Substance use issues have to start somewhere and they often begin with alcohol, as it is a socially acceptable way to deal with stress. However, many people don’t realize that alcohol is a depressant. It slows down your brain and changes your thinking and behavior.
According to Eric Patterson, “The connection between alcohol and stress is bidirectional. This means that stress increases alcohol use, and alcohol use increases stress”.
Substance use starts with use, it sometimes moves to misuse, then abuse or dependency. When substance use runs in the family, we are automatically at higher risk at developing the disorder. Substance use disorder looks different for different people. There is a myth associated with SUD that you have to drink or use daily for it to be a problem. This is not true. One of the factors associated with addiction is unmanageability.
When you drink or use, does your life become unmanageable?
Do you fight with your spouse?
Overdo your drinking?
Do or say things that you aren’t proud of?
Hurt your frienships?
Lie about your use?
Continue to use or drink despite feeling that it’s not healthy for you?
Fight or become combative?
Neglect your responsibilities?
Drink and drive?
Feel sick emotionally or physically after drinking?
Have black outs when you drink?
Are your family or friends concerned about your drinking or use?
A chronic Condition
Addiction is a chronic condition. Drug and alcohol abuse impacts a person’s thinking, behavior and relationships.
Like other chronic conditions, addiction is treatable and manageable.
When someone puts their recovery first, it means that they make a commitment to live life in a new way. This is an important part of treatment.
Substance abuse treatment helps people to change their way of thinking, reconnect to the self, reconnect to others and build new coping strategies.
Today there are lots of options for addiction treatment. Options include individual therapy, group therapy, inpatient or outpatient depending on the level of care that each person needs.
12 Step programs
12 step programs are one option for treatment. 12 steppers report a sense of belonging, connection, guidance, and friendship / fellowship. 12 step programs are free and easily accessible with in person and virtual meetings. According to Dennis Donovan of the alcohol and drug abuse institute, 12 step programs “are associated with positive long-term outcomes”. When someone is involved and committed to a 12-step program, they are engaged in a community that supports sobriety instead of supporting drinking.
Individual therapy can serve many roles in a person’s treatment. Sometimes people start individual therapy during a time when they aren’t sure whether their substance use is a problem. During this stage, therapy can be a safe space to explore one’s relationship with substances. At later stages in the recovery process, individual therapy can be a space to work on creating new coping strategies, healing from trauma related to substance use and processing relationships in sobriety.
Family therapy can play an important role in getting and staying sober. The entire family system is impacted by addiction. Family therapy provides a space to break down defense mechanisms, to be honest about family secrets and to discuss new boundaries and expectations. Family therapy is also a place where the entire family can be educated on addiction.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT is a type of therapy that is widely used in addiction treatment. There are strict CBT therapists and there are also therapists who incorporate CBT techniques into their work with clients. CBT can be utilized in individual or group settings.
CBT techniques focus on helping individuals to change their thinking, reframe their thoughts, and find connections between their actions and their thoughts. It is common to see negative thinking patterns in those who are struggling with addiction. It is important to treat any co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression. According to the National Institute on drug abuse, “Treating mental health issues like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD and others with medications or other therapies is crucial to address the addiction and overdose crisis”.
Inpatient programs are intense, residential programs. An inpatient program is appropriate when someone needs a controlled environment in order to get sober, which is common. Often, medical detox is needed. When this is the case, the patient will be under the care of a doctor and medical specialists as they detox from substances. They are provided with constant care. During inpatient programs, patients can immerse themselves into treatment and getting sober. They can put all of their focus on themselves. When you go to inpatient treatment you have a team: a therapist, a group counselor and a psychiatrist. An inpatient program can range from 30 days to 6 months.
Outpatient programs are part-time programs that treat addiction. They vary in intensity and duration. They are typically anywhere from 3 to 5 days a week. A patient can usually attend an outpatient program during the day or in the evening. An outpatient program is a higher level of care then individual therapy, but people are still able to attend school or work while attending a partial program.
Sober living is an important part of treatment. It is important for an individual to have a sober and stable environment to live in during early sobriety. A sober living environment is often recommended post treatment, as it can provide safety, accountability, and support.
It is well known that substance use is difficult for everyone involved. Whether you are struggling with substance use or like many of us, you may have a family member who is, know that you are not alone and there are treatment options.
Modern Therapy and Wellness, LLC has clinicians who are experienced in working with those who struggle with substance use disorder. We can provide individual and family therapy, as well as referrals for higher levels of care.