Addiction/Substance Abuse

Addiction is complex and 100% treatable. Addiction does not discriminate amongst races, socioeconomic lines, or levels of education. It is a chronic, progressive, and fatal illness if left untreated. It impacts not only the individual but the family and the community that surround the individual.

Like most health challenges a person faces in their lifetime, the origins of addiction stem from some personal combination of nature and nurture. Due to the nature of physical dependence, every human lies somewhere on the spectrum of addiction severity. This spectrum on the far end is ‘no dependence today’ and can progress through mild severity all the way to extreme, chronic use (addiction) with many life consequences.

Add in environmental stressors, traumatic experiences, attachment disruption in childhood, and it’s no wonder most humans have some level of dependence on a substance or behavior whether it’s alcohol, narcotics, iPhones, gambling, spending, Netflix, or sugar. Gabor Mate said it best, “When the present moment is intolerable, altering the present moment becomes a remedy.” We all have this tendency, but recognizing it is the first step toward making a positive change.

Reaching out for help to better understand addiction and how it might be playing out in your story is a huge first step for anyone to take. Please take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate this.

Sometimes our personal journey is daunting, especially if it isn’t as clear as point A to point B. Having another set of eyes on the road can lend support for moving in the direction you wish to go. When addiction is added to the mix, there are so many obstacles and blind spots, it’s what AA refers to as the “cunning and baffling nature of addiction”

If recovery from addiction was easy, we would not be seeing the epidemic we see today. Individual therapy helps to map out the way forward, healing wounds that may disrupt this path, and offers tools to help steady the continued journey. Just know you are not alone and you certainly don’t have to figure this out alone. Having a co-pilot that is safe, direct, compassionate, and supportive on your team helps give you back the control of your life, so you can steer in the direction of your true solution.

Substance Abuse

Mental health and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable and many people do recover. Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Reaching a level that can be formally diagnosed often depends on a reduction in a person’s ability to function as a result of the disorder. For example:

  • Serious mental illness is defined by someone over 18 having (within the past year) a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • For people under the age of 18, the term “Serious Emotional Disturbance” refers to a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder in the past year, which resulted in functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits the child’s role or functioning in family, school, or community activities.
  • Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.

The coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder is referred to as co-occurring disorders. The National Institute for Mental Health’s Mental Health Information page has information about specific conditions and disorders as well as their symptoms.

  • Behavioral health treatments are ways of helping people with mental illnesses or substance use disorders. For example, counseling and more specialized psychotherapies seek to change behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and how people see and understand situations. Medications for mental and substance use disorders provide significant relief for many people and help manage symptoms to the point where people can use other strategies to pursue recovery.

For many people, the most effective behavioral health approach involves a combination of counseling and medication. Early treatment is best. A trained professional should do a full evaluation to make the diagnosis. No single treatment works best. Treatments must address each person’s needs and symptoms.




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