A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care is one of the most essential areas of expertise in substance use treatment.

Addiction is rarely an isolated condition. This means there’s usually more than one factor that led to the development of the substance use disorder, rather than it being a random occurrence or rooted in a single moment of temptation. 

It also means that addiction requires multifaceted treatment in order to most successfully and sustainably help clients fully recover. This is where trauma-informed care comes in.

Today we’re going to take a closer look at trauma-informed care, who it’s for, what it looks like within substance use treatment and the top benefits of this crucial area of healthcare.

What is trauma-informed care?

Trauma-informed care is an approach to treatment that recognizes the impact trauma has on our overall lives and well-being and takes trauma into account throughout recovery. While this article focuses specifically on substance use treatment, trauma-informed care and education can be applied to a variety of settings like hospitals, work environments, schools and more.

A core focus of trauma-informed care is to reframe the question from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What’s happened in your life that led you to this moment?” This approach to treatment takes into account the full spectrum of a person’s life, from their childhood to the present.

Rather than simply isolating a person’s symptoms and treating a singular condition, trauma-informed care dives deeper into what’s causing the symptoms in the first place. This not only helps to resolve the symptoms but creates a better understanding of what contributed to someone’s current circumstances while learning how to best navigate similar challenges or situations in the future.

Unfortunately, without the proper systems in place to implement trauma-focused care, many organizations experience unsustainable or inconsistent changes in their clients’ recovery journeys.

What are the trauma-informed care principles?

It’s imperative that clients and staff both feel physically and psychologically safe during treatment. Below are specific principles, values and beliefs that should be rooted at the center of the trauma-informed approach to healthcare.

  • Transparency is important for making well-informed decisions, as well as for building and maintaining trust in relationships.
  • Surrounding clients with peer support (individuals with shared experiences) is an integral element in the successful delivery of trauma-informed care.
  • Collaboration between different people, staff and clients alike, increases efficiency and success.
  • Empowering patients reminds them that trauma, which will play a role in evolving their personhood, is not their identity nor the sole deciding factor in who they are as a person.
  • Humility and responsiveness are practiced with each patient, as the staff uses best practices to take into consideration their own biases when providing treatment.

Benefits of trauma-informed care

More than 70 percent of all adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives (and that percentage only represents the reported cases). Many of these individuals will develop a substance use disorder in an attempt to cope with their trauma, and yet over 90 percent of them will not receive any form of professional support or treatment.

Many people are unaware of what substance use treatment entails. Trauma-informed care creates a powerful support system and helps clients heal the cause of their symptoms instead of simply treating the symptoms.  

The top benefits of trauma-informed care include:

  • Easier to avoid re-traumatization 
  • Wider access to peer support resources
  • Empowering the client to take charge of their life
  • Greater capacity for self-compassion and self-love
  • Increased effectiveness of recovery services

If you think you or someone you love could benefit from trauma-informed care, you can send us a message today to learn more about your different treatment options.

Begin healing today

Recent and older traumas alike can wound us so deeply that healing, peace and genuine happiness can feel impossible to achieve. We’re here to let you know that recovery is possible no matter where you are in your journey.

Bluff Augusta specializes in providing personalized, evidence-based treatment to help individuals and families heal from various traumas and trauma-related conditions. Whether you’re struggling to cope with the trauma itself, the mental health consequences or a substance use disorder that’s developed in the wake of the event, we’re here to help.

Send us a message or give our team a call today to get started.