Breaking Free: Trauma-Informed Addiction Treatment in Spain

The link between trauma and substance abuse is complex. To better understand it, we must thoroughly understand both factors – trauma and addiction – and why they frequently overlap.

In a society so used to suppressing symptoms (there’s a pill for everything!), understanding trauma and choosing addiction treatments that address past traumatic experiences is a relatively new idea.

Renowned speaker, bestselling author, and retired physician Dr Gabor Maté worked for over ten years in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients who struggled with both drug addiction and mental illness. Dr Maté’s research has been ground-breaking in changing how clients with mental illness and addiction are treated.

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, Dr Gabor Maté writes:

“Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. A hurt is at the center of all addictive behaviors. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the neurobiology of addiction in the brain.” 

The link between trauma and addiction 

Research has shown that trauma and addiction are often linked. This correlation is because those who have experienced trauma are at a higher risk of developing addictive behaviours

Trauma can refer to any experience that is emotionally or physically distressing and is not limited to the following but includes:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Serious accidents or injuries
  • Terrorism or war
  • Witnessing violence or death
  • Natural disaster
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Hospitalisation
Image of a woman alone and depressed

Trauma can cause significant psychological distress and may trigger various negative emotions, including anxiety, depression, and shame.

Some people turn to drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances to cope with the intense emotional pain caused by their trauma. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies reports that up to 75% of those who have survived abusive or violent traumatic experiences use alcohol “problematically.”

This statistic is shocking but not surprising.

Using drugs and alcohol can temporarily relieve emotional pain and ease other related trauma symptoms but will ultimately worsen the long-term effects of trauma. In addition, substance abuse can have serious consequences on other areas in a person’s life, including:

  • Physical health problems
  • Psychological health problems
  • Broken relationships
  • Financial problems
  • Legal issues

Furthermore, trauma and addiction can create a deadly cycle where addiction exacerbates trauma symptoms, and trauma triggers a desire to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. In other words, the substance serves as a coping mechanism, but this doesn’t work long-term—addiction will always worsen the initial issue over time.

So, what’s the solution?

Addressing the issues of trauma and addiction simultaneously is essential to achieving successful long-term recovery.

Effective, evidence-based approaches include:

  • Talk therapies, including cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
  • Experiential therapies, such as EMDR and EAP
  • Support groups
  • Medications to address specific symptoms or chemical imbalances in the brain

What is trauma-informed addiction treatment?

Trauma-informed addiction treatment is an approach to treating addiction that recognizes the impact of trauma on an individual’s substance use and recovery. It is a person-centred approach that seeks to create a safe and supportive environment for those who have experienced trauma.

The goal of trauma-informed addiction treatment is to address the underlying causes of addiction, which may include:

  • Unresolved trauma
  • Co-occurring mental health issues
  • Environmental factors

This approach aims to create a sense of safety, trust, and empowerment for the individual while also promoting healing and recovery.

Trauma-informed addiction treatment shifts the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What has happened to you?”

Some key elements of trauma-informed addiction treatment include:


Trauma-informed addiction treatment recognizes that individuals who have experienced trauma may feel unsafe, so creating a safe environment is essential. This may involve using non-restraint techniques and creating an atmosphere of trust and understanding.

Trustworthiness and transparency

Trauma-informed addiction treatment seeks to build trust with individuals by being transparent about the treatment process and providing clear information about what to expect.

Empowerment and choice

Trauma-informed addiction treatment recognizes that individuals who have experienced trauma may feel a loss of control over their lives. Therefore, providing individuals with control and choice over their treatment is essential.

Trauma Treatment Program

Collaboration and mutuality

Clients are experts in their own experiences. Therefore, trauma-informed addiction treatment seeks to collaborate with them in the treatment process. This may involve working with individuals to develop treatment plans and goals personalised to their needs.

Cultural, historical, and gender issues

A variety of factors, including language, gender, race, and cultural differences, can trigger trauma. As such, trauma-informed care seeks to be culturally sensitive and inclusive.

Understanding the impact of trauma

Trauma-informed addiction treatment recognizes that trauma can profoundly impact individuals and seeks to understand the physical, emotional, psychological, and social effects of trauma.

A holistic approach

Trauma-informed addiction treatment takes a holistic approach, recognizing that addiction and trauma can affect all areas of an individual’s life. Therefore, this treatment seeks to address the whole person and consider the physical, emotional, psychological, and social effects of trauma.

By addressing trauma and addiction together, trauma-informed addiction treatment can help individuals achieve lasting recovery and healing.

Trauma-informed addiction treatment in Spain

Spain has a long history of providing world-class addiction treatment, and many of the approaches used in Spain have been based on the traditional 12-step model. However, there has been a growing recognition that a trauma-informed approach is an important addition to traditional addiction treatment methods.

Trauma-informed care is a holistic approach that focuses on the whole person and takes into account the many effects of trauma, including:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
  • Social

At Camino Recovery in Spain, we offer trauma-informed addiction treatment that seeks to empower our clients by giving them a sense of control over their treatment. This may involve providing clients with information about their treatment options and involving them in the decision-making process.

Our trauma-informed treatment program also recognizes that trauma can be triggered by a variety of factors, including differences in:

  • Language
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Culture

As such, we aim to be culturally sensitive and inclusive, recognizing that trauma and addiction are not one-size-fits-all issues.

Trauma-informed therapies available at Camino Recovery in Spain?

Our trauma-informed therapies are evidence-based and effective in treating both trauma and addiction. They include:


Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours. It can be used to treat both trauma and addiction by helping individuals identify and challenge the beliefs and behaviours that contribute to their symptoms.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

This therapy focuses on developing skills to manage intense emotions and improve relationships. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have experienced trauma and struggle with regulating their emotions.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR therapy involves using eye movements to help individuals process traumatic memories and reduce their emotional distress. EMDR has been shown to be effective in treating trauma and addiction.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT)

This type of therapy is specifically designed to help individuals who have experienced trauma. It involves a combination of cognitive-behavioural techniques and exposure therapy to help individuals process traumatic memories and improve their coping skills.

Somatic Experiencing (SE)

This body-based therapy focuses on helping individuals release physical tension and stored trauma in the body. It can be particularly helpful for individuals who have experienced trauma and struggle with chronic pain or physical symptoms.

Mindfulness-Based Therapy

Mindfulness-based therapies are delivered through a variety of techniques, including meditation. Mindfulness therapies include both attention and acceptance and can be useful when used in combination with other therapies.

These are just a few examples of trauma-informed therapies that we use to effectively treat clients experiencing trauma and addiction simultaneously. 

It’s important to work with a qualified therapist who can help you determine which type of therapy is best for your individual needs.

Camino Recovery

How can Camino Recovery help?

Thousands of people worldwide travel to Spain to attend residential rehab centres, and Camino Recovery is one of them.

Camino Recovery offers tailored, individualised treatment plans in a stunning, tranquil location. Our professional clinical team utilises trauma-informed addiction treatment which includes:

Camino Recovery offers trauma-informed therapy because we believe that when you “resolve the trauma, you resolve the problem.”  

If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma and addiction, please know you are not alone. Camino Recovery’s clinical team is here to help you every step of the way.

Contact one of our specialists at Camino Recovery today to learn more about our treatment programs.

Ameet Braich - Camino Recovery Spain

Ameet Singh Braich, a distinguished Clinical Director at Camino Recovery, is renowned for expertise in addiction and trauma resolution. With 15+ years of experience, he transforms lives through a holistic therapeutic approach. His research focuses on childhood maltreatment's impact on cognitive, emotional, and social functioning.

A dynamic speaker and trainer, Ameet empowers clients to achieve lasting recovery, prioritizing trauma resolution and relapse prevention. His diverse training includes EAP, crisis intervention, and EMDR. Committed to positive transformation, Ameet equips individuals across fields to address challenges of addiction.

More from Ameet Braich

Get in Touch

We treat all of our clients with the utmost care, dignity and respect. Call now for a totally confidential, no obligation conversation with one of our professionals.

Whether you’re calling for yourself or someone you know, you needn’t suffer alone.

If you or someone you know could benefit from our services please do not hesitate to contact us.