Individualized Addiction Treatment: Tapping Into Your Inner Child to Heal and Grow
Have you ever seen a child running across the warm sand at the beach, or grinning from ear to ear on a swing set? There is nothing that can compare to that type of innocence and beauty, because their eyes see everything as magical. They don’t judge themselves or others. Children implicitly recognize the simplicity and power of loving themselves and others without fear–a feat that many grown men and women struggle to put into practice.
Unfortunately, life is tough. Life is complicated. Life throws things at us unexpectedly: death, heartbreak, change. Sometimes our growing up is disrupted by traumatic experiences, events, and memories, shattering that wide-eyed, hopeful view on the world. Sometimes those same run-ins with trauma can lead us down the path of addiction and substance abuse, resulting in pain, anguish, and guilt–leaving us wondering as adults where it all started; where we became broken.
In fact, the CDC’s massive study on ACE (adverse childhood experiences, including abuse, neglect, or family dysfunction) showed that nearly two-thirds of adults polled experienced at least one ACE, while more than one in five reported three or more ACE.[1. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/findings.html] Not only were the adults who went through an ACE more likely to have reported risk-taking behaviors, drug use, and sexual promiscuity, but the likelihood of adopting self-harming habits increased with each additional traumatic event. While negative childhood experiences manifest themselves differently in everyone, doing tough work in examining those events and emotions by tapping into your inner child may lead to clarity and understanding as you go through treatment.
“Broken” child, “reparable” adult
No matter what you’ve been through in your past, it is essential that you understand you are worthy of the same health and happiness that others own. Maybe someone you know has also suffered from some form of childhood trauma, but hasn’t struggled in the same ways that you have–and that might make you feel flawed, dejected, or shameful about the way those experiences have shaped your existence.[2. http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(98)00017-8/abstract]
The fact of the matter is that while different children can go through the same types of experiences, it never affects two of them in the same way. Perhaps you struggled with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness after a traumatic event or ACE, and weren’t even aware of it; those are difficult and complex emotions for a young person to understand and cope with. Maybe you’ve found yourself wondering if you were prone to addiction all along, or if your mental/emotional state informed it–and unfortunately, there is no concrete evidence to suggest for sure one or the other.[3. http://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-and-substance-abuse-the-chicken-or-the-egg/]
One thing is for certain, though: treatment is never a shameful choice. As you continue to progress on your journey to recovery, it is important that you allow those difficult emotions and experiences to surface, so that you can allow your inner child to heal–resulting in a healthier, stronger adult version of yourself.
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Fascination, fearlessness, and fun
If you suspect that healing from a traumatic childhood experience should be an integral part of your addiction treatment, be sure to approach it with childlike qualities: fascination and curiosity about yourself and your past; a fearlessness so as to not impede your growth while facing difficult emotions; and incorporating fun into your treatment plan, because laughter is the one thing that can heal universally.[4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evil-deeds/200806/essential-secrets-psychotherapy-the-inner-child]
There are many ways to incorporate fun and laughter into your treatment, especially with individualized options and modes of healing. Maybe music is one thing that makes your soul happy, and listening to or creating it in music therapy will help you not only feel light, but will fuel you as you go through treatment. Animals have been proven to increase human happiness with just a few minutes of contact, and Alta Mira’s equine therapy could be an option for you if your heart lies with furry friends. Into recovery, simple activities like outdoor time, coloring/drawing, and even dancing can help you tap into that type of carefree, joyous spirit.
Going through treatment will take a lot of work emotionally, mentally, and even physically, but the rewards are well worth it. Though your current struggle might have been informed by painful experiences in your past, it is important to remember that those things have made you who you are, and who you are is someone worthy of a fulfilled and empowered life.
Alta Mira’s quality treatment center and trained professionals will help put you on the path to recovery. No matter what you’ve been through with your addiction, help and support is available for you. If you or someone you know has struggled or is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, contact us today.