While substance abuse and addictive behavior is a complex mental health issue, research has shown that addiction is often triggered by specific trauma, thus opening the door to new, more effective interventions.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) defines a “traumatic event” as one in which someone experiences, witnesses, or is confronted with actual or threatened death or serious injury, or threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others. According to studies cited by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), trauma – including physical, emotional or sexual abuse – is a risk factor for substance abuse.
In layman’s terms, this suggests that addiction is often a coping mechanism for living with unresolved, underlying trauma. Drugs, alcohol, sexual addiction, overeating, and other destructive behaviors help numb overwhelming feelings of stress, depression, or actual threats of violence.
That means conventional group therapies and interventions, focusing only on the addiction itself, may not be enough.
While many addiction recovery programs take a “once an addict, always an addict” approach, or have participants reiterate, “I am an alcoholic,” or “I am a drug addict,” some experts believe this hinders long-term recovery and encourages victimization.
“Identifying daily with your past addiction is not necessary to thrive in sobriety,” says Amy Guerrero, a Trauma-Informed Recovery Life Coach and founder of Thrive in Recovery. “But what is necessary is to deal with the unresolved trauma that caused the addiction.”
Guerrero helps people transcend their “addict identity” and live healthier and happier by addressing the underlying trauma that led to their addiction, getting them sober without leaving them stuck or miserable. “People in recovery may no longer be addicted, yet they can still suffer from depression, anxiety, loneliness, and the lack of energy living in a body that they don’t really like,” she says.
Having successfully navigated her own journey of addiction and thriving in recovery, Guerrero feels uniquely qualified to help others because she understands what it takes. “I tortured myself with guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, and confusion putting together six months at a time while feeling miserable inside. I read book after book, tried every relapse prevention program, many therapy modalities, nutrition theories, somatic experiencing, yoga, meditation, and more, to find the freedom I was seeking,” Guerrero recalls. “What all this taught me is it takes a personalized approach to integrate trauma after addiction in order to thrive sober.”
That is why Guerrero created a unique, personalized coaching solution to help former addicts maintain sobriety and be healed from old wounds. “Personal coaching and a customized program that addresses your unique needs will end your overwhelm and confusion,” she says. “Your life will move forward with hope, happiness and purpose.”
Many mental health systems, correctional systems, local human service agencies, and practitioners like Guerrero are making the switch to a trauma-informed approach, changing the conversation from, “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”
The results are promising – and potentially life-changing.
“I did 30-day treatment, I did outpatient, but I could never make it more than three months,” says Jenny M., a client who sought Guerrero’s support to overcome an alcohol addiction. “Now I’m able to recognize patterns in my life that have been destructive. With Amy’s support I was able to get my trauma out, name it, and recognize it. This really, truly changed my life.”
Guerrero’s program is tailor-made and personalized to a client’s specific needs and goals – something very different from most programs. “I know that one person, healed and thriving, leads to a ripple effect in breaking the negative pattern in a family forever,” Guerrero says. “It can start with you, right now.”
Amy Guerrero is a Trauma-Informed Recovery Life Coach and the creator of Thrive in Recovery. She combined her personal journey of healing her trauma and choosing a conscious sober lifestyle with years of education to create a unique solution she now shares with others. Thrive in Recovery is an integrative approach to recovery that supports her clients to discover the root cause of the addictive escape and reveal their true potential and purpose. Thrive in Recovery supports clients to help them discover their purpose and create the life they desire, to go beyond surviving to thriving in all areas of life.
To learn more about coaching programs from Amy Guerrero and Thrive in Recovery, visit AmyGuerrero.com.