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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Reflecting About EMDR & Substance Abuse Treatment

EMDR substance abuseFor as long as I have been working in the field of substance abuse treatment there has always been a concern that a client may not be able to stay sober if they start to deal with their deep emotional issues. There are those who say “NO WAY” and those who say “If they don’t they CAN’T stay sober”. I have found that I rest somewhere between these two extremes.

While working here at Canyon Crossing, I've noticed that someone who has been doing well in treatment begins their trauma work with EMDR, and will appear to become less stable in their recovery. When they start dealing with that old trauma (that they used drugs/alcohol over for years), they start to have more cravings; when they were not having any cravings before they started to process these feelings. This is perplexing to the client, and creates some confusion and concerns for them. It is important that the client understand that this is a normal response to digging deep and dealing with old trauma, because this trauma is a huge relapse trigger and it is better to deal with it in a safe environment instead of on their own after treatment when they don’t have the built in support that treatment gives them.

One of the great things I like about working at Canyon Crossing is that I can do this deep work with the clients. I trust that the environment they live in is secure enough to support them while they deal with resolving their trauma, cravings, and painful history. The high accountability and structure that Canyon Crossing provides is a perfect place for these women to stay sober and work through their deep history of trauma with EMDR in order to achieve long term sobriety.

Janet E. Bontrager

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