Substance Abuse – Addiction Counseling
You know it and we know it. Addiction is a serious problem. Whether it is your own addiction or someone you care about is struggling with it, it can tear lives apart.
Addiction Counseling can help.
We work with people dealing with physically addicting substances or psychologically addicting activities. We want to help.
Here are some examples:
- Illegal Drugs
- Prescription Drugs
- Controlled Substances
- Food Addictions
- Sexual Addicts / Sex Addiction
- Video Games Addictions
- The Internet
There are different definitions of addiction, and fairly often we are asked, “how do I know if I am addicted to (alcohol, sex, gambling, etc.) or not?”
In our addiction counseling, the guideline we use is this: If using a substance or repeatedly performing a particular activity is creating problems in any area of your life, and you do not feel able to stop, you are likely to be addicted.
“Any area of your life” can be any of these:
- Physical health
- Family functioning and relationships
- Intimate partner relationship
- Personal Growth
- Legal Concerns
- Physical Environment
That covers a lot, doesn’t it??
Even if there isn’t an effect right now, if you know there is a possibility of a future negative impact and you continue, this is unhealthy and possibly addictive behavior. For instance, if you are drinking more than doctors recommend, your future physical health is in danger even if you feel great right now.
This is a fairly broad definition but whether you call it addiction, compulsion, or a habit – if it is creating problems for you in your life then it is time to consider a healthier path. That is a simple conclusion to make, but we know that acting on it can be really difficult.
Here are a few ideas to illustrate how you might determine if a person’s drinking, using, etc. needs to be worked on:
1) Have you ever heard the term “high functioning alcoholic?” This is a person who drinks heavily or often but being able to function well in the more obvious areas of life has not really been impacted. They can maintain their job, their relationships are intact, they’ve never had a DUI, they don’t have money problems. But if he or she drinks so much that it puts that person’s future health at risk, recreational or spiritual activities are avoided, or perhaps working on personal goals that are important to him or her have been put off because so much time is spent on drinking – these are strong indicators that a problem needs to be addressed.
2) Viewing pornography may be considered by many individuals and couples to be a completely acceptable activity. For instance, a couple in which both partners enjoy and accept this activity as a part of their sexual relationship may not have a problem to be addressed. However, if one person in this couple is uncomfortable with the other’s use of pornography or if he or she feels degraded by it – but that partner continues to view pornography anyway – this couple has an important issue to be dealt with. It could be considered an unhealthy behavior because it erodes the intimacy between them, it may even be a method of avoiding intimacy, and may also be a method of avoiding other painful situations, memories, or areas of life.
3) Another example may be a couple who is very active in their church, and according to their beliefs, infidelity is morally wrong. If one partner has repeated affairs this creates problems not only in the partner relationship but also with his or her spirituality. One affair is certainly a problem as well, but when there are repeated affairs and the person doesn’t feel able to stop, for some people it is easier to get on a healthier path if they think of this in terms of addictive behavior, and addiction counseling can help.
We have Licensed Addiction Counselors at LifePaths. We can help.
Addictions Therapy, Counseling, and Treatment Methodologies
We tend to look at mental health care holistically, and assist our clients in managing overall health. If the addiction is with a physical substance, it is important that the client also involve a medical doctor in his or her care. This is particularly important if withdrawal from the substance could create a health risk.
A second area we work on is in developing healthy coping skills. Addictions can be thought of as ways of coping with psychologically painful aspects of life or past traumas. Developing alternative, healthy coping skills will be important to being able to stop the addictive behavior and prevent returning to it.
Our self care handout can help you identify healthy coping skills for yourself or someone you care about. A third part of our work is to explore that painful current situation or past trauma, and work towards resolution or at least management of that pain.
Finally, as necessary, we may incorporate different methodologies, such as “moderation management” or 12 steps if these are helpful to a client. In particular, being involved in a 12 step program at the same time we are working together in counseling can be extremely helpful. There are many types of 12 step groups! (And alternatives if you don’t like 12 steps – keep reading below!) There are many websites where you can seek out and select one that is right for you. Even if you go to a meeting and it doesn’t seem like it will help, try two things: first, go to another meeting with the same group to be sure that it wasn’t just a day or evening that the group was “off” a little bit; and then if it still doesn’t seem like a good fit then keep trying other groups in the same way until you find one that feels good, the people are supportive, and the environment feels helpful to you. Attending a 12 step group while also in mental health counseling is an effective strategy for beating addiction.
If you or someone you care about is dealing with an addiction, please call us and discuss it. Even if one of us is not the right counselor for you (or that person), we are happy to talk about your options and resources that may help you.
Alternatives To 12-Step Programs
For some people, the 12 step approach is not a good fit and doesn’t seem to work to help them overcome addictions. If you are looking for something other than AA-based programs, something non-religious, or for any reason, here is a list of possible programs you could try:
And if you choose to get counseling as well, we provide effective addiction counseling with a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC). Call 303-801-7878 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.