I am 41 years old and just now have pinpointed that I may have trauma from when I was a teenager.

I have some trauma from when I was a teenager that I believe I have been running from for years. I have always run towards alcohol and affection from other people. I want to correct my drinking, but I feel like I need to deal with my trauma too. I live in an isolated part of the US where there aren't really any therapists around. Where can I start and is there anything I can do on my own?
Asked by mmm

Hello, I'm sorry to hear about your struggle. It's really common for people who experience trauma to have some unhealthy coping skills (like drinking too much, or seeking attention/affection from other people). There are definitely some things you can do to try and take better care of yourself while you're trying to work through the trauma. Some of the things you can do are pretty basic self-care skills (like eating well, exercising, getting good nutrition), and some things may push you outside of your comfort zone a little (like getting involved in some kind of supportive community). Even in rural areas, there can be places for you to go to get into some of this healing stuff.  I know in my state, there is a Recovery Center in every county, where people can go to engage in supportive groups or supportive one-on-one coaching. If there's nothing like that close to you, the internet can offer a whole world of these kinds of supports. I know during the pandemic, there was an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting starting every hour online. There are also other kinds of online groups, like SMART (which stands for Self Management and Recovery Training) that use Cognitive-Behavioral tools, or Refuge Recovery, which uses Mindfulness and Meditation.

One of my favorite quotes that I've heard is that the opposite of addiction isn't sobriety, it's connection.  This connection can also be really important to try and find when you're healing from trauma. Knowing there are other people out there in the world who are supportive and caring, despite what you've been through and what you've done to try and stop the pain from the trauma can be so helpful. Also, knowing there are many other people who have also gone through traumatic experiences and have also used unhealthy coping skills can be very validating.  Ultimately though, trying to find more healthy ways to cope and heal is a great goal! Sometimes, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can include trying to give back to your community or the world in some way through volunteering or through some kind of service, which can be a huge part of the healing process. When I was working at a Recovery Center in my community, we had a whole team of volunteers who reported getting a lot out of spending time at the center helping other people who have just started their recovery journey...there's something about going through the pain and suffering of addiction that leads people to try to help other people in a similar situation. It not only uses the knowledge you have gained to inform others, but  it can also be a strong motivator to stay sober, if there are other people looking up to you as a sober guide.

Those are some ideas I have for you, I hope they have helped in some way!