Silvia Violante: Trauma and Addiction — Trauma’s Impact on Substance Abuse | Bouncing Back #40

In this episode, host Dina Sargeant is joined by Silvia Violante, who is a registered counseling psychologist employing therapeutic approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment, Cognitive Behavioral, and Compassion-Focused Therapy

The episode explores the relationship between childhood trauma and substance abuse. Learn how trauma affects a person’s likelihood of developing an addiction and the different ways to avoid it.

Meet Silvia Violante

Silvia is a registered counseling psychologist based in Australia. With over 10 years of experience in the substance use field, her career began in correctional and prison settings, where she worked with individuals on parole Silvia utilizes a range of therapeutic frameworks, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT). Silvia is also a Psychology Board-approved supervisor, supervising trainee psychologists, experienced psychologists, and other mental health clinicians.

About the episode

In this episode, Silvia talks about how childhood trauma and adverse experiences can often be precursors to substance abuse in later life.

But trauma doesn’t always lead to substance abuse. Many factors determine whether someone develops a substance use problem or not. Silvia revealed that common contributing factors like relationship issues, the loss of a loved one, and mental health conditions, among others, can contribute to substance abuse.

She explains how substances are often initially used socially or for experimentation, but they can become problematic if certain rituals or habits develop around their use. Silvia also highlights that substances are initially used as a coping strategy, becoming an issue when they start negatively impacting daily life, relationships, and work, or when a person becomes physically dependent.

In addition, Silvia provides insights on managing triggers related to trauma and addiction without resorting to substances. She argues that building resilience and learning to manage emotions is crucial. Sylvia also emphasizes the importance of support networks, therapeutic groups, and aligning with personal values for addiction recovery and managing the impacts of trauma.

She suggests seeking support by joining groups like SMART Recovery, where you can find a sense of community and understanding from peers going through similar experiences. She also emphasizes the need for patience, as recovery takes time and effort. It’s important to be patient with yourself and understand that setbacks can happen. Instead of expecting instant results, focus on your overall progress.

Silvia also talks about the importance of identifying triggers. By recognizing the situations, people, or emotions that trigger cravings and risky behavior, you can create a plan to cope with them without resorting to substance use. She highlights the value of building coping strategies and developing a toolkit of techniques to manage cravings and maintain resilience.

Here are some key pieces of advice from Silvia:

  • Seek professional help. Don’t hesitate to seek professional support from therapists, counselors, or addiction specialists. Their objective guidance and expertise can greatly assist you on your recovery journey.
  • Practice self-compassion. Addressing addiction takes courage, so be kind to yourself throughout. Replace self-criticism with self-compassion and acknowledge the progress you’ve made.
  • Set boundaries. Establish boundaries with individuals or social circles that enable substance use and may hinder your recovery. Instead, surround yourself with people who positively influence your journey.
  • Holistic well-being. Focus on managing daily stress and nurturing your overall well-being. Taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health supports long-term behavioral change.
  • Connect with values and purpose. Shift your focus from seeking validation from others to connecting with your own values and purpose. Remember that your recovery is for yourself and align it with what truly matters to you.

In conclusion

Addiction isn’t just about substance abuse – it’s also shaped by mental health and relationships. The conversation discussed the importance of learning more about this phenomenon and equipping yourself with the right knowledge and practices to overcome this momentous challenge.

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