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410 | Young Adults and Adolescents vs. the Hydra, the Multi-headed Beast: Trauma, Addictions, Dopamine Depletion, and Spiritual Emptiness

Friday 9/15 2:15 – 3:30 PM, Workshop Tracks, Youth and Family Development: Issues and Interventions


Adrian Hickmon, Ph.D.



Approved For CE

Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Chemical Dependency Counselors, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, Coaches

Approved For CME/CEU

Medical Doctors, Osteopathic Doctors, Physicians Assistants, Midwives, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners




With addictions, depression, anxiety, and suicide on a fast rise with Millennials and Generation Z, it is vital we understand that addiction is not an entity within itself but, instead, part of a toxic choreography spawned by attempts to overcome previously unresolvable struggles with distress and pain. To paint a picture that helps psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders understand what they are up against, this workshop makes the comparison to a Hydra, the mythical four-headed snake. This evil axis of unhealed trauma and its toxic shame, emptiness, dopamine deficiency, and addictions create a multi-battlefront war where each must be won, or all is lost. Too often in professional therapy and churches, sobriety is not only the primary focus but is the only focus. Participants are encouraged to see a paradigm shift toward seeing addictions and mental illnesses as adaptive survival responses to overwhelming and unbearable experiences. This workshop provides a conceptual framework that helps participants make sense of clients’ struggles, de-pathologizes their survival efforts, and respectfully guides the healing process on all fronts in a way that makes suffering count and recovery last.

Learning Objectives

1. Describe the neurobiology of addiction, depression, and anxiety
2. Explain dopamine down-regulation in the development and maintenance of depression, anxiety, and addiction
3. Discuss the repercussions of unhealed trauma from a Polyvagal Theory perspective
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