Addiction is a complex disease that hijacks the brain and alters brain chemistry. People who suffer from addiction often live with a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can be hard to heal from past trauma and some people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), is a psychotherapy approach that is an effective treatment for victims of trauma. Post-traumatic stress affects the brain and disrupts the way information is processed. According to the EMDR Institute, some studies that were conducted on the effectiveness of EMDR therapy show that “84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.” EMDR also has an effect on how the brain processes information. It mimics what naturally happens during dreaming or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. After EMDR treatment, a client will still remember the trauma, but it is less upsetting. Remembering the trauma can be just as painful as it was the first time it occurred. The senses become trapped in time and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings are the same. These memories have a lasting negative impact that interferes with a person’s life and relationships. According to Dr. Francine Shapiro, senior research fellow at the Mental Research Institute and director of EMDR Institute, “Current experiences must link with the memory networks in our brain to be interpreted. If there is an unprocessed memory, the negative emotions and sensations can emerge and color our perception of this current situation. In short, the past is present.” (Shapiro, 2018). When mental health complications co-occur with addiction, both conditions need to be treated simultaneously. EMDR treats panic attacks, grief, phobias, stress, addiction, abuse, and dissociative disorders. In EMDR treatment, the memory is properly aligned while the brain is stimulated. The memory can be transformed into a learning experience and negative emotions can be morphed into a positive sense of self and mindfulness. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction and mental illness, get help today. Nexus offers treatment for dual diagnosis. EMDR is one method used in dual diagnosis treatment.
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