Session to Understand Addiction and Recovery Offered at Phoenix WBC

James Bosch and Megan Bronson facilitated an insightful session at Phoenix WBC with the discussion topic: "Addiction and Recovery: Understanding the role of Same in Perpetuating the Addictive Process".  Although substance abuse and addiction are prevalent in the burn community, it is not frequently discussed.  This session at Phoenix World Burn Congress offered the opportunity for attendees and professionals to discuss, ask questions, and gain understanding of the role of addiction and substance abuse as a survival response to a life-threatening situation such as burn trauma.

Megan Bronson led the discussion on the dynamics of shame and addiction.  She explained the difference between shame and guilt, and how shame may inhibit burn recovery.   Guilt, she clarified, is a message from our inner moral compass that says we are doing something wrong.  Whereas shame is a deep, innate message to our core selves that we ourselves are bad, flawed, or unworthy.   Burn survivors may face an additional challenge with posttraumatic shame when the response of the public to visible differences such as scars, facial difference, loss of limbs, lead to a loss of anonymity and the possibility of unwanted negative responses. Public humiliation, such as staring, teasing, name-calling, intrusive questions, and bullying, can further traumatize the burn-injured person.

James Bosch further explored the topic with the audience by explaining how substances are often used for the purpose of medicating or numbing the pain of past or recent traumas.  James said, "By understanding our substance use as a coping mechanism, albeit an unhealthy one, we can start to release from the shame and begin learning other ways to cope." 

Megan and James led the group through a discussion of various options that are available to understand the behaviors - and stop the destructive substance abuse.   And they advised that there is not 'just one way'  there are many ways to approach healing from shame and addiction. The important thing is to find one that speaks to you.

Megan and James recently co-authored an article in Burn Support Magazine, Issue 1, 2015 "Breaking Free of the Addiction-Shame Cycle".  Download the article for additional insight and understanding on the topic of shame and addiction and find useful suggestions and resources on breaking the cycle of addiction.  Find more information at our online Resources Library.

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