Complex Trauma, Addiction and Recovery

In my experience, where there are challenges of substance use, there is often a legacy of trauma impacting clients’ lives today. While substances alter aspects of how our brains function, and there is certainly a propensity for substance abuse to “run in” families, I view substance use through a complex trauma lens. Many of us learned it wasn’t safe to connect to and share our needs. We understood that if we did, we risked the loss or wrath of someone we needed to care of us. Often, feelings were better left pushed away and not felt. Use of substances, or repeated maladaptive behaviors (for example, those that are a part of an unhealthy relationship to food or to gambling), can be seen as adaptive responses to developmental and relational trauma. In an attempt to regulate our psychological and physiological reactions to these experiences, we employ strategies to disconnect. Our developing brains protect us by engaging in adaptive responses to manage the pain, fear, or shame that we automatically internalized when our environment couldn’t meet our needs or otherwise harmed us.

I work with a significant number of clients, and their families or partners, who need support to address the challenges of addiction and the journey of recovery. I help clients to address issues around boundaries, codependency, sobriety, and recovery. I have an established network of professionals with whom I consult, and to whom I can refer clients, when a more intensive level of care might be helpful