EMDR in Addiction Treatment
We know for sure that trauma occurs in well over 90% of people who seek mental health or addiction treatment. When a trauma occurs, it is outside of the normal range of human experience. When the experience happens and it enters into the brain, the brain doesn’t know how to process it, metabolize it for lack of a better word. Consequently, it gets frozen and isn’t processed like every other experience. If it’s frozen in time, the person consciously or unconsciously is still hanging on to the remnants of that experience and that can last for many, many years.
We certainly don’t want blame any person or event as the cause of an addiction. However, can a person or event have led someone who experienced trauma to seek comfort, solace, a sense of peace, or escape what they’ve gone through, with drug use? Absolutely that can happen, and that can happen with first use. They escaped the pain of the experience and that becomes its own reward. People may go back to that for the same reward. What can happen then is addiction, because it becomes its own separate issue and it is a disease. A fatal disease if it is not treated.
EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It is considered a very effective treatment for trauma. It’s also effective with other conditions including anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to actually help the brain process though the experience. So that the memory is still there but it does not have the emotional stronghold that it once had. The memory doesn’t leave, but it doesn’t have a grip on the person any longer.
The brain tends to cluster similar experiences, including traumas. When a therapist and the client decide on the traumatic event that they want to work on, by clearing that one trauma, the other ones seem to have much less impact on their lives, and thus clear much more quickly. Thereby negating the necessity of having to do EMDR on everything they’ve ever gone through. The therapists at Oceanside Malibu are trained to set-up a treatment plan so that emotions and experiences are not overwhelming, they are manageable. Facing trauma may be upsetting at the beginning, but it is not overwhelming and it is not more upsetting than the original event itself. No more upsetting than continuing to try to resist negative feelings by drinking and drugging.