Trauma is the experience and the subsequent internalization of extremely painful events. Often shame is the lingering result. The more of these events we encounter, the more we experience our identity as flawed and defective. As this shame becomes internalized we develop a shame-based identity. The majority of addicts carry shame. To stop drinking alcohol or using drugs puts an end to the behavior of self-medicating, but it does not stop the person’s underlying shame-based identity.
The goal of healing programs for trauma and shame are to free the psyche from these skewed thought patterns. Abandonment, neglect, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are forms of rejection and leave their victim feeling unwanted, undesirable and personally flawed. This affects every aspect life including self-esteem, work and school functioning, as well as relationships. For the addict, it is critical to address these issues to reduce relapse potential.
A healing program for trauma and shame focuses on education about the types of trauma (physical, sexual, psychological) and how shame manifests as a result. Quality healing programs create a safe container for healing and provide opportunities for revisiting the trauma so that negative emotions can be discharged, and self-sabotaging internal messages can be confronted and reframed. Then, it becomes possible to move forward in recovery unimpeded by shame.
It is not your fault if you have experienced trauma and if you are carrying shame. But it is your responsibility to ask for help. Healing begins in a loving and nurturing treatment environment. Freedom is possible. Let’s heal together.