What is Trauma?

Trauma can be defined as any experience that is intensely disturbing or distressing and leaves a profoundly negative emotional imprint on a person.


This can include sexual abuse, physical or emotional abuse, but also encounters that, on the surface, might not be expected to leave a long-lasting negative memory. The person may not even realise they have experienced trauma at the time, and it may affect them later on, or they may be consciously aware of their trauma, and may repeatedly relive the event in their head.


If trauma is not addressed, it can create neuroses and issues around relating to others in the present and the future.


The impact of trauma


Trauma impacts on every individual in a unique way. When we hear someone say a person looks “traumatised”, they are talking about visible distress. In reality, many people who experience trauma do so internally, which means that we may not see any visible expression on their face that indicates this.


Sometimes, instead of the individual being able to articulate their pain, trauma can be displayed in other, less direct ways.


It can affect the person’s attachment style and pattern in the future. For example, in close relationships, where the person may feel overly exposed or vulnerable at the prospect of really trusting someone else, they may push loved ones away or unconsciously engineer situations to create a distance between them and other people.


This is all done in an attempt to ‘preserve the self’, and ultimately, to prevent a repetition of the original trauma they once experienced.


Helping people who have experienced trauma


Patience is essential in helping individuals who are affected by trauma. Trust itself is complex, but particularly for people who have experienced extreme trauma in their lives. This is because many of them will have established a belief system that others cannot be trusted and that if they do trust them, they will once again suffer and be left feeling vulnerable, powerless, and alone.


This is referred to as ‘hypervigilance’, where somebody is overly careful with who they choose to trust, and can become anti-social and anti-relational with others, leaving them with no one to support them.


This is not always the case. Traumatised people may, conversely, develop an over-dependence on partners, friends, or family members. This is done in an attempt to avoid the feeling of hopelessness or vulnerability that they feel when they are left alone with their thoughts and memories.


Both types of responses come from the same fear: that of the trauma occurring again in some way. The first response reasons that by keeping oneself independent, the risk of danger is reduced. The second says that by keeping others close, there is less chance of them having to manage danger in isolation, thus giving them a better chance of surviving it.


In order for the traumatised individual to be able to make peace with their trauma and to trust again, they need to work through the actual experiences, ideally with someone professionally trained (such as a psychiatrist, a counsellor, or a combination of the two, as well as other support services that can be found online), and build on these past experiences by creating new reparative positive ones.


This can be very slow, involving small steps such as talking to someone they would previously have avoided, or challenging their beliefs gradually to question who they are really mistrustful of: is it the new person they are communicating with?


Is it the old previous person who betrayed and mistreated them, causing them the trauma to begin with? Or, lastly, is it the individual themselves? Often people can blame themselves for traumatic experiences because they imagine they could have prevented it, or they unconsciously hold onto the idea that they caused it to avoid facing a feeling of helplessness.


This is why, if you are supporting someone who is going through trauma, or if you are going through it yourself, patience is so key.


There are so many different aspects to it that can surface along the way, and there is no time-frame on how long it should take to recover from traumatic experiences.


If you are helping someone close to you who has been through something traumatic …


It is hugely important to find the balance between being there for the traumatised person and letting them know you are there for them, and not falling into the role of becoming their therapist.


This is for their benefit as well as yours. They will need to work through a lot of defences and insecurities that have been generated by the traumatic event, and if you are too closely involved, it can affect the relationship you have with them quite harmfully.


That is not to say you should not make yourself available to the person, but rather, that it may also be useful for them to seek professional support along the way.


If you have been through something traumatic …


It is important to seek appropriate help in order to work through what has happened, but that is, of course, a big step to actually take. There are some techniques that may help you in the meantime.


Something which has been found to be helpful is a traffic light technique, where you identify what feels safe (green), what feels a little bit uncomfortable (amber), and what feels dangerous (red).


This can be used on phobias, general anxiety, and social anxiety, as well as many other issues. It allows you to slow down your thought process in order to think rationally about what your limits are, and it can help people to avoid certain situations if they feel ‘red’.


A variation on this technique is rating things (stressors, things that induce anxiety etc) on a scale of 1-10 in terms of how much they bother you, or how much anxiety they create. Again, this can help you to question and consider what feels manageable, and perhaps to realise that certain things are less stressful than they initially feel.


These are simply two examples of grounding techniques that can be used within therapy but also outside of a therapeutic setting too.


Each human being is different in terms of what approach speaks to them and what works well for them.


Trauma affects people differently and must be handled sensitively, honestly, and slowly. If you think you have suffered a trauma of any kind, it would be worth opening up a conversation about it with a professional, where it is possible to work through the trauma in a safe environment.




Natasha Klimt


We are here 24/7 to help get you and your recovery on the right path.

    Our promise to you

    thumbOur advice will always be led by your needs and is free, confidential and impartial.
    thumbOur experienced professionals will treat you with compassion and understanding.
    thumbOur purpose is to provide you with all the information needed to make informed decisions.

    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.