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Trauma-Addictions and Mental Health


Trauma refers to a situation where an individual responds emotionally to a gruesome event such as a natural disaster, rape, and accident. According to Magruder et al. (2017), immediately after a traumatic incident, most individuals are usually in denial and shock. Studies demonstrate that there exists a strong connection between addiction and traumatic events (Magruder et al., 2017). Several individuals who have encountered war, disasters, criminal attacks, and child abuse turn to drug abuse and alcohol to help them manage anxiety, guilt, bad memories, and pain. Additionally, different types of emotional and physical abuse can have long-lasting impacts on an individual’s health.

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Trauma can determine how individuals feel about themselves and how they associate with others. Studies reveal that the chances of developing mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression are higher in people who have undergone trauma. The purpose of this assignment is to integrate key concepts about trauma, trauma-informed practice, trauma-specific services, theories, and practice approaches as related to social work.

Key Concepts about Trauma

In social work, concepts about trauma provide grounds for trauma-informed intervention and assessment. One of these theories states that experiences of trauma are intrinsically complex. Every event of trauma constitutes distinct traumatic moments, which may include different degrees of witnessing death or injury, physical violation, and objective life threats (Magruder et al., 2017). These reactions that people have to specific incidences further depend on the age of a person. In youths, it is more complex because of the limitations in responding to and appraising protection, safety, and danger (Schultebraucks & Galatzer‐Levy, 2019).

For instance, youths who experience abuse receive information that they must act in a specific manner. In other words, these individuals are not always sure of how to behave since they are afraid of the consequences. Thus, social workers have to understand the underlying complexities associated with a specific type of trauma to correctly assess and diagnose the issue.

Another key concept is that the occurrence of trauma is within a wide scope, including current circumstances, life experiences, and personal characteristics. Interpersonal trauma that occurs at the youthful stage of life may teach individuals to survive by all means despite being maltreated (Magruder et al., 2017). How these individuals cope with, respond to, and deal with different situations originates from the experiences of the person causing the maltreatment. Past experiences such as domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse can further cause trauma to manifest within a person. The cultural, community, familial, and physical environments are other determinants of individual developing trauma. All these are important aspects of social work because they help in identifying the root cause of the problem.

Incidences of trauma repeatedly generate distressing reminders, life changes, and secondary adversities in an individual’s daily life. Research concerning trafficked children states that most of the victims suffer from painful reminders of their experiences (Magruder et al., 2017). Consequently, a great number of them were suffering from stress and depression due to past events. According to Schultebraucks and Galatzer‐Levy (2019), reminders could be such elements as particular locations, cologne, sweat, or the smell of alcohol. Furthermore, these reminders can occur at any time, causing the person to react by re-experiencing or by being hyper-vigilant.

On the other hand, to numb the pain of their experiences, individuals resort to drug and alcohol abuse. When this goes on for too long, they become addicted to such substances. This changes a person’s life because they now become dependent on such drugs to survive. Secondary adversities such as legal proceedings, continuous treatment for injuries, and social stigma also affect an individual’s life.

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Trauma-Informed Practice

Trauma-informed care considers and comprehends the prevalent nature of trauma and enhances recovery and healing environments rather than services and practices that may unintentionally re-traumatize. Trauma-informed care is a practice in the social work sector that presumes that there are higher chances that every individual has had a traumatic experience (Berliner & Kolko, 2016). The approach acknowledges the existence of symptoms of trauma and recognizes the function trauma has in a person’s life, including social workers. The practice alters company culture at a system or organizational level to focus on appropriately treating and respecting trauma effects (Leitch, 2017).

The rules and regulations of this approach require that every service provider must have the necessary expertise to ensure that they deliver quality services to individuals suffering from traumatic experiences. Thus, the system mainly emphasizes finding out what happened to an individual rather than what is wrong with the person.

Trauma-Informed Care takes a different approach when providing services to people. The primary objective is not to treat issues or symptoms related to emotional, physical, or sexual abuse but instead to offer support services in ways that are appropriate and accessible to trauma victims (Leitch, 2017). In the social work environment, there are higher chances of re-traumatizing when service systems do not apply trauma-informed care towards patient treatment. Re-traumatization refers to any environment or situation that might be similar to the trauma of a person, which further elicits difficult reactions and feelings related to the initial trauma (Berliner & Kolko, 2016).

Trauma-informed care takes into account the fact that re-traumatization can exist in any setting and system. Currently, re-traumatization is a cause for concern since it affects individuals who frequently experience them developing additional traumatic complications.

Trauma-Informed Care practices strive to comprehend the whole of a person seeking treatment. When traumatic incidences occur, they impact a person’s sense of self, views concerning the world, and sense of others. These perceptions directly affect a person’s motivation or capability to associate with and use support services (Leitch, 2017). A structure using this practice can successfully diagnose the cause of trauma and can enhance the accessibility to necessary trauma services.

Furthermore, a Trauma-Informed Care system can significantly improve the response rate of social workers, thereby increasing patient outcomes. Additionally, utilizing such a system means that the treatment setup would be flexible enough to change practices, procedures, and policies to reduce potential barriers to treatment. These systems fully incorporate knowledge concerning trauma in every facet of service and teach social workers to identify trauma symptoms and signs, reducing the chances of re-traumatization.

Five principles guide Trauma-Informed Care and serve as a basis for how social workers and care systems can operate to minimize re-traumatization chances. According to Berliner and Kolko (2016), their guidelines can be generalized across various settings of services. Instead of providing a set of procedures and practices, the guidelines can be properly applied and interpreted in particular service settings. These principles include empowerment, trustworthiness, collaboration, choice, and safety. Making sure that a person’s emotional and physical safety is mitigated is the initial step to offering Trauma-Informed Care. Secondly, it is important for the person seeking services to know whether the service provider is trustworthy. To ensure that an individual does not doubt the services being provided, the service center should create a professional establishment.

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The third principle is choice, which refers to the ability of an individual to be able to select from a wide variety of services. The more choice and control a person has over the variety of services provided by an establishment, the higher the probability of an individual considering participating in services. Additionally, this increases the program’s outcomes, thereby ensuring minimal cases of re-traumatization. Through collaboration, social workers are able to work as a unit in the provision of services. This is important because it brings together different types of skills needed to achieve a particular objective.

Finally, through the implementation process of the approach, every worker and patient must be empowered. Empowering and emphasizing a person’s strength helps them develop their skills and cope with different situations within the service setting.

Trauma-Specific Services

Trauma-specific services differ in terms of their objectives and techniques. Some focus on the past, others focus on the present, while others combine both the present and the past. Trauma-specific services that focus on the past usually depend on the individual narrating a story about the trauma incident to establish a connection on how the person has been affected by the trauma. The approaches that focus on the present often utilize current managing, psycho-educational, and coping skills for excellent functioning (Rometsch-Ogioun El Sount et al., 2019). The combination approach puts together present and past techniques in treating trauma.

The difference between present and past approaches to treating trauma lies in how they are applied. Based on the particular requirement of the client and the nature of the trauma, a physician may decide to use either of the techniques. For example, during the administration of short-term treatment for an individual with mental health or substance abuse disorders, a service provider can utilize psycho-educational or cognitive behavior techniques (Rometsch-Ogioun El Sount et al., 2019). Establishing the type of trauma one has is the primary consideration that should be emphasized.

Trauma-specific services include those done within the initial 48 hours after an incident. When a natural disaster occurs, local agencies are often the first responders on site before any other organization. Regardless of who arrives first, there has to be a hierarchy of requirements to prevent further injuries. The hierarchy can include such elements as health, shelter, food, security, survival, and taking survivors to the hospital and informing their friends and relatives (Chafouleas et al., 2018).

During this crucial period, proper interventions include screening for increased psychological impacts such as substance abuse, and educating survivors and other members of society would play an important role in reducing the effects of trauma. During the first 48 hours, it is recommended that no formal treatment should be performed; however, some people can offer support and solace to victims.

On the other hand, there are those intervention measures applied after the initial 48 hours have passed. Such measures include cognitive-behavioral therapies, which integrate behavioral and cognitive interventions in treating trauma. These services involve stimulating a patient and observing their reaction to different situations (Chafouleas et al., 2018). This type of intervention is effective in treating substance abuse disorders that adversely affect patients. The other intervention is cognitive process therapy, which is majorly utilized to treat victims of rape. Rape victims, especially women, often suffer from mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder. This trauma-specific service utilizes a series of 12 treatment approaches to ensure that individuals regain their natural health.

One of the ideologies that apply in the social work industry is the social learning theory by Albert Bandura. According to the idea, learning takes place through observing others and replicating their behavior (Akers & Jennings, 2019). For learning to occur, an individual has to want to copy the individual they are observing. The person closely follows the actions of the other party and memorizes them. When the individual is able to apply his or her knowledge in an appropriate situation, it is then that the process of learning is complete. In social work, service providers can emulate their role models in the industry. In this case, they would observe how they operate in particular settings and copy their behavior and apply the knowledge gained when an appropriate situation arises.

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Systems theory is the other concept that can be associated with the social work industry. According to the ideology, individuals are complex systems’ products rather than people performing actions while isolated (Lai & Huili Lin, 2017). In other words, a variety of elements working as a unit impact behavior. These elements include home environment, economic class, religious systems, social settings, family, and friends. The theory can be utilized in the treatment of trauma and other conditions such as anxiety and depression. Social workers, in this case, would utilize the theory by studying the systems that influence different people. By doing so, they are able to recognize where there is a breakdown in the system, which causes certain behaviors.


Akers, R. L., & Jennings, W. G. (2019). The social learning theory of crime and deviance. Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research, 113-129. Web.

Berliner, L., & Kolko, D. J. (2016). Trauma-informed care: A commentary and critique. Child maltreatment, 21(2), 168-172.

Chafouleas, S. M., Koriakin, T. A., Roundfield, K. D., & Overstreet, S. (2018). Addressing childhood trauma in school settings: A framework for evidence-based practice. School Mental Health, 11(1), 40-53. Web.

Lai, C., & Huili Lin, S. (2017). Systems theory. The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication, 1-18. Web.

Leitch, L. (2017). Action steps using ACEs and trauma-informed care: A resilience model. Health & Justice, 5(1). Web.

Magruder, K. M., McLaughlin, K. A., & Elmore Borbon, D. L. (2017). Trauma is a public health issue. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 8(1), 1375338. Web.

Rometsch-Ogioun El Sount, C., Windthorst, P., Denkinger, J., Ziser, K., Nikendei, C., Kindermann, D., Ringwald, J., Renner, V., Zipfel, S., & Junne, F. (2019). Chronic pain in refugees with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A systematic review on patients’ characteristics and specific interventions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 118, 83-97. Web.

Schultebraucks, K., & Galatzer‐Levy, I. R. (2019). Machine learning for prediction of posttraumatic stress and resilience following trauma: An overview of basic concepts and recent advances. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 32(2), 215-225. Web.

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