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Addiction isn't a choice but getting help is
Drugs and alcohol promise to help you feel better but leave you with nothing in the end
Many people consider substance use treatment because people they care about have expressed concern. Far too many relationships have been destroyed by using, drinking, and addiction. People have lost their marriages, friends, families, money, jobs, homes, health, and more. You may not be at that point yet but perhaps you can feel some control slipping away.
Sometimes rock bottom comes a lot faster than people think
Maybe you’re noticing gradual changes like lying about or hiding your use from others, spending a concerning amount of money on drugs, and letting things slip through the cracks at work or home.
From My Blog
Perhaps you've driven when you really weren’t ok to or been visibly impaired around your kids. You might be developing some medical concerns or no longer getting the same good feelings that you used to when under the influence. It may be that you don’t even know how to have a good time without getting drunk or high anymore.
Struggling with drinking and drug use may be a lot more common than you realize
Substances that are prone to abuse all release an unnatural amount of dopamine in the brain. Scientists have discovered that dopamine isn’t only for pleasure, it’s actually our brain’s way of marking something as important for survival. You won’t consciously think of the substance as something you need to survive, but once the reward system in your brain makes that connection, it can make all kinds of excuses and exceptions to justify continued use despite the consequences.
One in ten Americans have had a substance use problem at some point in their life (1).
Breaking out of this pattern can become quite difficult very quickly. Genetics make some people significantly more likely to develop this pattern so comparing your use to those around you isn’t always logical since you may suffer from a predisposition while others don’t.
You don't have to let substances take anything from you
It is very rare to find any addiction treatment center that does not emphasize the importance of these approaches for substance use. This is because both Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy have been well-studied and proven highly effective (2,3). I completed intensive postgraduate training in both of these modalities as well as comprehensive additional training in the process of becoming a licensed addictions counselor. CBT provides a solid framework for understanding and rationally responding to your thoughts around use as well as thoughts about yourself that contribute to it.
I guide clients through this framework and help them identify their unhealthy thoughts, rational responses to them, and the unhealthy core beliefs that create them. Then I help clients identify their unique healthy replacement beliefs and understand how to shift their baseline thought patterns to strengthen them.
By actively increasing mindfulness of your thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and consequences, you can address underlying factors leading you to use as well as the lies you may be telling yourself about your use and the exceptions and excuses that your brain keeps coming up with.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy provides a complex system called chain analysis that helps you break down the overall patterns of the behavior including the thoughts, emotions, and actions that are involved in your use.
As substance use treatment provider with advanced DBT training, I facilitate this entire process as well as identifying healthy replacement skills that can be implemented along every step in the chain or pattern of relapse. You can develop skills to reduce vulnerability, respond to irrational thoughts, manage difficult emotions in healthy ways, and ultimately choose healthier behaviors. DBT also contains additional skills that help specifically with substance use including coping ahead, acceptance, abstinence in the face of slip-ups, and how to deal with difficult cravings.
Even though it is common for people to want to believe all they need to do is just simply stop using or drinking, the reality is most people need to learn a lot of new skills because addiction is quite real and behavior change is typically surprisingly difficult. As a well trained and experienced addictions counselor, I have an extensive understanding of these challenges and how to overcome them.
I provide support with understanding and integrating CBT and DBT skills that goes way beyond what one can achieve on their own. I guide clients through the skills and framework with expertise and compassion as well as provide gentle accountability by suggesting things to practice and following up on how they went. Even if you can do it on your own, you will find it far more manageable with my help.
Addressing some common concerns when considering substance use treatment
Just because someone else is upset, or something small happened one time, that doesn’t mean I need therapy
Too many people wait too long to start getting help because it’s so common to cling to the notion, “that’s not really me, I’m not that bad, I don’t have problems like that.” But you don’t have to lose everything to be at serious risk of losing something. If your loved ones or friends or someone at work has expressed some concerns about your use, you’re probably inclined to blow it off as hyperbolic. But the changes in the brain due to excess dopamine cause people to lose objectivity about their own behavior and consequence.
People in denial about real issues with their use is a cliché because it's true to life.
A good majority of the time, if someone notices an issue, they’re not imagining it. If you are already noticing some consequences yourself, you’re likely not imagining it either. Numerous people have found themselves in a dynamic where part of their brain is saying, “maybe I have a problem,” and part is saying, “nah, I’ve got this.” But no one who gets help with their substance use says they wish they had waited until things got worse.
No one is going to tell me that I can never
drink or use drugs again
I won’t try to make decisions for you. As your substance abuse counselor, I will support your goals and not push you with my own agenda. You won't be pressured to commit to total sobriety for the rest of your life. Instead, I take the approach of, “one moment at a time, one day at a time.” My job isn’t to judge or shame you or perpetuate the senseless stigma around substance use. I’m here to meet you wherever you are at in the process and with your goals.
If you choose a harm reduction approach, I will support that as well. If you want to use again some day, then I’ll provide a safe and nonjudgmental space to process that decision without deriding it.
The truth is I can’t imagine my life without
drinking or getting high
I know this process can seem very scary. It typically requires a lot of major changes in your lifestyle which are difficult to make. But if this is how you already feel about your use, you may be on the road to losing practically everything if you don’t make changes soon. When I provide substance use treatment, the purpose isn’t only to simply quit but to work on building a better life than you had before. The process involves resolving the points of pain in your life that make use look so appealing.
Therapy can help you figure out how to create a new life for yourself in which you are ready to experience it fully. I can also help you find communities of people who are also going through recovery so you can have lots of support outside of our sessions.
Make the choice to get help overcoming addiction
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