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Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Often, substance use disorders are a behavioral issue that begins with maladaptive coping due to trauma, eventually becoming its own neurobiological disorder. Therefore, we address the different neural pathways for trauma and substance use disorders. At Hills, we use an integrative approach, incorporating brain, body, mind, spirit, and social connections to aid in your recovery.

“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.”

— Pema Chodrön

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use disorder can begin with occasional alcohol use, experimental use of a recreational drug, or even prescription medications, often as a way to escape from emotional or physical pain. If you start using the substance more frequently, you can end up unable to control your use, even if it’s causing you harm. Over time, you may find you need larger amounts or combinations of substances to get the same effect. Trying to stop substance use can cause withdrawal symptoms, like intense cravings and illness. Overcoming substance use disorders requires a commitment to your recovery process, help from health professionals, and your support network.


  • Consuming large amounts of alcohol or substances and struggling to stop using them
  • Trying and failing to cut down on or control alcohol or substance use
  • Spending lots of time obtaining and using alcohol or substances
  • Craving alcohol or substances frequently
  • Continuing to use alcohol or substances, even when it negatively impacts your relationships or is dangerous, like when you are driving
  • Giving up or cutting down on important social, work, or recreational activities because of alcohol use
  • Increased use of substances is causing problems in relationships, work, or social life
  • Continuing to use substances, even though they create or exacerbate psychological or medical conditions
  • Experiencing tolerance (needing higher quantities of substances over time to feel “high”)
  • Experiencing withdrawal


There is a reciprocal relationship between the mind, body, and brain, and working on all three is essential for lasting recovery. At Hills, we assess your brain function and target the underlying symptoms of your substance use disorder to help you stop taking substances. Then, we use multiple therapeutic techniques to help you change thinking and behavior patterns, as well as to help you build physical and emotional flexibility and connect with nature. The result is that you can break free from substances, live a life based on what is meaningful to you, and make valuable connections with nature and community.


Following trauma and adverse life events, some people seek relief from emotional pain through the use of alcohol and drugs. Substance use temporarily relieves discomfort, but eventually, you need more of the substance. Withdrawal symptoms cause emotional and physical symptoms, leading to more substance use. Often, substance use leads to further losses, emotional and physical pain, but now your brain, body, and mind are less able to cope, causing additional substance use. Approximately one-third to one-half of severely traumatized people develop substance use problems (Sokhadze, Cannon, Trudeau, 2008). The healing starts when the trauma and substance use disorder is addressed. Therefore, at Hills, we focus on recovery from trauma and addiction to break this painful cycle. Free yourself from the past by living fully in the present, one hill at a time.

Trauma causes emotional and psychological pain and shame.

Person self-medicates with drugs, alcohol, food, etc.

Unresolved trauma and drug use control the inner world and negatively impact relationships, work, and happiness.

Emotional and psychological pain and shame worsen, and drug dependence weakens the ability to address issues.

Increased physical tolerance creates a need for larger amounts and combinations of substances.

Substance use controls a person’s life, and challenges get more overwhelming and harder to address.

Adapted from: Dayton, T. (2000). Trauma and addiction: Ending the cycle of pain through emotional literacy. Health Communications.

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