Understanding the Different Types of Trauma

man struggling with one of the types of trauma

Understanding the Different Types of Trauma

By Lakeview Health
Lakeview Health
Author Sarah Franklin
Sarah Franklin

Sarah Franklin joined the Lakeview Health clinical team in 2013. She is trained in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and works... read more

Published: February 16, 2021
Updated: April 28, 2021

For many individuals struggling with addiction, a deeper issue tends to be beneath the surface of the drug or alcohol use. One of the most common misconceptions surrounding addiction is that the diagnosis is based on bad decisions alone.  In many cases, an underlying mental health disorder can be a large contributing factor to substance use and abuse. We often see people using drugs or alcohol to cope with memories that are otherwise difficult to deal with.  Trauma therapy can help an individual learn to cope with nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and disturbing memories in a healthy way. I often tell my patients that our goal is to find ways of overcoming the pain of traumatic memories without the negative consequences that drugs and alcohol abuse are accompanied by.

What is Trauma?

A traumatic experience is defined as an experience that is deeply disturbing or distressing. When the effects of trauma last for quite some time after the event and it is negatively impacting someone’s life, oftentimes we see a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. There are many different types of trauma and there are many different reactions to trauma — all of which are normal. I like to explain to my patients that symptoms of PTSD are NORMAL reactions to an ABNORMAL event. 

If you have experienced a traumatic event, it’s crucial to get the help and support you need instead of turning to harmful substances to cope. Using drugs or alcohol to cope with trauma is comparable to putting a band-aid on a wound that requires stitches—it may hold the wound together temporarily, but the wound will not heal properly. 

Types of Trauma

There are many different types of trauma that patients might be facing, including:

  • Natural disasters: Any type of natural event like a tornado, hurricane, or other incidents that cause significant damage and create feelings of fear and grief.
  • Loss: The death of an individual close to you, especially an unexpected death, can be traumatic.
  • Community violence: Witnessing acts of violence at school or within the community can have lasting effects.
  • Medical incident: Dealing with a serious illness, experiencing a severe injury, or having an invasive procedure can be traumatic 
  • Childhood trauma: Neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and other maltreatment can be detrimental to the development of a child and lead to problems well into adulthood.
  • Domestic violence: This is the threatened or actual act of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse within an intimate relationship.
  • Sexual assault: This trauma comes from any unwanted or involuntary acts of a sexual nature towards an individual.
  • War violence: This trauma comes from the exposure of war, experiencing an act of terrorism, or being involved in war combat.

Trauma-Informed Care at Lakeview Health

The team at Lakeview Health takes a trauma-informed approach to addiction treatment in order to keep our patients safe and comfortable during their time with us. We understand how addiction and trauma are connected, and we recognize the different types of trauma people can experience. Through dual diagnosis treatment, we are able to help our patients recover from both addiction and trauma in order to break the dangerous cycle they’ve been experiencing. We teach our patients the coping skills they need to discuss and work through their experiences in a way that doesn’t retraumatize them and harm their mental health.

To learn more about the different types of trauma and how to begin recovering from both trauma and addiction, contact Lakeview Health today at 866.374.0561.

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