addiction need to find detox centers that offer trauma-informed care. Even if they are open to treatment, working with health professionals may not get to the root causes, which are crucial for relapse prevention. Without using a trauma-informed approach, sometimes re-traumatizing scenarios may happen.

It is important for recovering individuals to feel that they are safe in the treatment environment. Also, many trauma survivors feel guilt and shame and are afraid to talk about their past. But bottling up their emotions about traumatic experiences is not conducive to long-term recovery. Trauma-informed care raises a high bar for therapists to be highly sensitive and yet still capable of revising the past with patients.

People struggling with trauma, PTSD, or addiction should look for trauma-informed care. Even if they are open to treatment, health professionals may not get to the root cause, which is crucial for relapse prevention. If you are looking for a compassionate team that uses trauma-informed care, look no further. We at Capo Canyon Recovery, near Mission Viejo, CA. take pride in our holistic healing path, which is incremental to a sustainable, long-term recovery. We focus on each stage of recovery for your physical health and mental health. Our inpatient residential care and outpatient long-term care programs offer unmatched benefits and results. We provide excess comfort with an in-house chef, luxurious beds, and an onsite organic garden during your sobriety journey. With Capo Canyon Recovery, you can rely on us to help you achieve long-term recovery. Call us at (800) 804-8714. With our help, you can enjoy your new beginning..

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The Relationship Between Stress and Our Bodies

Most people often don’t recognize the amount of stress they regularly experience and how it negatively affects their bodies. For those in recovery from addiction, learning to de-stress is critical for preventing relapse, and one should work with trained therapists to learn recovery-supportive techniques.

Sometimes we are fatigued and anxious, and we aren’t sure why. Although our bodies can handle some level of stress or stimulation in daily life, there can be points when stress becomes too much (also known as “chronic stress”) and poorly impacts the body. In fact, over-stress may affect all our bodies’ systems, including nervous, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and endocrine systems.

Chronic Stress and the Body’s Systems

We all know that when the body feels stressed, there tends to be muscle tension. Chronic or unreleased stress may cause muscles to remain in a state of guardedness, leading to headaches, migraine, neck or shoulder pain. Stress can also cause shortness of breath, impacting the respiratory system. People with pre-existing respiratory diseases such as asthma may experience breathing problems under stress. Acute stress can also trigger asthma attacks.

Furthermore, the body responds to stress with an increase in heart rate to provide oxygen to the body. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol can also cause contractions of heart muscles. This is known as the “fight or flight” response of the cardiovascular system. Repeated stress may contribute to the inflammation in the circulatory system, causing heart attacks.

During a “fight or flight” response, the nervous system interprets the situation as threatening and regulates physical reactions such as sweating or mind fog. Chronic stress makes the nervous system stay in a state of continuous activation, causing more damage to the body. People may lose sleep under acute stress, and sleep deprivation can worsen cognition and emotional health. This is often a vicious cycle.

Recognizing Signs of Chronic Stress

Stress is a natural reaction to threats or challenges in our environment. It can sometimes motivate us to act, like taking care of family members and work responsibilities. Some stressful experiences are short-term and the body recuperates by resting. However, when the level of stress becomes acute or chronic, that is when it begins taking a toll on your health. Symptoms of chronic or acute stress include anxiety, depression, insomnia, and continued headaches.

Because chronic stress compromises your immune system, you may take more time to recover from an illness or injury. People under chronic stress are also more susceptible to viral illnesses such as the flu or the common cold. When you develop frequent fevers or common cold symptoms, the body may be sending signals that you need rest. Overwork stress, for example, may also cause the body to have more inflammations and fevers.

Chronic stress may also cause cognitive or memory loss. This is because the hippocampus, a part of the brain which usually has the highest density of receptors that respond to stress, is also the center of memory processing and cognitive abilities. Research has shown that acute stress can cause functional changes in the brain’s hippocampus. A high concentration of stress hormones may cause memory disorders.

Releasing Stress From the Body

The body needs to relax from time to time in order to release the impact of stress. This is also known as stress management. There are many stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, massage, music therapy, nature walks, or even just a hot bath. Combined with regular physical exercises, these healthy self-care practices can also reduce muscle tension and regulate heart rate. You need to develop a set of de-stressing techniques that work for your lifestyle and personality.

Maintaining a healthy social support network can also be helpful for stress caused by isolation. Socialization is an effective method of stress reduction by maintaining a sense of connectedness to others. You can join a book club, call on an old friend to chat, and hang out with family members. Social support enhances the balancing of hormones, especially with increases in the level of oxytocin, which functions to lower anxiety levels.

Engaging in altruistic community service can also decrease stress. Focusing on helping others in need can provide you with a perspective of gratitude and contentment. You can choose to incorporate community service into your stress management plan and select activities that you enjoy doing.

Most importantly, enough rest and proper sleep create the foundation of a stress management plan. Realize the importance of sleep being a body-mind state of sensory detachment that impacts every system of the body. Make it a habit to unplug from the busyness of life and work demands. Follow a regular sleep routine and find ways to improve sleep quality.

Do you know that over-stress may affect all our bodies’ systems, including nervous, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and endocrine systems? For those in recovery from addiction, learning to de-stress is critical for preventing relapse. One should work with trained therapists to learn recovery-supportive techniques. At Capo Canyon Recovery, near Mission Viejo, CA., we take pride in our holistic, incremental path to sustainable and long-term recovery. We focus on each stage of recovery, both in terms of physical health and mental health. Both our inpatient residential care and outpatient long-term care programs offer unmatched benefits. We provide excess comfort during your sobriety journey with an in-house chef, luxurious beds, and an onsite organic garden. With Capo Canyon Recovery, you can rely on us to help you achieve long-term sobriety. By coaching you to cope with upcoming stress and challenges, you can start your journey with experienced recovery experts today. Call us at (800) 804-8714.

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