Trauma and addiction are two very difficult conditions to live with. To make matters worse, trauma and addiction are often linked to each other: addiction can lead to trauma, and traumatized people are more likely to develop addictions.
In this article, I’ll describe how trauma and addiction are often interrelated, and how you can use breathwork as a medium to help manage these issues. Seeking a coach who can help guide you through an introduction to breathwork can be a valuable way to work toward recovery.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is something that occurs when an event happens that is more intense or unpleasant than a person’s mind is capable of coping with. The mind then internalizes this trauma, storing it somewhere in the body and often repressing emotions or feelings that arise as a result of the situation.
Unfortunately, just because the trauma is repressed doesn’t mean that it stops affecting the person. Traumatized people often develop other emotional problems, anxieties, or self-esteem images. Unaddressed trauma can make it difficult for people to fully live their lives.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is, essentially, a habit that a person lacks control over. Addictions can be to substances, like drugs and alcohol, or to behaviors, like sex and gambling. Whatever the case, if an individual is unable to stop engaging in a certain behaviour despite it causing problems in their life, then they have an addiction.
Addictions can be very serious and potentially life-threatening problems, especially if the addiction is related to drugs or alcohol. Drug and alcohol addictions can gradually damage the mind and body, leading to health issues if care is not taken.
Other addictions, such as sex or gambling addictions, are generally not as imminently life-threatening. However, they can drastically reduce a person’s quality of life by restricting their freedom and by causing social or emotional problems.
The Link Between Trauma and Addiction
Trauma can lead to addiction, and addiction can lead to trauma. I’ll explain why.
Let’s start with trauma. Trauma generally involves some degree of emotional repression, which can lead to anxiety, hesitation in social situations, and problems with self-esteem, confidence, and relating to others.
All of these problems can lead to someone feeling inadequate, which can lead to them finding solace in drugs or alcohol. Substances like these provide the illusion of control and happiness, while they continue to sap away a person’s mental and physical health.
Addiction, on the other hand, can be started for other reasons – environment, circumstance, or other mental health issues. However, many addictions can lead people into situations in which they experience traumatizing events.
For example, a drug addict may end up in a violent situation with a dealer. A sex addict may end up in a sexual situation so intense that they become further traumatized themselves, or end up traumatizing someone else.
Breathwork for Trauma and Addiction
Breathwork is a blanket term that describes a number of different practices all focused on regulating and controlling the breath to bring about positive changes in a person’s mental and physical health.
Breathwork has been popular in regions all over the world for thousands of years, and it continues to be effective today. There are many different forms.
- Holotropic breathwork helps to unify the mind, body, and spirit by helping to induce different states of consciousness that can supplement our ordinary, everyday waking consciousness.
- Rebirthing breathwork can either be incredibly intense or incredibly relaxing.
- The intense variety involves breathing quickly for extended periods of up to an hour. This results in massive amounts of energy being propelled into the body and can lead to physical traumas becoming obvious. This method is quite uncomfortable, but highly effective.
- A more relaxing variety involves connected circular breathing, which can be used to help identify subconscious traumas.
These are just a couple examples of breathwork.
Breathwork In Trauma
Breathwork can be used to gently (or, in the case of some types of rebirthing breathwork, aggressively) identify where traumas are stored in the body, and from what events those traumas arose.
These traumas can then be worked through with the help of a suitable coach. Breathwork can continue to be useful during this phase, as it is a great tool for bringing about emotional stability and relaxation.
Breathwork in Addiction
Breathwork has a number of useful applications for people struggling through addictions.
- Breathwork can be used to bring about stillness when someone is experiencing cravings for drugs, gambling, sex, etc.
- Breathwork can be useful if someone is going through withdrawal, especially psychological withdrawal.
- Breathwork can be great for helping people identify the underlying cause of their addictions and working through them.
- Breathwork can help stabilize people during rehab.
- Breathwork can bring about changes in consciousness that can replace the need for drugs.
Breathwork is a viable option for people who are struggling with trauma or addiction. If you would like to see how breathwork can help you or your loved one in dealing with trauma or addiction, contact me. Together we can set up a breathwork practice and get you moving toward recovery!