Choosing Your Approach
Imagine someone brings you a piece of news. Let’s say they rush up to you to let you know that someone is towing your car. Now that you are informed, what will happen next?
One option would be to keep the information in mind while you figure out another way to get home. Maybe you look up the bus schedule on your phone, for example.
Another option would be for you to truly respond to the information. You might rush over to see why your car is being towed. You might try to talk the tow truck operator or parking enforcement out of towing your car. If you can’t prevent towing, you would scribble down all the details for reacquiring your car. You would almost certainly be sure to note what went wrong so that you could avoid this sort of thing in the future.
A case could be made that both of these are reasonable approaches. After all, you will need to find an alternative way home if your vehicle is no longer available to you. But we would argue that the second approach—the one in which you actively respond to the problem—is the better one.
This informed v. responsive, or passive v. active, comparison applies to substance use disorder treatment, too. Trauma-informed treatment is good, but trauma-responsive treatment is better.
Informed vs. Responsive: Detailing the Difference
The experience of traumatic events has been convincingly connected to an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder. That is why the majority of addiction treatment centers and their staff members can be accurately described as “trauma-informed”—meaning their philosophy and methodology for treating substance use disorders is informed by the traumas that may underlie a person’s addiction.
In contrast, a treatment center and staff that seeks to be trauma-responsive anticipates and adequately addresses the potential that their clients have experienced trauma. They seek to mitigate the effect of that trauma by making carefully considered adjustments throughout the entire organization.
And this is no small task. Rethinking how services are provided is challenging and requires an organization-wide understanding of and commitment to trauma-responsive care. Everything—from how the phone is answered to website design to parking lot lighting—must be fully considered and brought into alignment with a trauma-responsive approach.
This means that everyone—maintenance staff members, the board of directors, the administrative staff, the doctors and counselors, and more—must be on board with the organization’s efforts to create and maintain an ethos of trauma-responsiveness.
Trauma-Responsiveness Is Not Just Outward Facing
Of course, the reason an organization adopts a policy of trauma-responsiveness is to offer the most effective and compassionate care to those seeking treatment for a substance use disorder. But for trauma-responsiveness to be fully integrated into an organization, its concepts must also apply to the workplace and employees. The organization must create an environment that fosters healthy conflict resolution, interpersonal communication, and attentiveness to everyone’s safety and well-being.
Put more simply: trauma-responsiveness can be helpful to everyone who comes into contact with an organization—from staff member to client.
The Aviary Recovery Center Is Committed to Trauma-Responsiveness
The Aviary Recovery Center is wholly committed to trauma-responsive care. If you are searching for a treatment center (for yourself or for someone you care about), we encourage you to ask about Aviary’s philosophy regarding trauma–especially if you know that traumatic experiences are contributing to your or your loved one’s current struggles with a substance use disorder.
At the Aviary, we are responsive to the array of challenges you are presently facing as well as those you may have faced in the past. Together, we can build a foundation that will support your long-term sobriety.