Addiction & Childhood Trauma

“Numbing the Pain: Making the Link between Childhood Trauma and Addiction” with Christiane Sanderson – Saturday 8th February 2020

There is increasing evidence that adverse childhood experiences such as childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, relational trauma and early childhood stress significantly increases vulnerability and elevated risk of developing addictions. This workshop will be invaluable to therapists working with those who have experienced early abuse, trauma and/or neglect, and therapists working with those who present in therapy with disordered or addictive coping mechanisms.

To manage the impact of abuse, trauma and emotional dysregulation many survivors resort to substance misuse, disordered eating, gambling, workaholism, sex, exercise or unhealthy relationships to self-medicate and to regulate their emotions and mood.

Despite the growing evidence of the link between early childhood trauma and addictions, many alcohol, drug and addiction services tend to focus on harm minimisation and often do not have the resources to explore the underlying causes of addiction.

This workshop and training day will look at early adverse childhood experiences, in particular childhood sexual abuse, complex and relational trauma, and their link to addiction. It will explore the nature of addictions within the context of attachment deficits and lack of emotional self-regulation.

The focus will be on enabling practitioners working with addictions and substance misuse to develop a deeper understanding of the link between addictions and complex trauma and how to work more effectively with substance dependent clients. To this effect it will examine the barriers to disclosure such as shame and how to scaffold their practice with the principles of trauma informed practice.

Emphasis will be placed on psychoeducation and re-regulation of the nervous system through affect regulation and increasing the client’s window of tolerance. It will introduce a range of techniques such as stabilisation, grounding techniques, and mindfulness to restore control over dysregulated emotional states and reduce the need for external sources of regulation and self-medication.

In addition it will explore ways of facilitating disclosure of abuse experiences, how survivors who have a history of addiction can best be supported through the therapeutic relationship, how to liaise with specialist services and the range of referral pathways.

Topics covered will be:

The link between adverse childhood experiences and addiction
The link between attachment deficits and addiction
Emotional Dysregulation and the nervous system
Addiction as self-medication to regulate emotions and mood states
The principles of trauma informed practice
Re-regulation of the nervous system through stabilisation and grounding techniques
Developing affect regulation and an increased window of tolerance
Overcoming barriers to disclosure
Offering a supportive therapeutic relationship to survivors who have a history of childhood trauma


Go to the CURRENT EVENTS page to book your place by clicking here.