This rock sculpture was in a riverbed in Sedona, in a quiet, secluded spot with literally hundreds of similar rock sculptures. It struck me how so many people went through the same experience in this spot building their own unique “monuments”. And how it is a great metaphor for therapy — reshaping yourself or rebuilding your life.
Substance Abuse Counseling
Substance abuse is defined as the “continual misuse of any mind altering substance which severely interferes with an individual’s physical and mental health, social situation, and responsibilities”. It is a pattern of use that persists even when there are negative consequences to the user and those around him.
Substance abuse often leads to addiction where there is not only an increase in tolerance, but also withdrawal symptoms when the substance is no longer being used.
Alcohol abuse is the most common problem, but substance abuse can occur with any drug such as marijuana, prescription medications, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, heroin, or volatile substances as glue and aerosols.
Substance Abuse Treatment
Substance abuse can and should be addressed and treated at any of the stages of abuse – experimentation, regular use, risky use, dependence, or addiction. Despite popular belief, people do not need to “hit bottom” before they can benefit from help. The earlier substance abuse is addressed, the better. The longer it continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the more difficult it becomes to treat.
The process of treatment involves addressing physical issues along with the mental reasons behind substance abuse. Addiction is a powerful driving force that can lead to many negative events in your life.
There are many reasons behind the abuse of drugs, from self-medication to chasing the next high. No matter what the reason may be, the effect is often the same. Those around you can get hurt and you will likely alienate yourself from others. People use substances in order to gain a feeling of well being or of being in control, but ultimately it leads to a life that is spinning out of control, and eventually it will damage your health.
Substance abuse leads to many problems, from physical effects of increased poisoning and the effect on others as your behavior changes in order to support your habit. Without treatment, substance abuse can destroy the people around you, your reputation, your health, and eventually, it will claim your life.
By participating in therapy you are making a commitment to your recovery from addiction. The counseling process is a place to get support and to hold yourself accountable for truly caring for yourself by getting help. I frequently work with people in recovery who are – at the same time – participating in 12-Step and other chemical dependency recovery or support groups.
If you are a family member seeking help for a loved one, it is important to remember that treatment for substance abuse does not have to be initiated by the abuser to be successful. People who are pressured or encouraged into treatment by their family, employer, or the legal system are just as likely to benefit as those that enter treatment on their own. As they sober up and their thinking clears, many formerly resistant individuals decide they want to change.
The recovery process occurs as you gain awareness and manage your behavior in terms of:
- Abstaining from alcohol and drugs
- Separating from negative influences and establishing social networks that are supportive of recovery
- Stopping self-defeating behaviors
- Learning to manage feelings and emotions responsibly
- Learning to change addictive thinking problems
- Identifying and changing mistaken core beliefs that promote irrational thinking
Recovery from substance abuse can be a long process that often involves setbacks. Relapse does not mean that treatment has failed or that you are a lost cause. Rather, it is a signal to get back on track, either by going back to treatment, or by adjusting the treatment approach. Thinking that because treatment did not work before there is no point in trying again – that some cases are hopeless – is wrong thinking.
I will encourage and support you as you work your way free of substance abuse and maladaptive behaviors that threaten to steal your life and your sanity. I truly value the opportunity to work with you to realize your goal of a better life by helping you develop new coping skills and maintaining the ground you gain.
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