Trauma Symptoms and the Brain
Drug/Substance Abuse
Drugs Effect on the Brain
Resources/ Prevention

Which is not a trauma symptom: A) nightmares and difficulty sleeping, B) watching excessive amounts of TV or videogames, C) difficulty concentrating or staying focused, D) recurring upsetting memories

B! Watching excessive amount of TV or playing videogames is not a symptom of trauma


What does TF-CBT stand for?

Bonus: What does PTSD stand for?

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Bonus: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


How does living with a drug or alcohol addicted parent affect children?

Children may feel unsafe in the home, engage in self-blame, difficulties with school and friends, difficulties dealing with emotions, depression and low self-esteem.


How do drugs and alcohol affect a person?

Drugs and alcohol can cause a person to become paranoid (always thinking someone is after them), aggressive (hitting or yelling at others), forget their responsibilities (like basic needs of children), and not in control of themselves.


What is Al-Anon?

Bonus: What is AA?

Al-Anon is support group for families and children who have a family member who was or is addicted to alcohol. 

Bonus: AA stands for Alcoholics Anonymous and is a support group for those struggling or recovering from alcohol abuse.


What is a trauma?


True/False: Confidentiality looks the same for TF-CBT as it does for any other therapy.

False! TF-CBT is a collaborative model that works with parents/caregivers and children, so it will involve sharing what is discussed with parents throughout the process within conjoint and parent sessions so caregivers are able to provide support and assist children with managing and reducing symptoms.


Repeated drug and alcohol use causes chemical dependency, or lasting changes to the way the brain functions and operates. 

True or False?

True!  In fact, all abused substances alter the areas of the brain responsible for self-control, judgment, emotional regulation, motivation, memory and learning by hijacking the brain’s normal reward pathways. 


What is addiction?

Which drugs can you become addicted to and which do you not?

Addiction is a chronic (lifelong) condition that involves compulsive seeking and taking of a substance or performing of an activity despite negative or harmful consequences

You can become addicted to all types of illegal and legal drugs and alcohol, such as heroine, marijuana, prescription opiods, stimulants, alcohol, and so many more.


It's okay and encouraged to stop most drugs cold turkey.

True or False?

False! Certain substances can create withdrawal that can be dangerous. Special hospital units practice monitoring and therapy to care for you while you go through substance withdrawal. 

Some drugs that require assistance with withdrawals are alcohol dependence, methamphetamines, and heroine.


Complex trauma means:

A) taking an extended period of time to move past and talk about your trauma.

B) exposure to multiple trauma events or experiences

B! Complex trauma means that someone has experienced multiple traumas.

20% of all youth experience complex trauma.


True/False: It will only take about 12-20 sessions to complete the TF-CBT model.

True! TF-CBT takes from 12-20 sessions which is about 3-4 months to complete. However, you will begin to notice reduction in trauma symptoms before the end of treatment.


Is addiction a disease?

Yes, addiction is a disease — it’s a chronic condition. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as a chronic brain disorder. Addiction doesn’t happen from having a lack of willpower or as a result of making bad decisions. Your brain chemistry changes with addiction. 



What parts of the brain do drugs effect? 

Drugs affect three primary areas of the brain: the brain stem, the limbic system, and the cerebral cortex.



Name three ways to treat or manage substance addiction.

Hospital management, medications, rehabilitation centers, therapy (CBT or group), support groups (AA, NA, Al-Anon).


True/False: Trauma changes the way the brain works.

True! When you experience a trauma the prefrontal cortex (reasoning, judgement and thinking part of the brain) shuts down and the amygdala (fear center) and brain stem activate to prepare your body for fight, flight, or freeze (survival mode).


Fill in the blanks: In TF-CBT, children will become the master of their _____, ______,  and _____ related to their trauma symptoms.

Thoughts, feelings, and symptoms.

Throughout TF-CBT, children will be taking back their power over their trauma experience.


Caffeine, Alcohol, and prescription medications are not considered addictive drugs or even drugs at all.

True or False?

False! Caffeine, alcohol, and precripition medications are listed amongst the list with marijuana, cocaine, and opoids as addictive drugs.


What 4 neurotransmitters are directly effected by drug use in the brain?

-Dopamine: This neurotransmitter regulates moods, enhances pleasure, and is involved with movement, reward and reinforcing behaviors, motivation, and attention.

  • Drugs that can impact dopamine levels: Marijuana, heroin & other opioids, stimulants, ecstasy, PCP

-Serotonin: This neurotransmitter is responsible for stabilizing moods and regulating emotions.

  • Drugs that can impact serotonin levels: ecstasy and hallucinogens

-Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): GABA acts as a natural tranquilizer, mitigating the stress response and lowering anxiety levels as well as slowing down functions of the central nervous system.

  • Drugs that can impact GABA levels: benzodiazepines

-Norepinephrine: Similar to adrenaline, norepinephrine is often called the “stress hormone,” as it speeds up the central nervous system in response to the “fight-or-flight” response. It also homes focus and attention while increasing energy levels.

  • Drugs that can impact norepinephrine levels: opioids and ecstasy

What does SAMHSA stand for and what do they do?

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is a free National Helpline, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.



Can you show me the hand model of the brain?


Why is it important for caregivers to be involved in TF-CBT treatment?

It is important for caregivers to be involved in treatment because they will be learning how to support and assist child with managing their symptoms, thoughts and feelings. When caregivers are involved in treatment is helps to reduce feelings of self-blame, shame, and distorted thoughts with child.


Marijuana use is the most commonly addictive drugs.

True or False?

False! Alcohol use disorder is the most common substance addiction in the United States, followed by nicotine and marijuana. About 10% of people aged 12 or older in the U.S. have alcohol use disorder.


How do drugs affect the brain?

When drugs enter the brain, they interfere with its normal processing and can eventually lead to changes in how well it works.

There are at least two ways the drugs work in the brain:

  • They imitate the brain’s natural chemical messengers
  • They over-stimulate the brain’s “reward” circuit
  • Normally, the reward circuit responds to feelings of pleasure by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Drugs take control of this system, causing large amounts of dopamine to flood the system. This flood of dopamine is what causes the “high” or intense excitement and happiness (sometimes called euphoria) linked with drug use.

-After repeated drug use, the brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine. As a result, dopamine’s impact on the reward circuit of the brain of someone who abuses drugs can become abnormally low, and that person’s ability to experience any pleasure is reduced.


Knowing and understanding your family's history can prevent drug addiction.

True or False?

True! If you have a family history of substance use disorders or behavioral addictions, you may be more vulnerable. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to lower your risk. 

Other ways to prevent addiction are:

Healthily managing stress and limiting or avoiding substances with an addiction potential. 

The risk of substance use increases greatly during times of stress and change. It’s important to turn to healthy coping mechanisms during these times, such as exercising, meditating or learning a new hobby.

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