Are you struggling with alcohol or another substance? You are not alone! Many people privately struggle with a substance like alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medications.
If any of the following statements apply to you, we can talk about ways to regain control over your life so you feel better.
“I’m worried about my use; sometimes I can control it but often times I drink more than I wanted to.”
“I can’t imagine spending time with my family without having a drink.”
“Smoking (drinking) helps me relax after work. I cannot unwind without it.”
“Having a drink helps me meet women/men.”
“I cannot fall asleep without marijuana.”
“My brain will not shut off until I have a few drinks.”
“People have expressed concern to me about my use but I think I can control it if I just keep trying.”
“The thought of not using makes me anxious.”
“I know it’s not really bad because I don’t use it every day.”
“If I keep trying, I can learn to just have 1-2 drinks and stop there. I just want to be a ‘normal’ drinker.”
“Drinking decreases my social anxiety and makes me more comfortable when I go out.”
“I have had legal problems because of my use.”
“Having a drink helps me be creative/get things done.”
“I have done rehab programs but need some support to help keep me on track.”
Many people privately struggle to control their alcohol, pot, and other substance use. Most often our own internalized shame keeps us from asking for help. We start to feel like we’re “bad” because we have been unsuccessful at quitting or moderating our use. What people do not realize is that we all have different brain chemistry and few are using because in the moment it feels like it is helping us.
Understanding Addiction Treatment Millions of Americans struggle with unhealthy substance use. In fact, about 20 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder each year. Further, I believe that adding the number of people who do not report their abuse would greatly increase this number.
The problem starts because the substance feels like a useful solution when a person starts using it (e.g., someone no longer feels anxious when trying to date; another person unwinds more easily after a long day; others may find relief from the ongoing negative self talk that keeps them feeling insecure). Because our brains are all wired differently, for some people substances can become problematic and their sole coping mechanism.
If you have a biological parent who has struggled with alcohol, it greatly increases your risk of having a problem with alcohol. Alcohol is a very difficult drug to avoid in Boulder. It’s everywhere – drinks are promoted not only at restaurants and bars but at the movies, museums, plays, fundraisers, etc. It takes support and strength to figure out a path that works for you to be healthy. Why should I try therapy? Great question. Something brought you to this site… whether it was an incident at work, a slip after being in recovery for some time, a family member’s concern with your use, or just your own desire to feel better and more in control of your life. Having done this work for almost 15 years, the one piece that I see which helps people succeed more than anything else is support. The more support you have, the more likely you will be able to make the changes you want to make. Therapy with me, offers unconditional positive regard for your process and allows you to heal shame and many of the negative thought loops that have held you back for too long. What can I expect from a session? There’s no “one size fits all” approach with good therapy. I want to hear what motivation you have for change and what your goals are for yourself. Equally we will listen to the parts that don't want to stop using to understand the resistance so all of you can get on board with making positive changes. In order to eliminate any “false moods,” I often suggest an amino acid checklist to see if supplements could further help you. This is completely optional, but I find most people want to do it and notice positive effects right away. It also allows us to look at what needs to be addressed.
During sessions, we pay attention to the breath, to the inner critic, to pain or tension in the body, to belief systems that we may be holding unconsciously that are holding us back. We look at what is working and what’s not working to come up with a variety of tools and strategies to feel better.
You may still have questions about addiction treatment....
What sets you apart from other therapists? What I hear most for my clients is appreciation that I see and understand them. They're able to release shame and judgement that is often layered on with addictions. A holistic approach is the most effective way to meeting your goals. Drinking isn't the problem: the problem is that a part of you feels that if you don't drink, (fill in the blank: I won't be able to enjoy the evening with my family, I won't be able to stop thinking about work, I will feel sad/lonely/anxious and it will not go away) something unpleasant will occur. A holistic framework realizes:
that brain chemistry contributes to triggers and can offer solutions for that
sees the client as a whole and complete person whose system is working hard (and unsuccessfully) to create peace
recognizes the importance of world view and spirituality
helps the client understand the beliefs underneath the triggers to give them greater control over their actions.
By treating the whole client and addressing the myriad of underlying issues that come with addiction, clients can have long-term recovery and feel a sense of peace and fulfillment in their lives.
I have been working with addiction issues since I began counseling. It is an issue I feel passionate about. I come from a large family where there is substance abuse and addiction. I have had my own struggles to figure out what is healthy for me. I know how prevalent alcohol and other recreational drugs are in our culture and how difficult they can be to avoid. I feel empathy and appreciation for the people I have come across on this path.
I've always struggled with this; I'm not convinced I can change. Thanks to neuroplasticity, we can change our brain chemistry. Even if we have struggled for decades, there are things we can do to think, feel, and act differently now. By examining what’s not working, we can stimulate ideas for something that could work. Often, the puzzle can be solved by managing brain chemistry through a mix of support, diet, exercise, amino acids. When we are depleted in serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and/or endorphins, we feel less energized, more stressed, depressed, and/or anxious. By addressing this first, you will begin to feel lighter and better within the first week as well as experience less cravings. This adds motivation to help continue making the kind of changes that last.
What if I don't want to be sober forever? It’s normal to struggle with substance use and try to figure out what’s healthy for you. I work with people who need to be completely sober and those who try moderation. My approach is to meet each client where they are to find them support in making bold change. What holds most of us back is a feeling of shame because we have tried and failed to change before. 85% of us will relapse at least once; it’s a normal part of change. But what keeps many people from moving forward is a lack of support. I can provide that, while also helping you figure out what other support you need to live your best life.
O.k. Let's start this! I totally get how trying to find help through the internet can be daunting. I have been there. I’d love to help you stop your search and start your next chapter. If what you’ve read has resonated with you, please reach out and give me a call or send me an email. I offer free phone consults and I believe you’ll find after a session with me, that you will begin to feel more confident and ready to make changes that will lead you to the life you really desire.
"When I got sober, I learned that hard feelings are doorbells that interrupt me, send me into a panic, and then leave me with an exciting package. Sobriety is a decision to stop numbing and blaming away hard feelings and to start answering the door. So when I quit drinking, I began allowing my feelings to disturb me. This was scary, because I had always assumed that my feelings were so big and powerful that they would stay forever and eventually kill me. But my hard feelings did not stay forever, and they did not kill me. Instead, they came and went, and afterwards I was left with something I didn't have before. That something was self-knowledge. Hard feelings rang my bell and then left me with a package filled with brand-spanking-new information about myself. This new information was exactly what I needed to know about myself to take the next step in my life with confidence and creativity." - Glennon Doyle