While people with addiction have to work on their own journey, the roots of addiction run deep, far, and much wider than people realize.
There are many working parts of addiction. Many people with addiction experience intergenerational trauma which influences their substance use and recovery. When people don’t know the origins of their substance use, it can perpetuate it until they work through family therapy and intergenerational bonds which have caused circumstances to bring great pain and turmoil in their lives. Intergenerational trauma is very real for many people, with entrenched habits and behaviors that drive addiction. Find out more about this and how to combat it in recovery.
What is Intergenerational Trauma?
Intergenerational trauma is a powerful and complex concept that explains how traumatic events and experiences can be passed down from one generation to the next. It refers to past trauma’s psychological and emotional impacton individuals and their family members, such as war, natural disasters, or systemic oppression. This type of trauma can manifest in various ways, from inherited coping mechanisms to persistent feelings of fear and hopelessness.
Intergenerational trauma highlights the deep connection between our past and present, and shows how our collective history can continue to affect us, even if we haven’t personally experienced the trauma ourselves. It is a captivating phenomenon that sheds light on the resilience and vulnerability of human beings, and the importance of healing across generations.
Effective Coping Strategies for Intergenerational Trauma
When people come into recovery circles with trauma in their past, they may or may not realize all the layers involved. Trauma survivors are almost always dealing with long-held beliefs, systems, and challenging behaviors that need support. Family therapy is a great place to open up a conversation about how and why these things happened and begin the healing process. Some key components to keep in mind:
- Open up avenues of communication: Work with family members to talk about the issues openly in therapy. Bring in the people who are willing to do the work, not those who are in denial or are unable to support the journey forward. Talk about feelings, own them, and stress the responsibility everyone has to help one another.
- Seek counseling: A qualified therapist can help people analyze behavioral patterns. They can determine if they’re doing things based on trauma or if their dreams carry evidence of trauma. If a person is dealing with the complexities of grief, that is another sign.
- Seek help for addictive behaviors: Don’t wait to seek help for addiction and chronic relapse. Trauma plays a role in addiction. Transgenerational trauma helps people know what type of treatment is needed. When dealing with addiction, there are many layers so go slowly and embrace the process one step at a time
Family therapy is difficult for people because it opens up historical trauma for many people. It also brings conflict into the light and not everyone is ready to cope. However, it may be important for the person with an addiction to openly address the issues in therapy where it is a neutral setting.
Healing does not happen overnight. It may take a long time in therapy to work out all the past issues to a point of resolution or acceptance. Healing from addiction is a lifelong journey that takes time for people to cope in a positive way. They have to notice the patterns then be willing to work on them.
The work of healing is never done. There are always more ways to incorporate helpful tools into a person’s daily journey of recovery. With family, there may be some who embrace the journey while others choose not to. The goal is to be concerned with personal healing in recovery and hope the family wants to come along for the ride.
Focus on personal healing, but embrace the opportunity for family therapy. It can bring great healing and opportunity if people are willing to seek spaces where they can find room to grow stronger and more present to themselves and others through family therapy. Even if it does not heal all wounds, it at least provides space to bring light to the dark corners of issues that lie under the surface and begin the journey of healing.