Are You Or Someone You Know Struggling To Maintain Sobriety Post Treatment?
Have you recently gotten out of a rehab center and find that maintaining sobriety is harder than you originally thought? Alternatively, has a drug or alcohol problem spiraled out of control? Perhaps you find yourself in an environment that makes maintaining sobriety difficult or even impossible—like living with someone that encourages your problem—and you feel unable to set healthy boundaries or maintain a safe distance from drugs and/or alcohol.
Maybe everything has changed for you during drug or alcohol recovery, and in the midst of this tremendous adjustment, you find yourself overwhelmed, craving a release. Maybe you’ve experienced profound consequences as a result of your drug or alcohol use, such as losing your job, friends or family, and now you’re dealing with the grief, loss and repercussions. Still, it may be that you can’t imagine another way to numb this pain.
Addiction can wreak havoc on every part of your life. It’s not uncommon for folks with substance abuse issues to also have relationship problems, trouble maintaining employment and symptoms of anxiety and depression. With everything going on, you may desperately want to use, but feel ashamed by the knowledge that drinking or using drugs poses the threat of unraveling everything.
Many People Struggle With Substance Abuse
If what started as normal, social use has crossed the line into abuse or addiction, you are certainly not alone. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.5 million American adults have battled or are battling a substance use disorder.
Once you begin using alcohol or drugs regularly, it can be very difficult to stop on your own. This is because substance abuse affects your brain in very acute ways.
When you experience pleasure, the reward pathway in your mind is triggered. It can be triggered by something that is good—for example, food or water—or something that simply feels good—like a high. When you continue to repeat something that feels pleasurable, a neuropathway in your brain is formed. Think of it like traveling through the bushes. In order to create a path through the bushes you have to travel that path over and over. It doesn’t just happen because you went through a few times.
The same thing is happening in your brain. You may have a certain experience that triggers a painful emotion. Drugs and/or alcohol are used to numb that pain, which activates a temporary pleasure response. If you’ve been drinking or using a long time, that pleasure response is deeply ingrained. At this point, your cravings may feel out of control.
The good news is that with time and commitment, it’s possible to learn coping skills that allow new neuropathways to grow by repeating the newly learned coping skills over and over when needed, just like the “going through the bushes” analogy. Even more significantly, counseling can be very beneficial in addressing the underlying pain and trauma that often drives addiction.
Recovery Counseling Can Help You Heal, Maintain Sobriety And Move Forward
Substance abuse counseling is incredibly effective in addressing the underlying mental health issues that accompany addiction. Together, we can explore your history and uncover the factors that are limiting your life. Perhaps you’re already aware of some of these, such as a family history of alcoholism or drug abuse or your own experiences of anxiety, depression or trauma. As we discover the elements that sustain your drug or alcohol use, you’ll learn how addiction affects your brain and body, as well as ways to heal what has been impaired.
In a safe, compassionate environment, you can speak openly about your experiences, needs and hopes for the future and receive unconditional positive feedback that’s both supportive and practical. During our sessions together, you can expect to identify triggers that lead to the impulse to drink or use. From here, I will provide you with healthy coping strategies—such as mindfulness, learn to become aware of negative thought processes and how to reframe your thoughts, breathing and grounding exercises—that allow you to remedy troubling thoughts and emotions. This is what will ultimately help you limit or diminish cravings.
Because of the neurological component of addiction, counseling is generally not the end-all, be-all of recovery. If need be, I am available to work with a rehab center, your primary care physician, psychiatrist or any other professional to provide you with the best care possible.
Much of our work will focus on your hopes for the future—who do you want to be, what do you want to do, what makes you happy? Substance abuse can derail everything. So, my role as a counselor is to help you regain joy or find it for the first time. By setting goals and healthy, empowering boundaries, it’s possible to work toward the life you want.
If you’re being held back by a traumatic experience, we may try Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which unlike talk therapy, addresses your specific memories and triggers. When successful, EMDR allows you to process traumatic memories just like any other memory, keeping troubling thoughts free from that emotional charge when you think of them.
Regardless of your specific situation, with the right help, sobriety and happiness are possible. With your commitment and my expertise, it’s possible to transform your life.
You may still have questions or concerns about addiction counseling…
A 12-step program requires a spiritual connection, and I don’t believe in a higher power.
Although 12-step works well for some and participating in a supportive community can be incredibly beneficial, here, you do not have to adhere to any sort of belief system in order to succeed.
If you’re committed to the therapy process, the results can be transformative. Everything I do in substance abuse counseling sessions is tailored to your individual wants and needs. And, I can provide you with outside support groups, like SMART Recovery, that do not incorporate a belief system into their regimen or mission if that is what you’re looking for.
I’m concerned about taking mental health medication.
Because addiction and mental health are often intertwined, we may discuss medication options if it seems like your addiction stems from a chemical imbalance. With that being said, there is a great deal of education and options to consider regarding mental health medication.
The choice to take medication is 100 percent yours, and if you do decide to try antidepressants or anxiety medication, these will be closely monitored by your physician.
Regardless, it’s important to remember that the overall goal of therapy is to get you focused on what you need to feel balanced and whole.
I’m afraid that I’ll never be able to stop. Or, I’m afraid for my addicted loved one.
It’s really common for people with severe addictions to form an identity around their use. There’s often a sense of ritual that becomes familiar. Physiologically, drug use can set off the same dopamine receptors that are triggered when one experiences pleasure. So, in a sense, you are ending a long-term relationship with something that has temporarily provided you comfort.
If you’re fearful that a loved one is in danger because of drug use, I encourage you to set healthy boundaries with him or her, such as not providing financial relief, etc. and to have your loved one call me as soon as possible.
Discovering what causes addiction and ways to heal depression, anxiety, unresolved traumas or family issues can help him or her move on.
Recovery is not possible without starting anew, which is why sobriety is not easy. But even though it’s not easy, it is possible. It’s possible to gain control, reinvent and redefine one’s self.
Recovery Is Possible
If you have additional questions about substance abuse treatment, please call (954)-861-0164 or contact me for a free video or phone consultation. I provide in-office counseling in Cooper City, FL as well as online therapy to anyone residing in the state of Florida. I offer services in English and Spanish, and I am a licensed mental health counselor and a master certified addiction professional.