“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”
~ Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper
Addiction is often referred to as a disease of loneliness. This is because, when a person is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse, he or she eventually loses connection with other people, reality shrinking down to the pursuit of drugs and/or alcohol. In many cases, this lack of human connection precedes addiction. One of the damaging influences that disrupts a person’s ability to form healthy bonds is relational trauma.
What is Relational Trauma?
According to PsychCentral, relational trauma occurs after prolonged periods of stress caused by psychological or physical entrapment which may include:
- Repeated violations of boundaries
- Being bullied or harassed
- Sexual, physical, emotional, or psychological abuse
- Or situations where domestic violence, substance abuse, stalking, threats, separation, loss, neglect, or unresolved grief are prevalent
More broadly speaking, relational trauma “encompasses relationships where there exists a profound ‘violation of human connection’ in which healthy attachment is impaired and in some cases either severed or at a minimum, injured significantly,” according to the PsychCentral article.
Psychodynamic theorist Gerald Adler argues that put simply, in the absence of a nurturing caregiver, a child develops an insatiable emptiness that damages the creation of the Self. Continued negative exposure further damages brain development—in some cases threatening Self-annihilation.
In other words, a child grows up having adopted the ideas or attitudes of others. Furthermore, in this case, if a child is continually treated as worthless, he or she will most likely begin to self-identify as a worthless human. In addition to this damaged identity, a person will have trouble building healthy relationships and quite possibly end up experiencing relationship trauma in their adult life.
As part of the aftermath of relational trauma, a person’s ability to form healthy bonds will be inhibited. “The relationally traumatized individual vacillates between pseudo-autonomy and needy desperation, relentlessly seeking rescue and rejecting real intimacy,” the article states. In this case, people affected by relational trauma will attract relationships that mimic the old patterns.
The ability to form healthy relationships is key to building a life worth living. If your life doesn’t feel worthy of living, then the desire to find something, such as a drug or alcohol in order to fill that absence is likely.
In addition to offering relational therapy, First Step Center of sunny Arizona also specializes in dual diagnosis treatment, family therapy, and trauma-informed care. With a small clientele base, First Step Center’s all-male residential treatment facility is designed to create custom treatment plans for each client in order to meet individual needs.
In addition to working the traditional 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, First Step Center clients will also benefit from principles of Codependents Anonymous, which focuses primarily on building relationship skills with both the Self and others.
Another way FSC focuses on connection is through the allowance of clients to maintain a level of contact with the business associates upon therapist approval. For men with high-profile positions, preserving a level of presence in the corporate realm is critical.
First Step Center also offers:
Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. No one needs to live a life of loneliness. First Step Center’s staff has a commitment to the full recovery of its clients. We offer comprehensive treatment designed to treat the roots of addiction. To find out more about relational trauma or addiction therapy, don’t wait another minute. Call us now at 866.832.6398.