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An individual that has experienced trauma has experienced a real or perceived threat to themselves or a loved one, or experiences continuous feelings of terror, horror, helplessness, or fear. Experiencing trauma can permanently set one’s stress system on high alert. There are 3 different types of trauma.

  • Acute: traumatic events occur at a particular time and place such as natural disasters, serious accidents, school shootings, gang violence, terrorist attacks.
  • Chronic: traumatic events occur repeatedly over long periods of time such as some forms of physical abuse, long-standing sexual abuse, poverty, domestic violence, wars.
  • Complex: is a layering of chronic traumas.

Strategies such as substance use or drinking alcohol feel like they bring relief, but create problems over time. Immediately after a traumatic event, support and compassion are critical. Some people will want to talk about the event, while others will find it troubling. Treatment options include psychotherapy, medications, use of service animals, and support groups.

An individual’s experience of trauma impacts every human functioning – physical, mental, behavioral, social and spiritual. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente, is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and wellbeing. The ACE study’s results suggest maltreatment and household dysfunction in childhood contribute to health problems in adulthood.

The ACE study also revealed that the economic costs of untreated trauma-related substance abuse were estimated at $161 billion in 2000. Trauma is treatable! Check out further resources on trauma here.