Trauma Therapy

Trauma Therapy During Addiction Treatment

We’ve all heard the old adage: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

But how do we derive strength from those events that feel like they might, indeed, be life-threatening? How do we take the things that happen to us in our lives and impact us in detrimental ways, and turn them to our advantage?

That’s the goal of the Trauma Therapy work that goes on at Cornerstone of Recovery, because we often find that for those who come to us for help with addiction to alcohol and drugs, the substances themselves are just a symptom of the problem. The true source of misery is an emotional one, and it often manifests as a reaction to a traumatic event or events that have taken place in our patients’ lives.

In other words, many of our clients have turned to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What was once a diagnosis exclusively for combat veterans is now applicable to the general population, and neuroscience has recognized that all manner of traumatic events – from violent physical encounters to the impact of a divorce on an impressionable child – can set the stage for PTSD. At Cornerstone, our whole goal is to help patients determine the nature of the trauma in their lives and equip them with the coping skills to both process it and make peace with it.

What does trauma entail, exactly?

We recognize that trauma comes in two broad varieties – “Big T” traumas, in which the victim’s physical safety was in jeopardy (military combat, domestic violence/assault, even the survival of a catastrophic event like a hurricane), and “little t” traumas, which are often emotionally developmental events that occur in just about everyone’s lives. The fascinating – or troubling, depending on how you look at it – thing about the brain, however, is that it treats both types of trauma in the same manner.

The sympathetic nervous system is aroused … the body is flooded with neurochemicals like cortisol and adrenaline … certain body functions like the immune system and the digestive system are shut down … and the traumatic events are cataloged as fragmented memories. Without getting too technical, they’re stored as shards of thoughts, images, emotions and body sensations – TIES, we call them – that can trigger a full-body response to the most benign of stimuli. A victim of domestic violence, for example, walks by a man in the grocery store who wears the same cologne her abusive husband did, and her body begins to react.

So what does trauma have to do with addiction?

Often, drugs and alcohol are used as coping mechanisms to deal with the emotional pain of traumatic events. They’re used as anesthesia to numb the memories, to stem the body’s involuntary reactions, to silence the thoughts that rise to the surface unbidden. But as effective as the drugs might be in the beginning, they also serve to keep an individual from moving past the trauma, and in many cases, the lifestyle that accompanies addiction often adds new traumas or exacerbates existing ones.

As part of the therapeutic process at Cornerstone, the first step is to address the addiction; only after the drugs are removed can our trained clinical staff begin to unravel the tangled web of memories and emotions that make up the psychological damage those events have caused. A variety of therapies are used to address and resolve trauma, from group therapies such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), individual therapies such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) or family therapies such as Internal Family Systems. Our therapists continue to introduce new techniques as well, such as Acceptance and Integration Training and other emerging therapies. With these therapies, a patient’s trauma can be addressed in more direct and exact ways; combined with Schema Therapy and cognitive therapeutic approaches as well as experiential activities therapies, those thoughts, images, emotions and body sensations are reconnected. Fragmented memories begin to be made whole, and the distress they evoke is eased as those memories are unlinked. Patients begin to recognize their feelings and put a name to them instead of allowing them to rise to the surface in a torrent of primal fear, and with tools like Acceptance and Integration Training, patients are able to confront the trauma in their lives without being overwhelmed or consumed.

For many of them, Cornerstone’s Trauma Therapy is a foundation to more extensive work that must be addressed over a longer period of time. That foundation, however, will allow them to make connections with how trauma has affected their relationships and infused all areas of their lives, including their addiction. Addressing it in a supportive environment with trained professionals is the first step on a journey of healing that many patients don’t even realize they need, and until they come through one of Cornerstone’s numerous treatment programs, they don’t understand how deeply it’s interwoven into every aspect of their lives.

We understand that there’s a lot of fear that comes with the idea of addressing past traumatic events. We maintain, however, that addiction is a symptom of the chaos those events have caused in the lives of our patients, and in order to move on with life free of addiction’s shackles, the root causes must be addressed. We’ll stand by you every step of the way and guide you through that process, because we believe that on the other side of it, you’ll find a sense of freedom you never knew existed – from the drugs, but also from the pain you’ve carried for so long. We know, from experience and research, that education, preparation and therapy can help patients process their trauma, weaken the stranglehold of vividness it has on their lives and reframe it in a way that does indeed make them stronger individuals.

Alcohol & Drug Addiction Treatment Services

The Path To Recovery Starts At Cornerstone

Medical Detoxification can be a critical time in a patient’s journey toward recovery because the symptoms of withdrawal can be difficult to manage and potentially life-threatening. A team of certified, competent and caring professionals work together to ensure that we provide the best medical care for our patients. The Medical Director prescribes detox medications to keep the patient safe and reasonably comfortable.

While receiving detoxification medications, patients also attend psychoeducational groups and experiential activities. However, detox patients are also given sufficient opportunity to relax and allow their bodies to begin the healing process. Patients on a detox protocol are monitored 24 hours a day and the typical length of detoxification is 3 to 5 days and may be longer depending on the severity of the patient’s withdrawal symptoms.

This unit is designed to support our patients as they enter treatment and begin to invest in their community of peers. An extensive battery of assessments is performed to identify the patient’s bio-psycho-social-spiritual strengths, needs, and barriers to recovery (such as chronic pain, dual diagnosis, trauma, or other co-occurring disorders). This comprehensive assessment process provides our medical and clinical teams with much of the information they need to build a treatment plan that is individualized for each patient.

Our NON-NARCOTIC PAIN MANAGEMENT PROGRAM offers solutions that eliminate and or reduce the dependence on medications to treat pain and improve treatment outcomes. We are able to reduce pain and improve the recovery process. We offer sound information and teach skills that the patient can use to improve coping, relaxation, mindfulness, nutrition, and much more. Some of the modalities we use are Reiki, Rubenfeld Synergy, Acupressure, Mindful Stretching, and Addiction Free Pain Management Education.

We believe healing occurs through direct experience. Experiential activities amplify the traditional therapeutic
modalities that are part of our milieu. Fitness, Meditation, Relaxation Therapy, Yoga, Spirituality Groups, Ropes Course, Mindfulness, Art Therapy, Drumming Circles, and community outings are some components of experiential healing at Cornerstone. Patients who participate in experiential therapies report reductions

Family Therapy is an integral part of all of the clinical programs at Cornerstone. Early on in the treatment process, we conduct a Family Questionnaire which allows family members and close personal friends to have input that impacts the patients treatment plan. When appropriate, there are Family Therapy sessions throughout the treatment process. These sessions are designed to work through relationship issues, enhance communication, educate the family about the disease of addiction and provide them with emotional support while their loved one is in treatment. Through this support, the family will gain knowledge about the treatment process and how they may be unknowingly supporting the addiction through co-dependent and enabling behaviors.

Family members will learn about how to engage in personal growth and change through various 12 step programs, so that the family can heal together trough the recovery process. Cornerstone requires that each patient complete Family Fundamentals, an intensive three-day family program designed to provide intensive education, group therapy, family therapy, 12 step meeting experience, and an opportunity to repair the damage caused by active addiction. Family members are strongly encouraged to attend the Family Fundamentals program along with the patient. Cornerstone also has a weekly family education group for family members and an ongoing support group for parents of young adults who are struggling with addiction or who have recently entered recovery

The Continuous Care Program upholds Cornerstone of Recovery’s treatment philosophy that chemical dependency is a chronic incurable disease that requires the consistent and continued attention of each patient for a lifetime. Recent scientific studies of the disease process have determined that full remission from active addiction does not occur until an individual has experienced at least 18 months of continuous sobriety, long after most intensive treatment programs have concluded.

In response to this knowledge, the Continuous Care Program provides services for a period of at least 18 months following treatment, to ensure that each patient has the opportunity for professional support throughout the early stages of their recovery. During this time, patients are encouraged to practice the skills and tools they learned and developed in treatment as they find their way back
into their home, work, and social environments. They are able to talk with Recovery Coaches and therapeutically
process the ups and downs they experience in sobriety. Active participation in the Continuous Care Program is vital in establishing a lifelong, solid recovery plan.

The Support Living Facility (SLF) provides a safe environment for patients to continue to learn and practice self-management and interpersonal relationship skills while solidifying their recovery program. It can take several months for individuals to become comfortable enough in their recovery to successfully move away from the environment where they got sober. The SLF Program allows men and women to experience some of the freedoms they will experience after treatment while they are supported by thier peers, staff, and a sober environment. Staff monitors the community through regular contact, group therapy, spirituality groups, relapse prevention groups, drug screens, and random checks of the living quarters. Eventually, the patient is allowed to retrieve their cell phone, to leave the premises, operate a vehicle and obtain employment. The minimum length of stay is 2 months (while the individual concurrently is in the IOP Program). Patients often choose to stay in SLF longer while they continue to build their recovery network and become more comfortable with the life changes they’ve made.Typical length of stay varies from 2 to 6 months, depending on the patient’s clinical needs.


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