Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance Abuse Issues

I imagine that you are here because either you or someone you care about has an issue with alcohol or drugs (marijuana, cocaine, prescription medication abuse) and you suspect that counseling or psychotherapy will be helpful. The truth is, counseling for substance abuse can help people return to living productive and healthy lives.

Through drug and alcohol counseling, many times by paying attention to your usage—and addressing the issue that caused the increased usage—you can go back to “normal”. Substance abuse does not have to lead to dependence but if unattended, it might develop into a real and continual problem for you. Often, people cannot overcome a substance abuse addiction without the help of an experienced counselor or therapist.

If you find yourself identifying with even one or two of the issues on this list, you may have some bigger issues with drugs or alcohol.

Signs of Substance Abuse or Dependence

Some signs that alcohol or drugs may be a problem for you are:

  • Repeated efforts to control, modify, or reduce your drinking or drug use.
  • Preoccupation with thoughts about drinking or using drugs, like wondering or planning. when you might drink or use next, how much you will use, etc.
  • Negotiating the amounts that you will drink, smoke, or swallow.
  • Rationalizing your drinking or drug use, e.g. “I was really tired that’s why I drank so much” or “It was such a stressful day at work, that’s why I got stoned” or “If you (wife, parent, child) didn’t make me mad then I wouldn’t have gotten drunk.”
  • When you act outside of your morals and/or values while under the influence.
  • Hiding your usage.
  • Lying about your usage, either to yourself or others.
  • Continuing to perform the same behaviors that yield the same negative consequences.
  • Getting annoyed with people who are talking to you about their concerns about your drinking or drug use.
  • Needing more of a substance to yield the same effect (developing tolerance.)
  • Needing less of the substance to get the same effect (reverse tolerance.)
  • Blacking out (periods of time that one does not remember while under the influence or intoxicated). This can happen with as little as one drink depending on your tolerance or chemical makeup.
  • DUI’s (driving under the influence)—less than 2 drinks can impair your ability to drive!
  • Quitting for a period of time just to “prove” it’s not a problem.
  • Drinking or doing drugs while alone.
  • Increasing difficulty abstaining from substances.
  • More frequent and severe withdrawal symptoms (like tremors of the hands, sweating and fever.) A hangover is a type of withdrawal.
  • Anxiety and guilty feelings following your use of chemicals.
  • Drinking more than your friends do.

You may find that you can check off many of these. You may find that there are only one or two that are an issue. In either case or anything in between, it may be helpful to talk with a counselor or therapist who specializes in working with drug or alcohol issues, including abuse, dependence, or addiction.

You Can Get Better

Here is what I want you to know…you can get better! You can heal your problematic relationship with alcohol or drugs.

In psychotherapy counseling, you can heal the issues surrounding your addiction by:

  • Exploring the issues that surround your drinking, drug or substance use.
  • Looking at what might be the underlying issues that you are medicating.
  • Working on the source of the issue.

I can help you sort through all of these signs and symptoms of possible problem usage. Through treatment for your addiction, I can help you figure out what may be motivating your drug or alcohol usage and help you find ways for you to help yourself stop this very self-destructive behavior. In addiction counseling, you will learn how to stop drinking or doing drugs through behavioral changes and thoughtful suggestions along the way.

Substance Abuse and Recovery Consultation, Counseling & Therapy:

The different ways I can be of service to you or your loved one are:

Initial Assessment and Treatment recommendations:

I will do a thorough assessment of what is happening for you with drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling or other addictive behaviors or process addictions. Out of that assessment, I will offer treatment recommendations and will connect you directly to treatment centers and programs.

Psychotherapy and Counseling for Your Addiction, Substance Use Disorder or Other Process Addictions:

If therapy or counseling is recommended, I will work with you to come up with a personal treatment plan to help you get clean and sober from your addictive behaviors. I will help you find the right therapist for you, be it me or someone else.

In the therapy, together we will explore the patterns of your using/behaviors. We will look to uncover the underlying issues. In other words, what are the causal events or dynamics that fuel the desire to medicate with alcohol, drugs or other substances/behaviors.

We will work on how to stay stopped. Stopping the use or behavior can be relatively easy (it can also be extremely painful and difficult), staying stopped can be an even bigger challenge.

Together we have to explore all of the behaviors around your using and to change those behavior patterns and though patterns that promote the choice to medicate your state of being.

Working on how to TOLERATE not using is the really big work. How do you tolerate not smoking that cigarette when you feel stressed, how do you tolerate not having that first cocktail when you get home from work, how do you NOT pick up the drink, drug, porn or other behaviors when it is what you really want to do?

It is the first drink or drug that gets us drunk or stoned or binging. If we can prevent the first, then we can stay sober and clean.

I will help you to identify your feelings and to work on tolerating them so that you do not have to medicate them or yourself. We will work on healthy self-soothing behaviors, so that you don’t need the substances to self-soothe. Some self-soothing behaviors are meditating, mindfulness and exercise, but we’ll find what feels right and fits best for you.

We will work on your attitudes and behaviors. Many addicts and alcoholics have a whole host of attitudes (entitlement, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, anger and rage for example) and behaviors (stealing, lying, manipulating and cheating, for example). It can take years to change our attitudes and behaviors after we stop acting out in addictive behaviors and/or with chemicals.

We will explore Post-Acute-Withdrawal (PAWS). PAWS is a set of symptoms that occur after the initial phase of acute withdrawal from substances. PAWS can last or occur over a period of months and can include tremors, seizures, sweating, nausea, cravings, sleep disturbances, and anxiety among other symptoms.

I will work with the basic 12 Step principal of One Day at a Time, because truly that is all any of us have, and how in each day what you need to be clean and sober for that day.

12 Step support groups: we will talk about what 12 step groups might be good for you to attend to help hold you through this new phase of your life. If you have objections to 12 Step groups, we will explore those and also look into Smart Recovery. There is great benefit from being involved with a group as you work on your substance use disorder. The group can be 12 step or Smart Recovery or Therapist run support groups. It is very helpful to be around other people who suffer and struggle AND get better together.

12 Step groups are not required, but they are certainly helpful should you choose to attend them to support your ongoing recovery.