Addiction is one of the most difficult things a person can deal with. It can cause feelings of shame, and the person struggling often hides their addiction from friends and family, resulting in feelings of isolation. The addiction may result in the loss of a job or even loss of access to one’s children if the situation spirals. And the difficulty of dealing with those losses can make it even harder to fight your substance abuse problem. A therapist can help.
Since most substance abuse is a coping mechanism for the sometimes harsh realities of life or to avoid underlying mental or emotional issues, it is crucial to get to the root of why the addiction occurred. Therapy can help resolve those factors in order to work toward staying away from problematic substances. Therapy can also be used to treat the specific mental health conditions that often contribute to drug or alcohol use.
Counseling is a useful part of treatment for both alcohol and drug addiction. While the specific treatment will be tailored to your individual situation, much of the core methodology is shared between the two types of counseling. Reach out to Thriveworks Portage for alcohol and substance abuse counseling.
Contributing Factors to Substance Abuse
Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by a compulsion to use harmful substances or substances that are harmful when overdone. An addicted person usually decides on their own to imbibe addictive substances, most often using it as a coping mechanism.
In other words, having a few beers after a stressful day is relatively normal, but if alcohol is often used to cope with a tough day, it can lead to increased alcohol use that becomes addictive. This is partly due to changes in the brain’s chemistry that challenge the person’s self-control over urges to drink—and partly due to the person repressing whatever issues they are facing instead of coping with them in a healthy way.
An addicted person’s compulsion tends to compound itself and become more and more destructive as the addiction increases in severity. These brain changes can be difficult to rewire, which is why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease. People in recovery from drug use issues are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of sobriety.
Substance abuse disorders change everything about a person’s life, including their desires, goals, ambitions, and priorities. Addiction changes behaviors that are normal for the individual and attempts to rewrite them, making it harder to work or get an education, and it can inhibit the ability to maintain healthy, positive relationships with family and friends.
Importance of Group Therapy to Addiction Recovery
For most general counseling sessions, psychologists prefer to meet one-on-one with an individual for talk therapy in order to give them the personalized treatment necessary for their situation. However, for substance abuse and addiction, group therapy is considered an excellent adjunct therapy method. In group therapy, a person is surrounded by peers that are going through similar issues. Those members are then able to both challenge and encourage each other.
Maintaining a regular private therapy appointment is important even when participating in group therapy, particularly when there are other disorders in play. Addiction is often linked to depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, or various other mental health issues. Having two illnesses at the same time is known as “comorbidity.” Comorbidity is complex and can make it difficult to treat either disorder. Talk therapy is the best way to understand how addiction relates to other diagnoses present within an individual.
Even after detox, when physical dependence has been mostly negated and a path to recovery formed, addicts are at high risk for relapse. Relapse is most common in stressful situations, but it also comes from being around others who are using the substances used by the individual prior to their independence from addiction.
Therapy can give individuals the ability to handle stressful situations and environmental issues that may prompt a new cycle of impulsive tendencies. The goal is to redirect how the patient manages their life in order to live in a healthy way and avoid relapse. Cognitive-behavioral strategies are based on the idea that learning processes play a critical role in reshaping how a person approaches their life—and helps them do so in a way that does not require drugs in order to cope with their environments. Individuals in therapy can learn to recognize problem behaviors and rectify them by using new coping techniques. Their new skills can be used to stop drug abuse and to address the deeper issues causing the suffering that led to the addictive behavior to begin with.
Substance abuse is a difficult journey. But with the proper strategies and coping techniques learned with the help of a therapist, you can begin to build the life you want—without the substances—and work toward a future of your choice.
Contact Thriveworks Portage Counseling. We’re located near Kalamazoo and Western Michigan University and are able to see patients of all ages. Our therapists know the area, know the people, and are ready to compassionately help them become the best version of themselves.