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Substance Abuse Counseling
The Need For Substance Abuse Counseling
You've come here because you or someone close to you needs substance abuse counseling because you or they have become dependent on substances. No one wants to be in this situation and didn’t think they would when they started using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. Everyone who starts using a substance thinks that they can handle it and won’t let it get out of control. But that’s easier said than done because prolonged use of substances alters brain chemistry and creates a powerful dependence we call “addiction.”
Addiction is defined as the compulsive and repeated seeking of the chemical “reward” the brain secretes despite the negative consequences. Because substance users develop a tolerance, greater amounts must be used to get the same effect. This leads to making bad choices in order to get that “reward” despite the negative consequences that may occur.
The consequences of substance abuse are many and far-reaching. Continued abuse of drugs or alcohol causes the brain cells, visceral organs, and veins to deteriorate, which results in a progressive decline in physical and mental health. This deteriorated condition affects judgment, reasoning, and memory. Drug users, especially first-time users – often teens – of hardcore drugs are highly at risk for overdose and death. In addition, there are legal consequences since many drugs are illegal, placing the user in jeopardy of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record.
The one word that is always associated with substance abuse is “loss.” The addict will invariably suffer loss in every area of his or her life: health, wealth, family, friends, trust, employment, reputation, freedom, even life itself. Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are promise-makers and promise-breakers. They promise escape from whatever it is that the user needs relief from. But rather than giving real relief, the substance steals and kills and destroys. If you know your Bible, that’s what Jesus said the devil does. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
If you suspect that someone in your life is addicted to drugs or alcohol, here are some signs to look for:
Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
Feeling sick in the morning but fine later in the day
Missing money or valuables; always short on funds
No memory of recent conversations or happenings
New drug using friends
Change in hygiene (more or less than normal)
Presence of drug paraphernalia
Absences from work or school
Substance Abuse Is Prevalent
Because of the strong emotion of shame, substance abusers don’t talk about their condition because they believe that most people don’t have this problem. So, they hide it and don’t seek the help they need. But the same devil who steals, kills, and destroys is also a liar and the father of lies, Jesus said. The truth, sadly, is that addiction is the most common behavioral health condition in America, affecting around 38% of American adults, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that substance abuse is the nation’s number one health problem, cutting across all ages, genders, levels of education, and socioeconomic status.
The COVID-19 pandemic only made substance abuse worse. With the lockdowns and work being moved in-home, drug and alcohol abuse dramatically increased. In the first year of the pandemic, there were over 99,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., an increase of nearly 30% over the year before. Seventy-five percent of those deaths were from opioids like fentanyl. Even though the pandemic is over, people who developed a substance abuse problem during the pandemic are still addicted. Many of our clients report that they were low-to-moderate alcohol users before the pandemic, but due to the stress of lockdowns, working from home, and decreases or increases in business workloads, now are alcohol abusers.
Often, substance abuse co-occurs with a mental health disorder. Current estimates are that 37.9% of everyone with a substance abuse problem have a coinciding mental illness like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder or some other personality disorder. Someone with depression, for example, often uses stimulants like amphetamines to offset the depression. Or someone with anxiety often uses depressants like alcohol or barbiturates to take the edge off of their anxiety. The problem is that the alcohol or drugs don’t address the root problem but only masks it and then, because of the now altered brain chemistry, adds a new problem of chemical dependence.
If you watch the news at all, you are familiar with the opioid epidemic in the U.S. and the massive number of deaths from fentanyl. These kinds of synthetic drugs are especially dangerous because they include quasi-legal research chemicals like synthetic amphetamines called “bath salts” or the artificial marijuana called “spice” widely available in in stores or online.
Recovery Is Possible
The path to recovery isn’t easy, but know that it is possible. Many have traveled that path and are now living healthy and substance free. And so can you with the help of substance abuse counseling. One of our substance abuse counselors will work with you to establish your needs and goals and give you the empathy, support, and safe space to get to the root problem that drove you to the substance in the first place. This is critical because lasting rehabilitation depends on addressing the root issue of the abuse.
The good news is, most people who get help for alcohol and drug addiction recover. We assume that because substance abuse recovery is hard that people don’t recover from it. Yes, it’s hard to treat, but hard doesn’t mean hopeless. A study conducted by the CDC and the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that three out of four people – 75% – who experience addiction and get help recover. It might take years; there might be relapses, and recovery rates vary from person to person, but people do recover. We’re surrounded by people who have recovered from substance abuse; we just don’t know it.
How Substance Abuse Counseling Works
Substance abuse counseling is a researched and evidence-based treatment that helps address the root causes of addiction. The substance abuse counselor has a Master’s Degree in counseling and is trained and licensed as an LCDC (licensed chemical dependency counselor). The counselor will determine whether the client is able to work through the recovery process on an out-patient basis or whether the client needs to de-tox in a treatment program with follow-up counseling.
The counseling experience will be similar to that of counseling for other issues. The counselor will begin by building a strong therapeutic alliance of trust and safety where the client’s history with the substance abuse is explored, goals are identified, and a strategy to meet those goals is created. The actual counseling process will be tailored to the client’s individual needs, but there will be a definite map that the counselor will follow.
The counselor will use counseling approaches that include the following:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is the most common therapy model used in addiction counseling. It focuses on correcting false beliefs and messages and replacing them with true ones. The client learns to manage each thought and emotion, especially the substance abuse triggers, which changes the resultant behavior.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. DBT helps clients who have trouble regulating their emotions by helping them learn to manage their discomfort and stress as it occurs in a healthy way. This is helpful to substance abusers who usually have a very low tolerance for stress.
Motivational Interviewing. MI doesn’t address the root issues, but in the early stages of treatment it is helpful to help skeptical clients find the motivation and readiness for treatment, which is crucial to recovery.
Concerns About Substance Abuse Counseling
“My problem isn’t that bad; I don’t use every day; my friends are worse than me.”
Then it won’t be very hard for you to recover. But it’s also possible and common that you are under-estimating the strength of your dependence on your drug of choice. If you don’t have to use it every day, how many days can you go without it? What condition are you in when you are driven to use again? Because of the brain chemistry involved in substance abuse, it’s physically impossible to have a casual addiction. If you have a compulsion to repeatedly use your substance in greater amounts to manage your stress, and especially if you are willing to disregard negative consequences, you need help.
“I tried to quit before and I couldn’t handle the withdrawal.”
If you tried to quit on your own without supervision or help, it’s no wonder you couldn’t handle it. Trying to kick alcohol or drugs alone can lead to seizures and even death. But if withdrawal is an issue, your counselor will have you go to a drug treatment facility where you can withdraw under medical supervision, which is safe and manageable.
“Even if I do get clean, I’m afraid that I’ll just go back to it.”
That is your addiction talking. And that can happen if you don’t address the underlying causes of your addiction. People who get drug or alcohol free are not problem free. Everyone has problems. Using drugs or alcohol was your way of dealing with the stress of your problems. But in substance abuse counseling, we will deal with those stressors and you will learn healthy coping strategies for managing them without using substances. But even if you do relapse, know that many in recovery do have relapses, but if you do, you get back up and studies show that you will recover if you don’t quit.
Take The First Step
If you are at the end of your rope, tie a knot in the end and call us for substance abuse counseling. You are not alone. We’re throwing you a lifeline right now. The hardest part is taking that lifeline and asking for the help you need. In fact, the only thing between you and sobriety is your mobile phone. Please, pick it up and call 972-422-8383 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on this website to reach out to Christian Counseling Associates for the help you need.
Rather than giving relief from stress, substances actually steal, kill, and destroy.
75% of people who experience addiction and get help recover.
Because of brain chemistry, it is physically impossible to have a casual addiction.
Substance abuse cuts across all ages, genders, levels of education, and socioeconomic status.
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