Is A Substance Abuse Counselor Right For Me?
Updated January 22, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT
If you find yourself struggling with controlling your use of medications or drugs, then you may have a substance abuse problem. Substance abuse is an extremely serious disorder that can affect your life in some extremely harmful ways. That's why it's important for you to get the help you need as fast as possible. Without help, substance abuse can completely derail your life, with your family, your friends, your work and everything you find important. So should you be getting help? The short answer is that you definitely should.
- What Is Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse is a dependence on any addictive substance. It could be illegal drugs, prescription drugs or even alcohol, but no matter what, it causes harm to you and your life. Substance abuse means that you are using something in a way that it shouldn't be used, which means it could even be a prescription medication that is prescribed to you, but you're using it too much or in the wrong ways. Overindulgence is another aspect of substance abuse, after all.
- Am I A Substance Abuser?
While the definition we gave above seems to give a clear-cut definition of what a substance abuser is, it can be extremely difficult to describe yourself as one. No one wants to think of themselves as being an addict, mainly because of the bleak picture that the mainstream media depicts people who are addicted to anything. It seems like they have nothing ahead of them in life and they're doomed, but that's not the case at all. If you are a substance abuser, you can get a good life again, and you can be happy without the addictive substance.
If substance abuse has cost you friends or loved ones, then you likely have a problem. If you find yourself struggling to get through the day without alcohol, drugs or medication, then you likely have a substance abuse problem (the caveat is if you have a diagnosed condition that requires the use of medication to treat it). Of course, it is possible to misuse prescription medication as well, so if you are using the prescription medication in any way other than prescribed by a doctor, this is also a sign of substance abuse. These are all signs that you should get help.
- How long do you have to go to school to be a drug counselor?
To be a drug counselor, you can look at different training programs. Many programs are typically two-year training programs. Licensing requirements vary by state, so check with your state before beginning a training program to be a substance abuse counselor. Most of the time, substance abuse counselors will get a bachelor’s degree from a degree program in a field related to behavioral health and then go obtain their master’s degree in substance abuse counseling. To become a substance abuse counselor, check out the degree programs in your state.
- Types Of Substance Abuse Counseling
The first type of counseling that you can start with is individual counseling. With this type of counseling, you and your therapist are the only people in the room. For those who aren't quite sure about sharing their struggles or who are just getting started with therapy or even those who have other mental health conditions alongside addiction, it can be a good idea to at least start with individual therapy. This type allows you to be the focus of the attention and to interact with the therapist the way you see fit.
Group therapy is the other option when it comes to getting the treatment that you need. With this type of therapy, you will be in a setting with some other people who are also struggling with substance abuse. They may all be addicted to the same type of substance (alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, etc.) or they may all be substance abusers in different ways. This type of therapy allows you to get and give support because each person in the group understands what the other people are going through and how the recovery process feels.
The Process of Quitting
Quitting any kind of addictive substance can be extremely difficult. But it can also be a dangerous process if you're not careful. The most important thing that you should do is speak with your doctor about your addiction and your plan to quit before you do. Your doctor is there to help you, and they are going to assist you with quitting, even if you are doing something illegal. They can prescribe you medications that help with the detoxification process and can even prescribe things that will make the drug or alcohol that you are taking less desirable to you in the first place.
Detoxification can be extremely difficult, and it can be dangerous if you are not careful about it. Talking with a medical professional is the best and first step you should make because of the danger associated with it. Stopping anything that you are addicted to without supervision or a gradual weaning process (which is impossible to do properly in a home setting) is very dangerous because it causes a shock to your system. With medical intervention, you can get through the detox much easier and more safely.
Therapy is an important step to make along the way as well. You want to make sure that you have someone to talk to about what you're experiencing and how it's affecting you. Whether you decide to go with individual therapy or group therapy, you're going to get a lot of benefits from having someone to talk to. Talking with your family and friends can help as well, but often they don't understand what you're going through and can't help you when you're struggling. Though they mean well and want to be there for you, it's difficult to explain what's happening to someone who has never been there.
Some medications can help you with the process of quitting as well. These medications, as we mentioned, make the detox process much easier. They also help you better resist the temptation to relapse and use again. Unfortunately, these prescription medications can't be used forever, and you will eventually need to make it without them. Also, it's important to be careful if you are already addicted to medication because the potential for addiction to the new medication is also there. Your doctor may not want to test your strength by prescribing anything new.
When everything is done, you'll have stopped drinking and using drugs entirely. The important thing is to make sure you stay on that path. If you've gone through the process of detoxification and quitting it's important that you do not return to drinking or any kind of drugs. Recreational use of any of them should be entirely off limits. This can be difficult for someone who started out using alcohol as a social thing as it means finding new ways to interact with friends and peers. Making sure you stay away from the things you were once addicted to is crucial for your overall health.
Why You Should Quit
Quitting seems like quite a struggle, and it can be extremely difficult to push yourself through, so why would you even want to quit? Well, the truth is that there are plenty of reasons that you should want to quit. First, there are many ways that substance abuse has likely affected your relationships with friends and family and it has probably changed the way that you can work as well. Substance abuse generally affects just about every area of your life and can cause damage to just about any part of your body as well.
Misusing drugs can increase your risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, psychosis, and death. All of these things occur after just a single use of drugs. As you continue to use, however, you increase your risk for things like heart disease, lung disease, cancer, mental illness, hepatitis and a whole lot more. Using needles increases your risk for things like HIV and AIDS. No matter what type of drugs you use you can suffer extreme consequences and could even die as a result. That's a good reason for you to avoid using at all.
Getting Online Treatment
If you're looking for a way to get the substance abuse counseling that you need to help yourself, the best place for you to look is online. Online therapy gives you a better chance for success in some respects because it keeps you a whole lot more comfortable than you would be in a typical therapist's office. No one likes to sit on that uncomfortable couch and talk about their feelings. With online therapy you can simply log on from anywhere you happen to be and conduct the session in a place where you feel more comfortable.
If you're looking for the best type of online therapy, you should check out BetterHelp, which offers you therapy from all over the country. You'll be able to reach out to a therapist located just about anywhere, and you'll be able to do it comfortably and easily. Even more, you'll be able to access information about different types of therapy and different types of mental health conditions. That way you'll be able to get the treatment that you need and start working towards a better life for yourself. There's no reason you need to struggle with substance abuse when there is a solution out there for you.
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