Relationship PTSD Symptoms in Women

relationship ptsd

relationship ptsd


The term post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is one you may be familiar with in a general sense without understanding its implications. 

For example, we often think only military veterans can have PTSD. In reality, anyone can experience the symptoms. 

  • Traumatic events can be one-offs like a terrorist attack, sexual assault, or natural disaster. 
  • Trauma can also occur over time, as is the case with childhood abuse.
  • Another scenario where PTSD may occur is following a toxic relationship. Relationship PTSD can make it challenging to form genuine bonds in the future. Even if your past relationships didn’t involve domestic violence or physical assault, relationship PTSD could still occur.

Relationships that are distressing and cause you pain can have long-lasting effects on your mental and emotional well-being. These stressful events and painful memories can contribute to a wide range of mood symptoms. 

When you trust and love someone, and they criticize you or put you down or try to control and manipulate you, it’s not just painful at the moment it’s occurring. When you experience toxic or emotionally abusive relationships, it can influence your feelings of safety, self-worth, and self-confidence.

Once you end a toxic relationship, you may feel like its effects still trap you. You may experience constant reminders of the relationship, and that’s because you can’t just walk away from trauma.


What Is Relationship PTSD?

Generally, posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to lingering feelings of distress and fear after an event. Symptoms include flashbacks and avoidance and other similar symptoms that persist after the traumatic event ends.

  • When you experience an abusive relationship, you may end the abuse, but not the effects.
  • Mental health experts describe this situation as post-traumatic relationship syndrome or PTRS. A relatively new term, PTRS, occurs following the experience of trauma in an intimate relationship.
  • PTRS includes the arousal and intrusive signs of PTSD, but it doesn’t have the avoidance symptoms that are part of a PTSD diagnosis. 
  • PTRS is also described as an anxiety disorder occurring after the experience of abuse, physically, emotionally, or psychologically within the context of an intimate partner relationship.

When someone has PTSD, they might try to block out or avoid memories. The big difference with PTRS is that you continue to revisit and experience memories over and over again. With traumatization, it’s challenging to move forward and build healthy relationships with partners in the future.  

When you have PTRS, you’re fully aware of everything that happened since you can’t avoid memories and reminders of the relationship. You may try to deal with your emotional response since you can’t numb the distress.

You can experience PTRS without having any threat of physical harm. Symptoms can include horror, rage, and fear.


Causes of PTRS

Direct causes of post-traumatic relationship stress can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, including sexual coercion, or emotional abuse. Emotional abuse includes manipulation, gaslighting, and control.

Indicators of a toxic dynamic can cause PTRS, such as silent treatment or ignoring you. When a partner is unfaithful, this can also lead to PTRS. Cheating is known as betrayal trauma, although it’s not on its abuse.



What Are the Long-Term Effects of Relationship PTSD?

When you don’t receive help, relationship PTSD tends to be progressive, getting worse over time. 

  • You may feel isolated because you feel you cannot share what you went through with other people.
  • You may have an ongoing fear of more trauma, making it difficult to relax or practice self-care. 
  • When you’re constantly feeling stressed and aren’t engaging in self-care, you may experience burnout and physical symptoms. 
  • After you experience PTSD from a romantic relationship, you might feel unsafe in the world in general, and you can’t feel safe with anyone around you. 
  • Some people also blame themselves for what they went through, leading to feelings of unworthiness and guilt.
  • You could avoid relationships altogether, including ones that are healthy and nurturing.


PTSD Symptoms in Women

PTSD symptoms in women are similar to PTRS symptoms, with a few exceptions. In general, PTSD symptoms in women can include:

  • Avoidance of reminders of the trauma. Avoidance in PTSD tends to be more common in women than men. Avoidance includes emotional avoidance and behavioral avoidance. Behavioral avoidance means avoiding the people, places, things, or other environmental triggers that remind you of trauma. In women, avoidance is one of the most common PTSD symptoms.
  • Hyperarousal is a term that refers to having a heightened state of anxiety. Hyperarousal symptoms include excessive startle reflex, problems with concentration, irritability, panic attacks, and hypervigilance.
  • Re-experiencing the trauma is a common symptom in trauma survivors. You might have intrusive, unwanted thoughts and memories related to the trauma, nightmares, or flashbacks. Women tend to experience this more than men.
  • Emotional numbness is the symptom of PTSD that tends to be much less common in PTRS. Emotional numbness means you lack emotion, lose interest, and feel detached from other people. You may also experience social isolation as a result.


Why Do Women Experience Symptoms of PTSD Differently Than Men?

One theory why women might experience PTSD differently than men is that women are more likely to internalize things, meaning more internalizing disorders like depression and anxiety.

On the other hand, men are more likely to develop externalizing disorders, like substance abuse or have angry outbursts. 

Many women may wait longer to get treatment or not get it at all.


Relationship PTSD Symptoms

While there is some overlap, some of the most common signs of PTSD stemming from a relationship include:

  • Constantly feeling on-edge: We talked about this above, but in the particular context of a relationship, you may constantly worry about a future romantic partner ridiculing you or starting a fight with you. You may be overly aware of triggers that could lead to situations similar to your past trauma.
  • Overreaction: If you experienced past trauma in a relationship or always felt like you were walking on eggshells, that could make you hypercritical of your current partner. If you notice yourself overreacting to little or unimportant things, you might reflect on why that’s happening. These can also be known as reactivity symptoms. 
  • Problems with communication: Following a relationship leading to trauma, you might be less willing to talk to a future partner about what you’re feeling. You may have a hard time letting your guard down or making decisions together.
  • Turning off your emotions: You might not let yourself feel positive emotions after you’ve gone through a relationship filled with negative ones.

So what can you do if you notice the signs of PTSD or, more specifically, relationship PTSD in yourself?

The best option is to seek help as soon as you can. PTSD, when left untreated, can not just negatively affect current and future relationships. Untreated PTSD or PTRS can lead to complications like substance use disorders and other mental disorders. 

Contact the team at Anchored Tides Recovery by calling 866-600-7709 to learn more about treatment options, such as cognitive processing therapy and exposure therapy. 

5 Drug Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

drug detox withdrawal symptoms

drug detox withdrawal symptoms


Drug addiction and drug dependence are two separate things. They’re often confused as being the same. While they often occur together, they’re different as far as the symptoms and the treatments.

Drug dependence is a physiological response to longer-term substance use. We’ll detail more about drug dependence and how this leads to drug detox withdrawal symptoms. We’ll also cover some of the common withdrawal symptoms people often experience.


What is Substance Dependence?

When you use certain substances like alcohol, opioids, or other psychoactive drugs, they affect your brain’s chemicals. Over time, substance use changes the function and structure of the brain. Your central nervous system also changes in response to the effects of the drugs. 

  • For example, your body, when you first take certain substances, your body releases a tremendous amount of dopamine. 
  • That dopamine is responsible for the euphoric high you can feel. 
  • The dopamine flood triggers a reward response in your brains’ circuits. 
  • Then, you might compulsively start to use the substance repeatedly because of the reward cycle.

There’s something else happening too. Your brain and central nervous system start to rely on the effects of a substance. 

  • The amount of dopamine, for example, that you naturally produce goes down because your body depends on the artificial creation the substance facilitates. 
  • As your brain and body gradually adjust to the presence of substances, the high you once felt dissipates. 
  • You might take more and more of the drug to try and chase that feeling. You’re no longer using drugs because of the high at that point. 
  • You’re using them because you’re addicted and physically dependent.

With physical dependence, stopping using the substance, whether alcohol or illegal drugs, can suddenly lead to withdrawal symptoms; withdrawal symptoms result from your body trying to normalize itself. Your body is going through a period of imbalance when you suddenly remove the substances it now depends on.

We can compare this to caffeine. If you’re a regular coffee drinker and skip it one morning, you may get a headache. This is a mild form of withdrawal following a lack of caffeine intake. 


What Affects Withdrawal Symptoms?

While withdrawal can have similar features, the detox process is also a variable experience.

Some of the factors that can influence withdrawal symptoms and the withdrawal process include:

  • The type of drug you use
  • The amount of time you use drugs
  • How much of the substance do you frequently use
  • Whether or not you combine multiple substances
  • Your overall physical health and any medical conditions you may have 
  • Underlying mental health conditions and your medical history 

If you use drugs that are pain relievers and central nervous system depressants, like opioids, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like pain hypersensitivity. If you’re going through withdrawal from benzodiazepines, which are for anxiety, you may have intense anxiety during withdrawal.

Typically when you’re going through withdrawal, there’s a paradoxical effect. A paradoxical effect means that the symptoms during that period are the opposite of the effects of the drug. They’re often more severe versions of the symptoms you might have started using the drug to treat or cope with.


Can You Die from Drug Detox Withdrawal Symptoms?

While it’s rare, certain substances with withdrawal symptoms can be deadly if you don’t get medical supervision. When drug detox and alcohol withdrawal symptoms are severe, some medications can help manage them.

Alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal are typically the two that can be most severe.

For example, severe alcohol withdrawal can lead to delirium tremens. Delirium tremens can lead to severe seizures and be deadly without medical management, but it’s rare.

Opioid withdrawal isn’t usually life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable and challenging. There are medications specifically to help with opioid overdose symptoms.



5 Common Withdrawal Symptoms

The most common drug detox and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be divided into five general categories. While the specifics vary depending on the person and the substance, these categories do give a general idea of what to expect.


Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Clammy skin
  • Tingles
  • Feeling cold
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Changes in appetite
  • Muscle pain and muscle aches  
  • Tremors
  • Changes in blood pressure 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heart rate or changes in heart rate 



Behavioral symptoms are the ones that influence how you interact with other people. You may feel frustrated, aggressive, or depressed, and these feelings can affect your reactions to others. Specific common withdrawal symptoms that are behavioral include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Frustration



Gastrointestinal symptoms are among the most common whether you’re withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. Your digestive system is complex and related to your central nervous system. When you have GI symptoms of withdrawal, it’s because of the response of this system to the lack of substances.

Your appetite is likely affected. Other GI symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping 
  • Diarrhea


Psychological Symptoms 

When you’re going through withdrawal, it’s going to affect your mood, mental health, and sense of well-being for some time. Common symptoms that are psychological include:

  • Nervousness
  • Hallucinations including visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Delirium
  • Brain fog and poor concentration
  • Problems with thinking and cognition


Sleep Disturbances

Finally, another category of withdrawal symptoms is sleep disturbance. You might sleep more or less than usual as your body is trying to regulate itself. Particular sleep symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleeplessness
  • Nightmares
  • Interrupted sleep patterns


The following are some more specific substances that lead to withdrawal and the length of time you might expect symptoms to last:

  • Alcohol: You won’t automatically have alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking. If you have an alcohol dependence, alcohol withdrawal syndrome symptoms can last for days or weeks. If you have symptoms on the severe spectrum of alcohol use disorders, the effects of withdrawal could continue for months after your initial alcohol detox. 
  • Heroin: Heroin is an opioid. Withdrawal symptoms can be intense but not usually deadly. These symptoms for most people last five to seven days and then start to get better. Medication-assisted treatment can be beneficial for physical dependency on heroin in treating unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal and opioid use disorder. 
  • Stimulants: Stimulants are drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Mental symptoms of stimulant withdrawal can include dysphoria, which means a low, unhappy mood and dulled senses. Loss of interest, slow movements, and slow heart rate are also stimulant withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms usually peak within a week after the last dose of a stimulant.

Rarely, post-acute withdrawal (PAWS) symptoms may occur. PAWSs are symptoms that last for longer than two weeks. These symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, mood swings, and poor sleep. PAWS is manageable, usually with a combination of medication and therapy.


Treating Drug Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

While it can be scary to think about withdrawal and especially severe symptoms, treatments are available.

During a medically supervised detox program, health care providers can monitor you and provide you with different medications if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms. For example, there are medications help to treat particular symptoms of withdrawal. There are also FDA-approved medications specifically for withdrawal from opioids and alcohol.

You might simultaneously receive treatment for underlying mental disorders, including behavioral therapies, reducing the likelihood that you have PAWS. 

Getting through detox isn’t easy, but medical care, it increases the chances that you do so successfully to be on the path to recovery. If you’d like to learn more about program options after you’ve completed detox, call 866-600-7709 and reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team.

Let’s Quit Abusing Drug Users

Abusing Drug Users

Abusing Drug Users



One of our biggest goals as addiction treatment specialists is to help women who come to us understand that they aren’t a failure because they struggle with drugs or alcohol. Women, in particular, tend to feel such a sense of shame surrounding their addiction. Addiction isn’t a moral failure, but if you let yourself get caught up in feelings of Abusing Drug Users, it’s only going to impede your recovery.

As a society, we should all learn more about addiction, its implications, and what it means for individuals who struggle with it. While there are wonderful, effective, evidence-based treatment options available, they aren’t taken advantage of as they should be.

Stigma and shame are two critical reasons for that.


How Shame Feeds Addiction

There are terms used to label people who struggle with addiction. Those terms and labels are a way to show negative judgment toward people. Using derogatory language when we talk about addiction dates back to when we didn’t know what we do now about the realities of addiction.

  • Addiction was a moral failure in the past. 
  • Being addicted was driven by a lack of willpower, or so people thought. 
  • Punishment was the primary means of rehabilitating people, which, as you can imagine, didn’t turn out to be a practical approach.
  • There was significant prejudice toward not only addiction but also mental health issues.

Now, based on decades of research and clinical studies, we see addiction for what it truly is—a chronic disease.

You wouldn’t shame someone for having heart disease or diabetes, yet some still feel all-too-comfortable shaming someone with a chronic brain disease, which is addiction.

Shame seems to be especially part of the addiction for women. 

  • You may feel like you hate yourself or are not worthy of love or the good things in life.
  • You could feel embarrassed or like your flaws are on display to the world. 
  • Then, that leads you to separate yourself more and more from other people and the world. 
  • This all becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, which is too prevalent in addiction.

You’re stuck in a cycle of shame and self-loathing, worsening and deepening your addiction.

Your loved ones may think shame can help push you into recovery. The reality is that shame is destructive in recovery.

When all of us take the time to learn more about addiction, we can combat barriers that prevent people from getting help.


Homelessness and Addiction

When we talk about judgment and derogatory language directed at people, we often see this in homeless populations. Homelessness is highly visible, yet people experiencing it feel like invisible outsiders. Isolation, vulnerability, and stigma are all elements of homelessness, much as is the case with addiction.

  • When you’re dealing with homelessness, it may prevent you from seeking help. 
  • You may feel too ashamed to enroll in services that could help you find housing or support. 
  • You could feel like if you go to public spaces, you’ll be ridiculed.

So what does homelessness have to do with addiction?

Aside from similar underlying factors contributing to both, there’s also a significant overlap between homelessness and Abusing Drug Users.

  • Homelessness often leads to substance abuse, but substance abuse can also contribute to homelessness. 
  • An estimated 38% of homeless people are dependent on alcohol, and 26% are dependent on other substances. 
  • Being homeless creates conditions that lead to extreme, severe trauma and stress.
  • Homeless people can experience violence, a lack of shelter, and starvation.
  • At least 33% of people who are homeless also have a mental illness. Mental health disorders are a significant contributor to substance abuse as well.

Homeless women experience distinctive gender-based trauma. The rate of mental illness is significantly higher in women than men. 

  • From 50% to 60% of homeless women suffer from mental health disorders, often before their homelessness. 
  • Many women become homeless after suffering trauma like violence or sexual abuse.
  • Some homeless women fled sex trafficking. 
  • Around one-third of homeless women reportedly abuse drugs like crack cocaine and heroin.


Dealing with the Stigma of Addiction

Currently, the stigma of addiction is the number one barrier to effective addiction treatment and recovery. When people do receive evidence-based treatment, the symptoms associated with the stigma of addiction tend to dissipate Abusing Drug Users.

Stigma can impact people in their families and social groups, and it’s also something we see at the community level. 

  • In families, while there may be an understanding that someone has an addiction, it could be whispered about or avoided altogether.
  • At the community or societal level, the stigma of addiction leads to under-diagnosis and under-treatment. 
  • There’s a lack of understanding often even in the medical community compared to other chronic health conditions.

This lack of understanding is unfortunate, considering addiction is one of the biggest public health problems we face in the United States.

Despite our many advances in understanding the science of addiction, the medical community isn’t well-educated on topics surrounding it.



What Are We Doing?

At our treatment center, in addition, to helping women on an individual level without shame but with compassion and scientific understanding, we’re also working on other ways of crushing the stigma of addiction.

We want to bring attention to the people in recovery and show that hope exists. You can recover from these chronic illnesses. You can be a productive part of your family and society. You can have an outstanding quality of life and be a great parent.

Our treatment specialists also want to think about how we diagnose substance use disorders and other mental health conditions. We don’t want to rely on old language or frameworks that could reinforce stigma of Abusing Drug Users.

For example, we often see that women dealing with trauma will quickly be labeled as having a borderline personality disorder. This diagnosis can have roots in the concept of hysteria, which was a label that women tended to receive much more so than men. 

By delving into the history of the treatment of women, in particular, as far as addiction and mental health, we can start to take our steps to combat how that’s led to shame and abuse for marginalized people.

With so many resources available, both in terms of state and community support services and effective treatment like our own programs, we hope to move addiction treatment forward. We hope that we’re part of a movement that encourages us to help one another rather than judge.

The team at Anchored Tides Recovery also wants to help facilitate wider recognition that addiction brain changes are often out of the individuals’ control. Medical care, interventions, and a strong support system are all needed to overcome addiction and prevent complications like an overdose; for help, call 866-600-7709.

The Importance of Exercise and Self-Care

Importance of Exercise

Importance of Exercise


Unfortunately, we often get wrapped up in the concept of exercise as something to do to lose weight or for vanity purposes. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to shed pounds or look your best, we also have to see that the importance of Exercise is truly the ultimate form of self-care.

Exercise is so much more than weight loss or calories. When we commit to regularly moving our bodies, we’re giving ourselves a gift that extends far beyond looking fit in whatever way we enjoy and that works for us.

Moving and getting regular physical activity means you’re prioritizing and valuing yourself and your well-being. It’s excellent for your physical and mental health, and we encourage you to find a routine that feels right to you.

The way you exercise doesn’t have to be what anyone tells you is right. Listen to your mind and your body, and find things that you genuinely enjoy, even if they push you outside your comfort zone or are challenging.


The Physical Benefits of Exercise

There are, of course, physical benefits of regular exercise, including:

  • You can maintain a healthy weight. When you exercise, you burn calories, which can help you maintain your current weight or lose weight. Any amount of activity is better than none, and that’s one of the biggest things to remember.
  • Regular exercise combats or reduces the risk of developing the most common chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. When you exercise regularly, it can help manage or prevent stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, and arthritis.
  • Exercise helps improve your cognitive function.
  • When you get exercise, it helps lower your risk of death from all causes.
  • If you’re low on energy, try moving your body a bit and see how you feel. Movement helps boost your physical strength and endurance. It also brings nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and promotes the more efficient functioning of your cardiovascular system.
  • Are you struggling to sleep at night? Physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better quality sleep and enjoy a deeper sleep.
  • There are sexual benefits of exercise. When you work out or move your body, it can improve your confidence and energy levels, benefiting your sex life.
  • You can make it a social activity to exercise by taking a group class or finding someone to walk with.

Your ideal goal should be to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. If you can’t do this right away and you’re new to exercising, that’s okay. Again, do what you can, and something is always better than nothing.

Strength training can also be an important part of staying mentally and physically strong and healthy when you’re ready.



The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

We encourage you to exercise for your mental health as much if not more than your physical health, although the two do work together. Exercise can help you if you’re in substance abuse recovery, and it can also help you deal with the symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, and more.

When you exercise regularly, you’ll feel more positive about yourself in general and improve your well-being.


Exercise and Depression

Studies indicate exercising can help with mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. For example, a study conducted at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found running five minutes a day or walking for an hour lowers the risk of major depression by 26%.

If you receive treatment for depression, adding an exercise schedule to your routine can help you prevent a relapse.

When you’re exercising, it’s creating powerful effects in your brain. Exercise promotes neural growth, reduces inflammation, and develops activity patterns promoting a sense of well-being and calm. 

Endorphins release into your brain, making you feel generally good. You can also break negative thought patterns by distracting yourself with exercise.



A natural, effective anti-anxiety treatment exercise helps relieve the effects of stress and tension. Again, since your body is releasing endorphins, it makes you feel good. You can also get out of your head when you exercise, which can be vital for dealing with anxiety.

When you exercise, try and integrate elements of mindfulness into it too. For example, if you walk outside, notice the things you hear and see around you.


Trauma and PTSD

As you exercise, it helps alleviate the being “stuck” feeling you may have, common with a history of trauma or PTSD. You can get unstuck so that you can then begin to move forward and have reduced PTSD symptoms.


Addiction Recovery

As you exercise during your early days of addiction recovery, it can activate your reward pathway in a natural, healthy way. That reward pathway changes with substance abuse, but exercising can help it re-learn how to function without drugs or alcohol. Since exercise triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin, you’ll feel better. 

Some of the specific ways exercise can help in addiction recovery include:

  • Physical activity may help with symptoms of withdrawal like depression, anxiety, and stress. These are withdrawal symptoms that can otherwise contribute to relapse.
  • Exercise can help distract you from cravings.
  • You can replace your triggers with an exercise routine.
  • It’s prevalent, especially in the early days of detox and recovery, to have sleep problems. Exercise can help you get more high-quality rest.
  • Shame or self-doubt can be part of the aftermath of addiction, but exercising can help raise your self-esteem and also help you have more belief in yourself and your abilities.


Other Benefits of Exercise For Your Mental Health

Other benefits you can experience when you exercise include:

  • Your memory and thinking will be sharper and clearer since it stimulates new brain cells.
  • You’re investing in yourself when you’re exercising, which can help you feel powerful.
  • Resilience is something we talk about a lot in addiction treatment. Exercise is a great way to build on your resilience skills and prepare you to face mental challenges in your life in a healthy, productive way.


Commit to Self-Care

We encourage you to commit to caring for yourself. Let go of what might hold you back from exercising, such as guilt that you’re not dedicating that time to other things or intimidation. The first step is the hardest, but you’re already showing yourself that you are worth the time and the commitment to get more active once you do that. For help living a healthy life after drugs and alcohol, call 866-600-7709 and let the team at Anchored Tides Recovery be part of your support squad!

What is Addiction?

what is addiction

what is addiction


Addiction is widely misunderstood, even though it touches so many of us, whether it be directly or indirectly. When you have an addiction, your brain experiences a chronic dysfunction in reward, motivation, and memory systems. 

Your body begins to crave a specific substance or even a behavior because of these brain changes. Despite the harmful consequences, you continue to use addictive drugs. 

As much as understanding what addiction is can be helpful, it’s also important to know what it’s not. For example, addiction isn’t a choice, nor is it a moral failure.


An Overview of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disorder that affects someone’s brain and behavior. When you have an addiction, you can’t stop using a substance such as drugs or alcohol or engaging in behavior like gambling, even though it’s causing harm in your life.

According to The American Society of Addiction Medicine, it’s a chronic medical disease involving complex interactions between your brain, genetics, your environment, and your life experiences. While addictive disorders are a chronic condition that doesn’t necessarily have a “cure,” it is treatable. You can manage the symptoms.

If you have a chronic disease like diabetes, the concept is similar. You may not be able to cure the underlying condition, but it’s manageable with different therapies, medications, and lifestyle changes. When your symptoms are under control from a chronic illness, it’s known as being in remission.

When you have a substance use disorder that’s well-managed and not active, you’re in recovery.  

Some of the most addictive substances and illicit drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine


Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction tends to create symptoms that fall into one of three broader categories. There are cravings, loss of control, and continuing to use the substance despite adverse consequences.

Physical signs of addiction can vary depending on the substance used but may include:

  • Being under- or overactive
  • Repetitive or unusual speech patterns
  • Dilated pupils
  • Red eyes
  • Pale skin
  • Sniffly or runny nose
  • Clothes aren’t fitting the same
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Lack of personal hygiene

Behavioral addiction signs can include:

  • Irritability or defensiveness
  • Problems coping with stress
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Changes in social groups or social withdrawal
  • Confused easily
  • Justification for behavior
  • Minimization
  • Blaming other people or events for substance use or effects
  • Diversion, meaning often changing the subject to avoid talking about substance use
  • Missing school or work
  • Declining performance at school or work
  • Isolation or being secretive
  • Legal or financial problems
  • Relationship problems


What Causes Addiction?

We’ve learned so much since the 1930s when researchers first started looking at the causes of addictive behavior. Before this research, the old way of thinking was that if you had an addiction, you didn’t have the willpower, or you were morally flawed. That incorrect thinking led to ineffective treatment approaches to dealing with addiction.

For example, punishment or trying to force someone to break their habits were common strategies.

Now, scientific advancements help us understand again, addiction is a chronic disease altering the brain, one of our most important organs. Like cardiovascular disease affects your heart, addiction takes over your brain.

Research guides addiction treatment programs and mental health treatment for co-occurring disorders in practical ways. 

Some of the steps that can occur in the development of addiction include:

  • Your brain registers pleasure as something it wants to seek out and continue to experience. Pleasure can come from natural sources, such as sex or having a great meal. Pleasure can also stem from the effects of psychoactive drugs and alcohol.
  • When you experience something pleasurable, your brain releases a neurotransmitter—dopamine. Dopamine floods into your brain’s pleasure and reward center—the nucleus accumbens.
  • Since the use of drugs or alcohol can be a dopamine-triggering event, there’s a compulsion for your brain to want to continue it.
  • It’s not only the pleasure element that can lead to addiction. Dopamine is one part of the process, but so are learning and memory. Learning and memory play pivotal roles in moving from thinking something is appealing to developing an addiction.
  • Repeated exposure to an addictive substance causes nerve cells in not only your nucleus accumbens but also the prefrontal cortex to communicate in a way that makes you want to continue it. You have a sense of motivation to keep seeking out pleasurable stimuli.
  • Eventually, compulsion will take over. The pleasure you associate with an addictive substance goes away, but you still have the memory of the desired effect. You keep wanting to recreate it. Compulsion leads to out control cravings but is drug addiction a moral failing?

Certain factors such as a family history of addiction can make you more likely to develop a substance use disorder. Mental health issues can also raise the risk of drug misuse and substance abuse issues. 



Are There Treatments for Addiction?

Substance abuse treatment is available, although it’s not always straightforward. The goals of any treatment for drug or alcohol addiction are to help you stop using drugs, remain drug-free, and be productive in your family, at your job, and in society.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, evidence-based addiction treatment should include the following:

  • Addiction is managed as a complex although treatable disease affecting behavior and brain function
  • There’s no single treatment that’s right for everyone
  • You need easy and timely access to treatment 
  • Effective treatment addresses all of your needs as a whole person, and not just your drug or alcohol use
  • You must stay in treatment for long enough
  • Behavioral therapy and counseling are the most commonly used types of treatment
  • Medications can be an essential part of treatment, particularly combined with behavioral therapy
  • A counselor should regularly review your kind of treatment plan and, if necessary, change to fit your evolving needs
  • Effective addiction treatment should address other co-occurring mental disorders you may have
  • Medically-assisted detoxification isn’t treatment in and of itself—it’s the first stage of treatment
  • Your drug addiction treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary for it to be effective
  • Effective alcohol rehab or drug treatment should address criminal behavior, infectious disease, or other related situations. 

Treatment can take place in different formats and settings for a substance use disorder. For example, there are inpatient and outpatient programs available at treatment facilities. An inpatient program is more intensive and requires a residential stay. Outpatient treatment can be a lower level of care after inpatient rehab. You might also begin your treatment there. 


Does Health Insurance Cover Addiction Treatment?

Since a substance use disorder is a medical condition, in many cases, your health insurance company will cover some or all of the costs of addiction treatment, including medication-assisted treatment. In 2010 with the passing of the Affordable Care Act (2010), a mandate required that insurance companies and insurance plans cover the same level of coverage for addiction treatment and mental health disorders as they do for other medical conditions.

If you aren’t sure what your insurance will cover as far as addiction treatment providers and essential health benefits, the best thing you can do is contact them directly. They can let you know your health coverage and the treatment options available to you. The team at our treatment center can also help you with insurance-related questions as they specifically apply to our center.

The big takeaway that you should remember is that addiction is a chronic and also progressive disease. Untreated, it will get worse and cause more severe side effects. Effective treatments are available, however, and are accessible to you. Insurance policies will often cover the cost of treatment, including inpatient rehab. To learn more about the women-only outpatient treatment program at Anchored Tides Recovery, call 866-600-7709 today!

Resiliency: You Are Strong, Not Broken




When you’re a woman battling addiction, you may feel broken, weak, or burdened by shame. None of those things are the reality, and reframing your perspective about yourself and your strength is ultimately what will fuel your recovery.

We encourage women in our program to see everything they’ve gone through and survived to the point of getting treatment as strength, not weakness. Even admitting that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol is a show of strength and not a failing. 

When you participate in our rehab program, you learn to recognize that everything you’re doing indicates your resilience, not the sum of your failures.


Female Addiction and Trauma

If you feel broken rather than strong and resilient, understand that female addiction links to trauma. Over the past few decades, we’re increasingly learning that women who abuse drugs or alcohol are often victims of distressing events.

The impact of trauma lingers long after the event itself.

  • The scientific and research communities are just starting to grasp how much traumatic experiences contribute to women’s mental and physical health issues. 
  • Research shows us that most women with addictions have gone through abuse or trauma at some point in their lives—at much higher rates than men. 
  • For example, 74% of addicted women report sexual abuse experiences. 
  • Women with traumatic childhoods are five times more likely to use drugs. 
  • They’re twice as likely to abuse alcohol compared to women who didn’t experience trauma.

Women experiencing trauma tend to develop deep, destructive wounds that become part of who they are.

If those things sound familiar to you, realize that you’ve gone through these things, and yet you’ve made it to this point. You are already showing resiliency, despite your struggles with drugs and alcohol. Recognizing your trauma can help you begin to heal.


Shame and Addiction

Shame, trauma, and addiction are often tightly interwoven with one another. Shame is a natural experience everyone sometimes has, but shame may be one of the main things you regularly feel in addiction. When you feel shame, you lose touch with who you are and the people who love and care about you.

  • Feeling like you aren’t worthy of love, happiness or respect feeds addiction and worsens mental health problems like depression.
  • Eliminating your feelings of shame is critical to getting help for your addiction and taking yourself out of the cycle. 
  • Shame and addiction imprison you, but in a safe environment where you’re comfortable being vulnerable, you can begin to work through these.
  • In an addiction treatment program, you learn to identify your shame, and in doing so, you’re better able to stop feeding it. 
  • You learn acceptance for yourself and understand that no one is perfect, but you can put your energy toward being the best version of yourself.

Treatment is also a way to begin redefining your self-worth.


What is Resilience?

Resilience is a term referring to your ability to recover from difficult or traumatic events in your life. You can stand strong in the face of adversity, no matter the adverse circumstances occurring in life.

  • If you’re in active addiction, but you’ve decided to take the step to get help, that is in and of itself resilience.
  • Resilience isn’t a straight line. There will be bumps along the way and setbacks, but eventually, when you realize that resilience is part of who you are, you’ll get to the peak of where you want to go and be able to look back at how far you came in your journey.
  • Being resilient doesn’t mean you’re always mentally tough, nor does it mean you don’t feel stressed, upset, or suffering. Instead, resilience means you’re able to work through the pain and suffering you experience.
  • Resilience isn’t an inherent or fixed trait either. It’s something you work to develop.


Developing Resilience

To develop resilience requires a combination of internal factors that are personal to you and outside resources. In the context of addiction, you’ve already shown resilience, making it through the parts of your life that have been challenging. Then, once you begin treatment, you further develop your strength with what you learn there.

For example, you can learn coping mechanisms to help you go forward outside of substances. You can tap into outside resources such as therapists or participation in support groups. You can learn how to avoid triggers when they occur.

Protective factors that can help you in your journey to build resilience include:

  • Social support—we need to learn to rely on our support network in times of trauma or difficulty. Our support network can be whatever works for us. It can be your 12-step group, your friends, your family, or organizations.
  • Planning—at our treatment center, we focus a lot on this element of building resiliency. Planning means that you set goals for yourself, visualize how to meet them, and then do it. When planning for resilience, you always want to think about different scenarios proactively and create strategies for dealing with them ahead of time.
  • Self-esteem—Unfortunately, there’s often a deep sense of shame for women with addictions to drugs or alcohol. By building resilience, you can start to tear away at this shame and rebuild with confidence and a positive view of yourself.
  • Coping skills—In active addiction, you turn to drugs or alcohol rather than relying on healthy coping mechanisms. On your resilience journey, you can begin to learn the healthy coping skills that work for you. The more you practice these skills, the more they become wired into your brain and replace the old, unhealthy habits.
  • Communication—This is part of resilience because you need to share with others what you feel so that you can seek support, gain access to resources and ultimately take action when you need to.
  • Regulating emotions—When you’re experiencing overwhelming emotions, achieving resilience means that you can work through them positively.

When you lack resilience, you’re more likely to move back into those unhealthy coping strategies or feel helpless and overwhelmed.



Taking the First Step

It sounds cliché, but honestly, taking the first step by coming to terms with your addiction and seeking help is the most powerful thing you can do. In doing so, you’re already showcasing your resilience and strength. You’re also committing to continue cultivating that resilience. You’ve come this far, and we encourage you to contact us about rehab to learn how much more you can achieve and accomplish.

The goal at Anchored Tides Recovery isn’t just to get you to the point of sobriety. It’s to help you achieve your full potential in every way, so you’re prepared for anything as you rebuild your life and meet your goals in all areas. Call 866-600-7709 to learn more about our women-only outpatient program today!

How to Identify Toxic Positivity

toxic positivity

Toxic positivity is incredibly damaging to your mental health when it’s happening around you. The detrimental effects are why learning how to identify toxic positivity can help you protect yourself. We encourage you to delve into how to identify and avoid toxic positivity so that you can maintain your mental health.

You never want to feel like your experiences are minimized, nor do you want to have to pretend you feel a certain way to make other people feel comfortable.

Some real risks and dangers come with toxic positivity, and this can be especially true if you’re dealing with mental health issues or are in addiction recovery.


Understanding Toxic Positivity

Being positive can be a great thing in appropriate situations. So how do we know when it becomes toxic or harmful?

  • For many of us, it’s almost counterintuitive to hear the words “toxic” and “positivity” used together. For decades, the media, books, movies, and New Age thinking have led us to believe that positive thinking is most important.
  • Positive thinking can indeed improve your mental health. For example, when you think positively about the world, it can help improve your self-esteem and reduce suicidal thoughts.
  • At the same time, we have to understand that positive thinking isn’t a cure for everything, nor does it solve all of your challenges. 
  • You also aren’t always going to experience positive emotions. 
  • That doesn’t mean we can’t be overall positive people, but we need an authentic experience and the opportunity to recognize negative experiences and bad emotions. 

When positivity becomes toxic, there’s a demand placed on you to resort to that as the solution to every problem. You feel backed into a positivity corner where you can’t think negatively or express negative emotions. Even so, negative emotions are a genuine part of who we are and the human experience. 

Positive thinking means that you try to have an optimistic outlook on life. Positive thinking crosses into the realm of toxicity when you are silencing your real feelings or when you aren’t seeking help or support for difficult emotions. 


Is It Bad to Be Negative?

It’s so ingrained in us, particularly as women, to avoid being negative or having negative feelings at all costs. We’re supposed to put on a happy face no matter the situation or what we’re experiencing. That’s how we make the people around us feel comfortable, and we learn that by putting on that happy face, we’re essentially faking it until we make it.

  • That can be harmful because we are humans with a complex range of emotions. 
  • Being comfortable with uncomfortable feelings or challenging situations is vital for our mental health and well-being. For example, if you’re experiencing sadness because of grief, that’s normal and healthy. 
  • Toxic positivity might push you to try and conceal your grief and sadness, which can lead you to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

There are times when we need to talk about our human emotions and express them to work through them effectively. 

  • Research finds that vocalizing what we’re sometimes feeling like part of our inevitably imperfect life makes our unpleasant feelings less powerful. 
  • You can feel less trapped by your emotional experience when you speak about them.
  • Researchers also find that talking about all your true feelings, including the negative ones, can help your brain process what you’re feeling. 
  • In one study, labeling and talking about emotions reduced the pathways in the brain associated with them. That reduction of the brain pathways helps make painful or unpleasant emotions less overpowering than emotional suppression, which may have the opposite effect. 

While positivity and changing your mindset can be fantastic for your psychological health, there’s an extreme happening with toxic positivity.



What Are the Risks of Toxic Positivity?

There is actual harm that can happen when positivity goes overboard.

For example, it’s shaming. When you’re going through complicated feelings, you need your emotions validated. You need to be able to turn to the people you love and who love you for support. When you find that you’re being told your feelings aren’t valid, then you’re simultaneously being told that they aren’t acceptable. 

That creates shame. Shame can worsen negative cycles and patterns in your life.

  • You may experience feelings of loneliness or feelings of sadness when you’re surrounded by toxic positivity. 
  • Another harm of too much positivity is that it creates guilt. The idea becomes that if you can’t feel good and positive, no matter what’s happening around you, you aren’t doing something right.
  • Toxic positivity becomes an avoidance strategy and an example of an unhealthy coping mechanism. You aren’t facing your emotions, but you’re instead internalizing them and dealing with the fallout of repressed emotions. 

When you can’t confront challenges or authentic emotions, you’re stunting your spiritual and emotional growth.


Toxic Positive Examples

Some of the specific things you might see that indicate an issue with positivity include:

  • When you speak about how you feel, someone tells you it could be worse.
  • You’re told at least you’re lucky you have what you do.
  • Someone tells you to focus on the positive after you experience something traumatic.
  • Being told everything happens for a reason.
  • Calling those people who always appear happy or positive as brave or strong.

Signs that you might be engaging in the positivity that’s toxic include:

  • You prefer to avoid your problems.
  • You feel guilty when you experience negative emotions like sadness.
  • Regularly sharing feel-good quotes and mantras to appear more socially acceptable.
  • Minimize your own and other people’s feelings because they’re uncomfortable with you.
  • Feeling like being emotionally strong no matter what is something to be proud of.


How to Avoid Toxic Positivity

Whether you recognize certain behaviors in yourself, or you’ve experienced them through your interactions with others, remember the following:

  • Work on managing rather than denying negative feelings and emotions. No, learning how to avoid toxic positivity doesn’t mean you dwell on negative things, but you should recognize what you’re feeling, label it and then move on from there.
  • Be realistic about what you should feel, and work to identify what a typical timeframe is to feel certain things. For example, if you lose a loved one, it’s perfectly normal to work through a rather lengthy period of grief.
  • You can feel multiple things at one time. For example, sometimes negative feelings like anxiety or apprehension can occur with something great in life, like a new opportunity. We’re complex, and so are our feelings, and we don’t have to be boxed into one emotion.
  • If someone comes to you and wants to share something difficult for them, while you may be trying to help with your best intentions, don’t try to tell them that it’s all going to be okay, or they should look for the silver lining. Instead, be a sympathetic listener.

Finally, be mindful of how you’re feeling, especially when you’re engaging with inspirational content. Instagram is notorious for being a platform for toxic positivity. 

Sometimes, we can see this content as being motivational and uplifting, which is great.

You do need to hone in on what you feel after you view this content, however. Are you feeling guilty or ashamed, for example? If so, you might need to reconsider following that account or maybe limit your social media consumption in general.

The idea of toxic positivity is never to discount the value of a positive outlook or thinking. Instead, we must learn that it’s okay to feel even complex emotions, which are real, valid experiences. If you’re looking for more support and the right kind of positivity to help you with your recovery, call 866-600-7709 and contact the team at Anchored Tides Recovery. Take the first steps towards your new life. 

Just for Today: Overcoming Cravings One Day at a Time

overcoming cravings

overcoming cravings


Overcoming cravings are one of the most challenging parts of addiction recovery, especially in the early days. Cravings can be a mental and physical response to no longer using drugs or alcohol. Cravings are incredibly intense during the detox and withdrawal period, but they can persist long after.

  • The sensation of craving isn’t exclusive to drugs and alcohol. These urges to do something are part of everyday life for everyone.
  • For example, you might crave a particular food. Under normal circumstances, it might not be a big deal, but if you’re trying to lose weight, that craving can be problematic and keep you from achieving your goals.
  • With cravings, it’s important to recognize they’re going to happen and identify strategies for dealing with them when they do. 
  • Coping with these urges is one of the big things you learn during rehab.

Physical craving is where you have a physical response to wanting drugs or alcohol. 

  • Physical cravings are part of withdrawal, and those cravings will eventually lessen as you go deeper into your recovery. 
  • Mental cravings are emotional, and they can take longer to subside. 
  • Mental cravings might lead you to fixate on the thought of using drugs or alcohol, or you can get the idea in your head that you need the substance right away.

You can deal with both by learning positive coping mechanisms and remembering to take it one day at a time. Taking it one day at a time is good for overcoming cravings and dealing with other challenges you might encounter in your recovery.


One Day at a Time in Addiction Recovery

Not just cravings, but your full recovery may be built on the concept of taking it one day at a time, but what does that really mean? 

One-day-at-a-time is a phrase you’ll hear in 12-step programs and recovery circles, but the reality is that it’s sage advice no matter what your situation.

As far as the 12-step model, Alcoholics Anonymous Bill Wilson once said:

“On a day-at-a-time basis, I am confident I can stay away from a drink for one day. So I set out with confidence. At the end of the day, I have the reward of achievement. Achievement feels good and  makes me want more.”

  • Taking things one day at a time helps us let go of the past, and perhaps guilt or shame we might feel from that. 
  • We can also stop feeling anxiety for the future and plant ourselves firmly at the moment.
  • Mindfulness and being in the moment is something you’ll work on a lot in addiction treatment.
  • Being mindful and living in the present is something many people aspire to, even when they aren’t struggling with addiction.

Often, when you’re in recovery, and especially at the start, you may feel apprehensive. It can be a considerable undertaking to think about a lifetime of sobriety and what that will look like. Rather than thinking that way, which may be overwhelming, just think that you have to stay sober today. That’s all you have to manage at this moment.

There’s something in AA called the 24-hour plan. Rather than swearing off drugs or alcohol for your entire life, you concentrate on the 24 hours you’re presently in. If you have a craving or an urge, you’re not resisting or yielding. You’re just putting it off until tomorrow, at which point you’ll deal with those 24 hours.

You only worry about today, and there’s a power in that. You eventually learn over time that you can manage those cravings for much longer than 24 hours.


Why Is It Important to Stay Present?

Even outside of a coping mechanism for cravings, staying in the present is valuable in your life.

  • When you’re in the present, you can reduce your stress and improve your focus. 
  • You can build emotional resilience, and you can find what inspires you. 
  • Staying present helps you begin to rebuild strong emotional connections with the people around you and spend meaningful time with loved ones.

Many people find when they practice mindfulness, they’re able to stop being a bystander in their life and become connected with everything around them. In recovery, that’s so valuable. Being present is great for mental health and spiritual wellness.



Strategies for Dealing with Cravings

While being present and taking it one day at a time is one way to deal with cravings, there are other strategies you can include in your life while overcoming cravings.

Something you’ll work on in your treatment program is learning your triggers. Your triggers can be anything—people, places, or things. These triggers make you want to drink or use drugs.

Triggers can often fall into one of four general categories.

  • Pattern—these are the things and places that make you want to use again, and they can also include significant events, the time of day, or the season.
  • Social—social triggers involve one person or a group of people you associate with drinking or drug use.
  • Emotional—whether it’s sadness, anger, anxiety, or happiness, there may be emotional triggers that contribute to cravings when you feel a certain way.
  • Withdrawal—this is something we talked about above, and withdrawal cravings are a physiological response as your body tries to regain a sense of normalcy without the presence of substances.

You can work on identifying and uncovering triggers so that you can avoid them if possible. If you can’t avoid them, you can proactively have strategies in mind about how you’ll deal with them when they occur.

Tips for dealing with triggers and cravings that are also in line with mindfulness and taking things one day at a time include:

  • Avoidance. As mentioned, for some people and some triggers, avoidance can work. For example, you may find a new social group after rehab to avoid people you associate with using drugs or alcohol.
  • Maintain healthy behaviors. Focusing on eating well, exercising, and getting rest can help you avoid cravings and deal with triggers. You’re filling your time and your mental space with other priorities.
  • Find things you enjoy. Maybe you learn an instrument, practice yoga, or start painting.
  • Regularly practice meditation and relaxation exercises. If you’re feeling the pull of a craving, sit down and do a meditation, even just for five minutes. This will bring you back to the present and help you regain a sense of control.
  • Attend support group meetings.
  • Change how you think about cravings. Sometimes people will panic when they experience a craving. You might feel out of control. Work to know that craving is something you can ride out like a wave. Retain or regain control of how you view it. Speak optimistic empowering statements out loud if that helps you. Remember that all cravings end.
  • Track how you’re feeling with a journal.
  • Rely on your relapse prevention plan. When you’re in treatment, you can work with your care providers on a concrete strategy.

Approaching your battles “Just for today” might be some of the best advice you can put into practice in your recovery to manage cravings. If you’d like to learn more techniques for a successful recovery from addiction, call 866-600-7709 to talk to the team at Anchored Tides Recovery; we’re here to talk and answer questions that you may have. 

Coping with Substance Abuse Disorder During the Holidays

substance abuse

substance abuse


It is tough to be around situations that are triggering and remind you of obstacles you struggle with. Even though sober people can find it challenging to be around alcohol, especially in abundance at holiday events, absolute self-control is an annual test for people in recovery.

Drinking plays a role in many holiday festivities, from wine with dinner on Thanksgiving to champagne when toasting the new year; alcohol plays a huge part in the holiday season. Some individuals can drink moderately at festive functions; others engage in heavy drinking that strays into abuse more often than not.


Substance Abuse & Addiction

It is essential to know how substance abuse differs from addiction; Addiction is something you cannot easily let go of despite damaging your physical health, mental health, and social life. Whereas many people with substance abuse issues can quit relatively quickly or they can change their unhealthy behavior.

Substance abuse for mood-altering purposes may simply be described as a pattern of harmful use of any substance. ‘Substances’ can include alcohol and other drugs, as well as certain substances that are not drugs at all, and whether or not they are illegal does not matter.

“Abuse” can result because you use a drug in a manner that is not intended or recommended or because you use more than prescribed. To be precise, someone can use drugs and not be addicted or even have a drug use problem.

Generally, when individuals talk about substance abuse, they usually refer to illicit substances. Abusive drugs do more than changing the mood. They can confuse your judgment, distort your perceptions, and change your response times, all of which can put you at risk of accident and injury. Still, you continue to take the drugs because of the rush of dopamine and the worldliness you experience.

In the first place, these medications have been illegal because they are potentially addictive or may cause significant adverse health effects. Some claim that the use of illicit drugs is considered unsafe and, therefore, violent.


5 Causes of Substance Abuse:

Although there is no clear-cut specific answer as to what causes your addiction to substance abuse, it is possible that the origin of the addiction starts or speeds up because of the points given below:


1. Family history of addiction.

 Drug addiction is more common in some families and mainly involves troublesome genes.


2. Mental health disorder.

Having a mental health disorder can also play a role in leading an individual to substance abuse.


3. Peer pressure.

Peer pressure plays a significant role in substance abuse and can be very dangerous if not detected early.


4. Early use.

Early use can also lead to addiction from substance abuse.


5. Taking a highly addictive drug.  

Taking a highly addictive drug or prescription drug can often lead to addiction or substance abuse as well.



How can you Stop Substance Abuse?

Overcoming substance abuse or drug addiction can be a time-consuming and challenging process, but never impossible.

For many people struggling with addiction, the most challenging step toward recovery is the very first one: recognizing that you have a problem and deciding to make a change. It is entirely normal to feel unsure about whether you’re ready to go down the road to recovery or if you have what it takes to quit your addiction. You may be worrying about how you can find an alternative way to handle a mental condition if you are addicted to prescription medication. It’s all right to feel distressed. Committing to sobriety means changing several aspects, like how you cope with tension, who you allow in your life, what you do in your spare time, how you think of yourself, and how you take over-the-counter medications.

And when you know it is causing issues in your life, it’s still natural to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice. Recovery takes time, encouragement, and support, but you can conquer your addiction and regain control of your life by committing to change.


Substance Abuse Treatment

Addiction treatment is a variable plan and not a one-size-fits-all treatment. Treatments always vary based on what you need and what will help you treat the fastest and best. You can also choose the treatment that works best for you based on the substance you’re abusing, the level of care you need, your personal needs for mental health, or what options for health care you can afford. 

Some of the most common addiction treatments that have set patients on a successful path to recovery include detoxification, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), rational emotive behavior therapy, contingency management, the all-famous 12-step facilitation, and treatment medication. For questions or assistance staying sober through the holidays, call Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709.

Childhood Trauma and Addiction: Codependent Issues

childhood trauma

childhood trauma


The vast majority of women with a substance use disorder have a history of childhood trauma, unfortunately, and exposure to traumatic experiences. Childhood trauma can take different forms. For example, both physical abuse and sexual abuse are examples, but so are things like neglect. Understanding the impacts of childhood trauma on current addiction in women is something we work hard to prioritize in our programs.

Without taking a trauma-informed approach, we don’t feel like you’re genuinely getting effective, evidence-based care.

We also find that the way we talk about addiction in women as society tends not to take trauma into account. Traditional addiction treatment doesn’t consider the differences in how men and women process and cope with trauma either, creating a void for women in their care.

One specific example is a borderline personality disorder. We often see women diagnosed with this mental health condition but with no understanding of the context of their past trauma exposure. Women are much more likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder than men, yet the symptoms could relate to processing different types of childhood traumas. 


What Is Trauma?

Traumatic exposures and events have the potential to shape who we will all become. You can experience trauma in childhood or adulthood. Regardless, this exposure can change how you see not just the world around you but also yourself. The effects of childhood trauma can be far-reaching. 

Examples of types of trauma include:

  • Physical abuse, assault, or violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Domestic violence
  • Community violence
  • Verbal or emotional abuse
  • Neglect by parents or caretakers
  • Bullying
  • Natural disasters
  • Accidents 
  • Terminal illnesses

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive because when you survive anything where you feel your life is in danger or experience extreme distress, it can lead to a trauma response and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Signs of having traumatic adverse childhood experiences and trauma symptoms include:

  • Dramatic shifts in mood
  • Erratic behaviors
  • Excessive emotional displays
  • Having an anxiety disorder 
  • High levels of nervousness 
  • Irritability and agitation that’s more or less constant
  • A lack of confidence
  • Developing eating disorders
  • Avoiding things that remind you of the trauma
  • Reliving the traumatic event
  • Problems relating to others
  • Issues with interpersonal relationships 
  • Suicidal ideation 

When you experience trauma, particularly in childhood, since who you are is being shaped during this time, it puts you at a very high risk of developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Trauma exposure in childhood can create long-term mental health issues such as posttraumatic stress disorder and anxiety. When dealing with untreated mental illnesses stemming from traumatic memories, you’re more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.


The Relationship Between Childhood Trauma and Addiction 

Your brain is incredibly adaptive. There’s a term, plasticity, used to talk more about this. Essentially, your brain can respond to any situation that you experience in your daily life. The plasticity of your brain helps you learn new things and form memories.

  • Each thing that you’re doing, whether that’s something good or bad, leads to the growth of your brain neurons, as well as changes. 
  • However, those neural connections can break as well, if that’s what’s needed. 
  • Your brain rewires itself to make sure you continue functioning in whatever way is necessary.
  • This plasticity can be a great thing if you’re, for example, beginning to meditate. Neural plasticity can help your brain rewire itself through meditation so you can tackle depression and anxiety.
  • The problem can occur when you experience mistreatment or trauma. 
  • Your experiences, especially early on in your life when your brain is developing, change your brain’s structure. 
  • Abnormalities arise from your experiences when they’re negative, and those abnormalities affect behavior and cognition for trauma survivors. 

One specific example of these adverse effects is the impact of stress hormones on brain development. Stress hormones like cortisol interfere with normal brain development in children with chronically high levels. Children facing exposure to violence without a safe space are likely to have ongoing stress that rarely if ever dissipates. 

  • Around two-thirds of all people with addictions experience trauma exposure in their childhood, so it’s not a rare situation.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than a third of adolescents experiencing abuse or neglect will have a diagnosable substance use disorder before reaching their 18th birthday. 
  • Around 55 to 60% of people with PTSD end up developing a chemical dependency.



Women and Trauma

Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. When women have PTSD, they often have a longer duration of symptoms. Research shows women with PTSD are more sensitive to things reminding them of the trauma. They are at greater risk of adverse effects related to mental health outcomes. 

Women who have untreated trauma tend to experience mental health disorders such as higher rates of depression and anxiety and more physical symptoms. These physical symptoms can include sexual dysfunction, migraines, gastrointestinal issues, and other chronic health conditions. 

Health care providers often struggle to diagnose PTSD due to varying factors like a lack of time and training.


Trauma-Informed Care

The startling reality of the prevalence of childhood trauma in people and especially women with substance use disorders brings us back to the concept of trauma-informed care. Substance abuse counselors should understand the high levels of co-dependence between substance use and trauma histories to provide practical, evidence-based care.

There are quite a few different approaches to trauma-informed care. There are also differences in treating the psychological symptoms of trauma and treating the trauma experience. Treating the trauma experience is more in-depth and complex, requiring specialized training on the part of the clinician. In traditional programs, the focus is on treating psychiatric symptoms rather than the underlying causes.

Research and observation show that women who learn about the impact of trauma on their mental and physical health, self-esteem, and emotions tend to see more beneficial outcomes.

The following are some of the critical elements of trauma-informed care and therapy for childhood trauma:

  • The underlying concept of trauma-informed care is understanding how the brain responds to childhood trauma exposure or adult trauma exposure. 
  • Clinicians pay attention to the central nervous system, biological effects, and specifically the automatic nervous system to delve more into the impact of trauma.
  • Trauma-informed care should help women understand their symptoms but from an approach of their strengths.
  • We have to be careful about re-traumatizing our patients.
  • Central to all trauma-informed care, especially in addiction treatment, is the importance of hope for recovery.

Our goal with our trauma-informed care approach is to be empowering and positive. We also want to make sure that our patients never feel rushed through their program because it takes time to work through underlying trauma. Many women don’t understand the links of their trauma to their substance abuse, and instead, they feel shame or as if they’ve personally failed, which isn’t the reality at all.

Often we see women who don’t even know what they’ve gone through is traumatic. They see their situations as normal because that’s all they know.


Final Thoughts

If you’re searching for a “childhood trauma therapist near me” or something similar, you may already have an understanding of the role trauma plays in your life and your substance use. You might also be at a different point in your journey, where you haven’t fully gained an understanding of those effects.

Regardless of where you are, we can help you get where you want to be with childhood trauma recovery. 

Our team is trained and experienced with trauma-informed care. We work with you to help you understand the impact of your childhood trauma, but from a place of hope and empowerment for your recovery. Please reach out to the team at Anchored Tides Recovery by calling 866-600-7709 to learn more.