Whether accidental or intentional, all overdoses poison the body, leading to severe harm or even death. Those who survive an overdose may experience brain damage, resulting in many mental and physical ailments. There is a not only physical recovery but also emotional and mental recovery that is necessary in the aftermath of an overdose.

What Does Overdose Trauma Look Like?

Overdose trauma can be experienced by those who have experienced an overdose as well as those who witnessed it. The effects of this trauma can be short-term or long-term. The emotional symptoms can include having flashbacks, repeatedly remembering and reliving the experience, as well as obsessing over what could have happened. Individuals may develop PTSD as a result of experiencing or witnessing an overdose.

People with overdose trauma may develop hypervigilance, which causes them to constantly worry about when it could happen again. Shock, anger, fear, guilt, resentment, and hopelessness are all very normal feelings after overdosing or witnessing a loved one overdose. Physically, the liver and other organs are usually the main parts of the body affected by an overdose, and in more severe cases, the brain and heart also get damaged.

Some people may be able to heal from overdose trauma during regular substance abuse treatment, however, sometimes trauma requires its own unique treatment. It is important to understand what interventions are available to help individuals heal from overdose trauma.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

Trauma therapy can be used to help individuals cope with grief, loss, and other traumas that cause negative psychological effects. Overdose trauma specifically requires coping skills that individuals may not possess naturally but can be taught to acquire. One option for treating overdose trauma is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This therapy works by prompting you to focus on back and forth movements or sounds while thinking of the traumatic event.

The idea is that the sounds and movements can lessen your emotional response to the traumatic event when you think of it, which can benefit you any time it comes to mind. Before the main of the therapy begins, you will learn about physical and emotional responses to trauma, and with the help of your therapist, you will determine when you are ready to focus on and recall traumatic events. You will be taught new and effective coping skills, and then you will choose the event that needs to be focused on, whether it was a personal overdose or one that you witnessed.

Some people experience significant benefits from EMDR. However, this type of therapy may be uncomfortable and unsettling, and not everyone is in a stable enough mental state to go through with it. Consult with your therapist and team of professionals before doing so, or it could have negative, triggering effects. Not everyone in substance abuse treatment is ready to face their triggers and traumas so directly.

449 Recovery offers multiple forms of trauma therapy, including EMDR for those who would benefit from it. However, EMDR is only advised when a client is believed to be in a state where they can handle it.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is intended to help you confront fears and break the patterns of fear and avoidance. You will be exposed to the things that you typically avoid out of fear. This type of therapy for trauma specifically includes recalling and focusing on the traumatic event and describing it in detail.

The idea behind this type of treatment is that the trauma needs to be consciously and verbally processed so that it can become less painful. Often, individuals believe that recalling their trauma is dangerous, and this causes them to avoid thinking about it at all. However, suppressed trauma over time can seriously damage the body and mind. Some methods of therapy that involve imagining or describing the traumatic event can actually help people heal.

Before beginning this treatment, individuals need to be at a certain level in their treatment program and feel reasonably confident that they are ready for it. Initially, it may just be too much for someone to handle while also trying to not abuse a substance. It can be too triggering if one is in the early stages of treatment or has just recently experienced a traumatic event.

Therapists at 449 Recovery get to know their client’s stories and backgrounds extensively, as well as their current level of progress and emotional stability, which enables them to determine who is ready for exposure therapy.

Other Treatment Therapies

At 449 Recovery, trauma is mainly treated through intensive individual and group therapies, as well as EMDR. However, there are many other options available when it comes to therapeutic approaches. Some of them include:

  • Prolonged exposure therapy
  • Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Cognitive processing therapy
  • Stress inoculation training
  • Medication evaluation and management
  • Psychotherapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Brainspotting Therapy

The longer you suppress your trauma, the more destructive it becomes and the more control it has over you. Whether you have overdosed or you have seen one or more people overdose, it is quite possible you are experiencing overdose trauma. You may have mental, emotional, and physical symptoms as trauma can manifest anywhere throughout the body. It is important to first accept that your trauma is causing you a number of issues within your daily life and that the reason you may tend to avoid thinking about it is that it is painful. There are ways to revisit these events and make them less painful. Exposure therapy and EMDR are two of many options that could drastically improve how your trauma is affecting you. 449 Recovery is experienced in treating patients with trauma. Call us today at (949) 435-7449 to find out more about the programs we offer.