Dr. Cristina Davis
You may have recently noticed your substance use has become increasingly difficult to manage. Maybe you have noticed that you are drinking to the point of black-out, struggling to complete tasks throughout the day without stopping to use, or you may just notice that when you are around the substance, it’s difficult to resist the urge to use.Perhaps when you attempt to resist the urge to use, you find that it is difficult to concentrate, or you may experience mood changes, feel keyed up, experience changes in your sleep, and/or a change in your appetite. Maybe you have considered talking to someone about your substance use, but shame keeps you from making meaningful attempts to get help.
Whatever the circumstance, there are treatment options that can help you get back on track with your life goals and limit the impact that substances have on your life. Below are a few treatment options, which will depend on the severity and frequency of use, and various other factors.
Levels of Treatment
An inpatient treatment option offers maximum supervision, structure, and the least likelihood of use. This is generally a suitable option if your substance use has become so problematic that it impacts many areas of your life. It is then necessary to physically separate from your daily routine so you can focus solely on your treatment while avoiding the typical external cues that may trigger your cravings or urges to use.
In addition, it will temporarily provide you with distance from people while you receive treatment. This treatment option is very structured and will require you to temporarily stay at the treatment facility. Also, some inpatient facilities provide a medical detox option. While the research on this option is mixed, some people may seek this option to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of detox.
Some facilities provide outpatient substance abuse treatment options meaning you can go home when you are not receiving treatment. This may be helpful for those with outside responsibilities that require your attention such as young children, work, or school.
For instance, some facilities may provide a partial-day program and intensive outpatient treatment options that allow you to receive treatment on-site for a set number of hours during the day, and when done, return home.
It allows for some of the same structure found in inpatient treatment facilities without the commitment of living onsite while receiving treatment. If you are curious about whether this would be a good option for you, give a local facility a call, and ask to speak with a social worker or therapist about the program.
Compile a list in advance so you can be prepared to ask specific questions and gather detailed pieces of information about treatment service hours, expectations for the program, whether family therapy is an option, if this treatment option is covered by your insurance, and whether financial aid options are available if you do not have insurance.
Meeting with an individual therapist in private practice is another option. This may be one of the quickest options for getting in to meet with someone. In addition, this option may allow you to see a therapist weekly with the least interruption to your life.
However, its relative success will depend on the level of severity, how frequently you use, and how ready you are for change. You will develop a treatment plan with your therapist so that progress can be measured over time, and your treatment goals can be individualized to meet your needs.
Meeting with an individual therapist in private practice may also be a great option if you are interested in seeking treatment for your substance use but are unsure about which level of treatment is best for you as your therapist will be able to provide their recommendation for the level of care that may be best suited to meet your treatment needs.
In addition, if you need a higher level of care, a therapist may know of higher-level care options for substance use that are local to the area, and if they do not, they may consult with other therapists who may be familiar with and able to offer recommendations for treatment facilities.
Approaches To Therapy
Regardless of the level of treatment that you decide on, you can ask your therapist about approaches to therapy. For instance, Motivational Interviewing (MI), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are all different approaches. Each of the approaches emphasizes a different aspect of your mental health and offers a different lens through which to view your substance use and related concerns.
At times, you may feel that you do not have the strength to keep going or the shame you feel may leave you frozen and vulnerable. Faith can be an important component of therapy as reflecting and meditating on God’s word and who he says you are may help to challenge some of the painful thoughts and feelings you carry. When you feel inadequate or discouraged, remember that you are valuable.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5
Ask your therapist which of the treatment approaches they would recommend for you, why they believe the approach is the most appropriate for you, and how the approach may help you accomplish your treatment goals. Remember, you are meant to be an active participant in your treatment, and it is ok to ask questions and seek clarification.
Community And Social Supports
Your therapist may recommend that you use community and social support outside of therapy such as attending a 12-step program as these can be useful to gain the support of others that are also pursuing a life free from substances. Examples of 12-step programs include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Opiates Anonymous (OA), and many more.
If you struggle with substance use, your family system has likely changed in response to the substance use, and so it is likely that your family may need support as well. There are 12-step programs available for family members that can be very helpful as well. For instance, Al-Anon, Ala-teen, Nar-Anon, and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACOA).
Attempting to recover from substance abuse can be very difficult to navigate on your own. Remember, you are not meant to suffer in silence. Identifying when your substance use may be getting out of control, the right time to ask for help, where to turn for help, and how to prioritize your life around getting clean and staying sober can feel overwhelming.
Various responsibilities may compete for your attention and prioritizing yourself to seek treatment and reflect on your substance use and mental health may feel like a daunting task. Accepting your vulnerabilities and asking for help can feel like a weakness and shame is a powerful emotion that may make you hesitate about asserting when you need to prioritize your wellbeing.
Remind yourself often that you have intrinsic value and are worth the time, money, and effort that may be needed to get your life back on track. In addition, it is okay to ask for help. Asking for help does not mean you are weak (quite the opposite, actually), and many people struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. You do not have to walk this path alone.
Whatever your treatment needs may be, do not hesitate to seek help. It is easy to become discouraged when seeking treatment options and frustration and shame can make navigating the process even more difficult. Do not let this hinder you from seeking support. Whether you are ambivalent about making changes to your substance use or if you are ready to make changes now, call Seattle Christian Counseling and schedule an appointment with me today.
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