Alcohol & Drug Counseling

Counseling or therapy can very well be one of the most rewarding and helpful things you can do for yourself. Unfortunately, in many parts of society, there is still a stigma attached to seeking help for a problem that is behavioral, emotional or related to substance abuse or addictions. The stigma is particularly strong with substance abuse because so many people really do not understand what is involved and mistakenly believe that a person ought to be able to stop if he really wants to. They simply do not understand all of the intricacies of a substance abuse problem/addiction. Furthermore, the person having the problem often has the same viewpoint and ends up viewing himself as either weak, incompetent, helpless, hopeless, all of the above or something else inappropriate.

Alcohol and drug counseling is like any other medical intervention. Fundamentally you are dealing with a disease process. A lot of people do not believe that, but they are simply misinformed or misguided in their judgments. Substance abuse and addiction is as much a disease as diabetes or cardio-pulmonary disease. In many ways it functions like cancer, and many professionals see addiction as a cancer of the mind, body and spirit. The difference is that someone with diabetes or cardio-pulmonary disease is not judged harshly or assigned some major character defect. Unfortunately, many people see substance abuse and addiction as some kind of moral weakness, some type of personality disorder or something else totally inaccurate. They do not realize that it is a product of liver dysfunction and primary brain dysfunction. A person who has abused substances for a significant period of time experiences damage in almost every part of his body and certainly in every part of his life. Yet because of some antiquated social beliefs, norms and values, many people keep trying to deal with it on their own, and they reinforce their own sense of powerlessness each time they fail.

Often times, many years go by before a person seeks professional help. It simply does not have to be this way. Think about it. If you have an abscessed tooth, you see a dentist. If you have flu or flu-like symptoms, you see a doctor. Even if there is something wrong with your car or your plumbing, you will most likely seek professional help to solve the problem. When it comes to substance abuse or addiction, however, people resist getting assistance because they mistakenly believe they ought to be able to handle it on their own. Substance abuse/addiction can have such a thorough and devastating effect on all parts of a person’s life that dealing with it alone is next to impossible. Substance abuse/addiction affects people physiologically, biochemically, psychologically and emotionally. There will often be problems with family and friends as well as with work and finances. It really does affect every aspect of a person’s life. Anyone who has seen someone struggle with substance abuse/addiction for any length of time knows this to be true.

Chances are, if you are reading this article and wondering if you have a substance abuse/addiction problem, there is some probability that you do or that you might at least be headed in that direction. A good counselor/therapist can help you answer any questions that you may have. The earlier you make contact the better. As with any disease, the earlier you begin treatment, the more likely it is that the treatment will be successful. If the therapeutic process begins early enough, sometimes just identifying where you are in the process, getting some new information and making some simple adjustments can reverse the destructive pattern that a person may be in. A good counselor/therapist can help you determine not only where you are in the process, but what treatments are available and what you can do to resolve any problems before they get worse.

Working with a counselor/therapist does not have to come, as too many people believe, after one “hits rock bottom”. The best time to contact a therapist is after the first indicators suggest that there might be a problem. Indicators may come from family members, close friends, co-workers or other associates. Other indicators may come from your own sense that things just haven’t felt right for a while and your use of substances has increased significantly. If there are some indictors, then it is time to make contact with a good counselor/therapist. In a relatively short period of time, a good counselor/therapist should be able to help you understand your relationship with alcohol/substances, what role it plays in your life and what you can do to halt any destructive patterns. Too often, people wait years to initiate the therapeutic process only after experiencing either some long sense of failure, negative self esteem, worthlessness, hopelessness, desperation or all of the above. Too often they must experience a traumatic event or a series of traumatic events before they seek professional help. This is so unnecessary and sad not only for the person who is suffering, but also for all the people surrounding the person with a substance abuse/addiction problem.

If you are thinking that you or someone you know might have a problem with substance abuse or addiction, go ahead and get the information you need as quickly as possible from a qualified counselor/therapist. At the very least you won’t have to guess. You will be able to identify if in fact there is a problem and what you can do to resolve it. Here at Side By Side Counseling, we use cognitive, emotional and behavioral therapies which will give you overall improved coping skills, stress management skills, anger management skills, communication skills and other lifestyle skills to ensure that you make any necessary adjustments so that you can have the quality of life to which you are entitled . Here at Side By Side Counseling we deal with substance abuse and addiction holistically because it affects every aspect of your life including your family, friends, coworkers and associates.

We offer individual, family, couples and group therapy, and we even offer our clients a 30 minute consultation that is free of charge so that we can answer any basic questions they may have. The suggestion I always make to people who contact me is to get any questions answered for yourself before they get answered for you by someone like an employer or an estranged spouse or even by some major trauma or catastrophe. Sadly, all too often that is the case.

Therapy can help you make more informed decisions about what is best for you and how to achieve the quality of life that you have always wanted. Please feel free to contact us here at Side By Side Counseling should you have any concerns or questions.

Michael G. Morris CDWIE, CRT, LCAS