Avoiding Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Trauma

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October is Emotional Wellness Month, and learning about unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma can improve emotional wellness. Unfortunately, unhealthy coping mechanisms can often lead to suffering and harmful habits that lead to substance abuse disorders and escalated mental illness symptoms. On the other hand, education for those who have experienced trauma can lead to the use of healthy and positive coping mechanisms. Therefore, most treatment plans aim to develop strong lifestyle skills that utilize helpful coping mechanisms. 

What is Trauma?

Trauma is an experience or event that results in physical, emotional, or life-threatening harm. Exposure to trauma has long-lasting adverse effects on mental, physical, and emotional health and well-being. In addition, those who do not understand how harmful the traumatic experience is can develop unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. Moreover, those with substance abuse disorders and mental illness have often experienced trauma in their lives. 

Trauma has a different effect on all people. However, people with a robust support system who practice healthy coping mechanisms may heal from trauma without long-lasting effects. Unfortunately, those with substance abuse disorders and mental illness tend to experience a high rate of trauma in their lives. Professional treatment can resolve unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. 

What are Coping Mechanisms?

When faced with difficult emotions and feelings, stressful or traumatic situations, it’s difficult to understand how to react. Coping mechanisms are behaviors that make us feel better when something difficult occurs. Positive and healthy coping mechanisms allow us to process and learn from the situation. Conversely, unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma hurt our life. 

Everyone understands that there is no handbook for being a parent. Parents unfamiliar with positive and healthy coping mechanisms can not model this behavior for their children. Positive and healthy coping mechanisms take time to learn and practice. Therefore, unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma can quickly become a habit for relief.   

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Treatment offers education on coping mechanisms. Group and individual therapies can increase our understanding of how trauma affects us and how we react. After this education, it is up to the individual to choose when difficult or traumatic events occur and how they will respond. Learning how to live a healthy and positive lifestyle involves choosing suitable coping mechanisms and leaving behind unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. 

Examples of Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Trauma

  • Projection is a defensive behavior used to protect the self. Individuals attach unacceptable behaviors, feelings, or emotions to someone else. This distracting behavior allows one to ignore the real problem, which lies within themselves. 
  • Denial provides a false sense of security as an unhealthy coping mechanism for trauma. The self refuses to recognize negative behaviors within, thus denying any problems. Denial, also referred to as repression, is a form of self-deception. 
  • Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs can lead to physical and mental health issues, addiction, overdose, and even death. On the other hand, drug usage offers the addict a feeling of self-acceptance and temporary confidence. 
  • Dissociation deludes the individual into believing that the unacceptable feelings and thoughts are not within themselves. An escape from overwhelming emotions connected to trauma, dissociation is a dangerous, unhealthy coping mechanism for trauma. 

Examples of Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Trauma

  • Exercise and healthy eating habits to produce a positive, healthy lifestyle are the foundation for healthy coping mechanisms. Also, maintaining self-control and forming beneficial physical and mental practices build self-esteem and a specific ability to stay away from unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. 
  • Developing hobbies, extra interests, and volunteer work offer a positive outlet for anxiety, depression, and stress. Focusing on tasks that bring you out of yourself will allow for positive and healthy coping and break away from unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. 

How to Change Unhealthy Coping Skills

When unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma have led to addiction and a possible mental illness, the first step must be the commitment to change. Then, agreeing to treatment and making the conscious choice to begin a new sober life must be made. Finally, therapy will help to investigate the traumas and how to answer anxiety, depression, and emotional pain with healthy and positive coping mechanisms for the future. 

Therapies to reverse unhealthy coping mechanisms in trauma include the following.

  • Individual therapy typically includes traditional cognitive behavioral therapy. The addict works with a therapist one-on-one. Finding the roots of the trauma and difficult emotions and feelings can help to recognize triggers of the trauma to help thwart traumatic memories.
  • Group therapy builds a robust support system for like-minded individuals with similar issues.
  • Art therapy takes the individual out of themselves to produce art and expressions to express deep emotions and feelings.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, which is helpful for those living with PTSD from traumatic experiences.
  • Family therapy brings a close support system to work on individual emotional distress and strengthens the family unit.

Begin Treating Trauma and Addiction in Los Angeles, CA

Launch Centers in Los Angeles, CA, offers experienced treatment professionals treating trauma-based addictions and mental illness. Our staff has deep empathy and understanding for those traumatized in the past resulting in unhealthy coping mechanisms. In conclusion, participation in our programs can result in a positive and healthy lifestyle. Contact us to speak to an intake specialist and begin the journey. 

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Meet Our Clinical Team

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