Psychology speaker covers trauma and addiction

Saddleback College hosted another edition of their Psych Talks Speaker Series on Tuesday, April 12 in room 208 of the Health Sciences building. This particular talk was hosted by Gina Tabrizy, marriage and family therapist for Harmony Heals Counseling Center and covered the relationship that trauma has to addiction.

The main thesis of the talk discussed how trauma can often go overlooked as trigger that leads to addiction. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be developed from a vast array of events which can leave people weak and result in them turning to unhealthy habits.

“When I talk about recovery, I’m referring to not just substances, food, sex or gambling. I’m also talking about spiritual and emotional recovery,” Tabrizy said.

She explained how trauma is deeply connected to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs not being met. At the most basic level, people must be have the basics such as food, water and shelter covered. However what many don’t realize is that a lack of emotional fulfillment in the form of love and support is also capable of creating long-term distress.

Another overlooked component she highlighted is PTSD and trauma do not always have to originate from instances one was personally involved in. People can often succumb to them by witnessing a stressful event that effected them deeply. The feeling of helplessness in these situations is just as present for an outside party.

Tabrizy explained how she could personally relate to this, having a previous history of relationships with addicts and alcoholics.

“It’s the excitement of being around the chaos and instability of the addiction,” she said. “Underneath that, I’m dependent on a human being who’s dependent on substances. You need the substances to feel better about you, I need you to feel better about me.”

The rest of the lecture was spent identifying roots and symptoms of trauma and how depression is often the emotion that bridges it to addiction. Tabrizy emphasized how people tend to cope with trauma in harmful ways such as shame, emotional detachment, guarded behavior and resistance to change.

The talk then focused on addiction and how it naturally comes later, as it is often a reaction to a deeper problem. She described it as “an illusion of nirvana” that numbs the memories and feelings that represent reality. People can also be genetically predisposed to addction, which is why she stressed the importance of awareness and treatment.

The Psych Talks Speaker Series will be wrapping up on Thursday April 21 which will feature Emily Urban, a psychology professor at UCI. The talk will cover the link between memory, emotion and well-being and will take place in room 212 of the Student Services Center.