The Six Principles of Trauma-Informed Care for Addiction Treatment Centers

March 1, 2024by Jerald Mackey0

According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced at least one traumatic event. Individuals who’ve experienced trauma are four times more likely to suffer from alcoholism and four times more likely to use illicit drugs. Any given treatment center today probably has at least one victim of trauma among its clients.

To better cope with victims of trauma, medical professionals are practicing what has become known as trauma-informed care, or TIC. Trauma-informed care emphasizes the physical, psychological, and emotional safety of patients in all aspects of treatment, not necessarily treating the original trauma but rather managing the symptoms of trauma.

Trauma-informed care is based on six primary principles. Treatment centers that recognize and adhere to these principles will better treat victims of trauma and avoid retraumatizing those individuals.

1. Safety

The first principle of TIC is safety. Victims of trauma need to feel physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe and secure when in the care of healthcare professionals. Providing clients with a safe space for care is especially important; public and private spaces should be well-lit with low noise levels. For some clients, keeping a door open or not standing between the individual and the door is crucial.

This need for a safe space can be compromised when collecting urine samples for drug testing. Traditionally, viewed urine collection has been used to ensure against urine tampering. However, having a staff member in the same room while the client is providing their sample goes against the TIC principle of physical safety. Some individuals might be retraumatized if forced to provide a viewed urine sample.

The solution to this dilemma is to employ a different method for validating urine samples. Valley Medical Laboratory’s vTOX® urine testing uses DNA sampling to validate client urine specimens. After the client provides an initial DNA sample via a simple cheek swab, the DNA in all subsequent urine samples is compared to that initial DNA sample. You no longer need to view the urine collection to ensure its validity; that verification is done in our labs using the client’s DNA.

For this reason, vTOX® DNA-verified urine drug testing is the ideal solution for treatment centers practicing trauma-informed care. It helps treatment centers provide the safe space that victims of trauma need.

2. Trustworthiness and Transparency

Transparency in care and decision-making is necessary to build trust with victims of trauma. That means informing clients of what to expect before, during, and after exams and procedures. It also helps to talk clients through tasks or procedures as they’re being performed. Make sure the client is fully informed of and aware of everything you do.

3. Peer Support

Gaining the support of other clients can help victims of trauma better navigate their treatment experience. Whether one-on-one or via larger support groups, trauma victims can relate to and benefit from the shared experiences of others.

4. Collaboration and Mutuality

In providing trauma-informed care, providers and facilities should view clients as partners in developing treatment plans. Providers and staff should strive to minimize power imbalances with clients by being respectful, empathetic, non-shaming, and non-blaming. Clients should feel as though they are active participants in their care and treatment.

5. Empowerment Voice and Choice

Clients should feel empowered to take control of their care and well-being. That means keeping clients well-informed of all aspects of their care, encouraging questions, and making them aware of their rights and options.

6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues

The final principle of trauma-informed care is recognizing and eliminating any potential cultural, racial, gender, or other related biases in client care. This means understanding the cultural and social issues that impact one’s response to trauma and actively accommodating clients’ unique needs. This can include respecting clients’ cultural backgrounds and traditions, asking how they identify and what pronouns they prefer, and communicating with them in their preferred language.

For example, LGBTQIA+ individuals often feel discomforted or discriminated against during the process of viewed urine collection, especially if the person viewing the collection does not share the client’s gender identity. Moving away from viewed urine collection, by using vTOX® DNA-verified urine drug testing, recognizes and eliminates this type of gender-related issue.

Let Valley Medical and vTOX® Help Your Facility Provide Quality Trauma-Informed Care

Valley Medical Laboratory is a strong supporter of trauma-informed care in addiction treatment. Our vTOX® DNA-verified urine drug testing eliminates the need for viewed urine collection and any associated trauma. Contact us today to learn more about how vTOX® can help your treatment center implement trauma-informed care and about the other toxicology testing services we offer.

Jerald Mackey

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